Famous Engineers: The 10 Who Changed The World - EngineeringClicks (2023)

Naming just 10 of the countless engineers that have had enormous impacts on the world as we know it can be quite difficult. Over the last 100-200 years especially, there have been major advances in technology in all engineering disciplines.

Think about it, from the car you drive to work, to the light bulbs and electricity in your house, even to the computer that this is being typed onto, these have all been invented by the geniuses that have come before us. I know for sure that our lives would be quite different if just one of these engineers had not existed, or pursued their inventions, imagine your life without electricity!

As mentioned previously there will be a plethora of accomplished and famous engineers that will be left out of the “Top 10”, unfortunately one would have to write a book to include them all! Let’s get into the list, in (an attempt at) chronological order:

1. Archimedes

Famous Engineers: The 10 Who Changed The World - EngineeringClicks (1)Such a list would not be complete without the mention of Archimedes, the original engineer as some refer to him and definitely the most famous engineer of his era. Although the finer details of his life are generally unknown, as he was born in 288BC, he is recognised for influencing many different fields, such as astronomy, engineering, mathematics and physics.

Some of Archimedes’ greatest contributions include the invention of the “center of gravity” concept, the invention of the science of mechanics and the development of levers and pulleys, which allowed man to move heavy objects with a relatively small force.

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2. James Watt

Famous Engineers: The 10 Who Changed The World - EngineeringClicks (2)The “Father of Mechanical Engineering”, James Watt was a Scottish mechanical engineer born in 1736. He is famous for his major improvements in steam engine technology. He did not invent the steam engine, but improved on the existing Newcomen’s steam engine to create his own Watt steam engine.

This creation is also credited with starting the Industrial Revolution, as it was an engine that required 80% less fuel than its predecessors. James Watt also introduced the word “horsepower”, discovered the concept of latent heat and invented the world’s first copying machine.

3. George Stephenson

Famous Engineers: The 10 Who Changed The World - EngineeringClicks (3)George Stephenson, a British civil and mechanical engineer born in 1781, was renowned as the “Father of Railways”. He was behind the first commercially built railways across England and Europe, his most famous railway route was the construction of the railway between Liverpool and Manchester.

His innovation allowed railways to spread out over England, Europe and even North America, and his standard “Stephenson railway gauge” is still used around the world to this day.

4. Charles Babbage

Famous Engineers: The 10 Who Changed The World - EngineeringClicks (4)Charles Babbage was an English mechanical engineer, inventor and mathematician born in 1791. He is credited with the concept of the first mechanical computer that was the first stepping stone on the way to more complex designs. The “Analytical Engine” as it was called, encompassed all of the modern aspects of newer computer systems.

Babbage also contributed to other fields as well, assisting in establishing the English postal system, compiling the first reliable actuarial tables and inventing a certain type of speedometer.

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5. Nicolaus Otto

Famous Engineers: The 10 Who Changed The World - EngineeringClicks (5)Creator of the internal combustion engine, Nicolaus Otto provided the first viable successor to the steam engine with his compressed charge, internal combustion engine that ran on petroleum gas.

Born in 1832, he was a German engineer that developed the four-stroke internal combustion engine, which means it has four strokes of its piston for each ignition. This was an immediate success due to its efficiency and reliability, and more than 30,000 were made in the next 10 years. The four stroke cycle is commonly known as the Otto cycle, an ode to its creator.

6. Alexander Graham Bell

Famous Engineers: The 10 Who Changed The World - EngineeringClicks (6)Have you ever used a telephone? Well, you have Alexander Graham Bell to thank for that. Born in 1847, he was a Scottish-born engineer, scientist and inventor that developed the first telephone by sending voice signals down a telegraph wire. He had a personal interest in communications as his mother was deaf.

He also invented some other notable devices including: the metal detector, graphophone (for recording and playing back sound) and the audiometer (for detecting hearing problems). Improving education for the deaf was also a personal project of his.

7. Thomas Edison

Famous Engineers: The 10 Who Changed The World - EngineeringClicks (7)1847 was a great year for inventors, as Thomas Edison was also born during this year. He is described as America’s greatest inventor, holding a world record of 1093 patents. His work in the various fields of mass communication, electrical power generation and motion pictures is renowned for having a huge influence on modern life.

His most famous invention is the creation of the first commercially viable incandescent light bulb, which provided affordable lighting for the masses. Other notable inventions from Thomas Edison was the development of the motion picture camera and the alkaline storage battery.

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8. Nikola Tesla

Famous Engineers: The 10 Who Changed The World - EngineeringClicks (8)Nikola Tesla, a name very familiar these days, was a Serbian-American mechanical and electrical engineer born in 1856. He is best known for his design of the modern AC (Alternating Current) electrical system. He made numerous contributions to the field of production, transmission and application of electrical power.

His discovery of the rotating magnetic field, which is the basis of nearly all alternating current machinery was revolutionary, along with the development of a three-phase system of electrical power delivery.

He also invented the Tesla coil, which produced high voltage, low-current, high frequency AC electricity, which is the basis of wireless electricity.

9. Fazlur Rahman Khan

While this name might not be immediately familiar to everyone, his legacy definitely will be. Fazlur Rahman Khan was a Bangladeshi-American structural engineer and architect born in 1929, who is known as the father of the modern skyscraper or more specifically, the father of tubular designs.

His many projects still stand as some of the tallest buildings in the world, including the John Hancock Center, Chicago and Willis Tower, also in Chicago. The Willis Tower was the first skyscraper in the world to feature Khan’s bundled tube structural system, which minimized the amount of steel needed to build skyscrapers and allowed for more freedom for the interior designers.

10. Steve Wozniak

Famous Engineers: The 10 Who Changed The World - EngineeringClicks (9)Stephen Wozniak, born in 1950, and the only living engineer on this list, is an electronics engineer, programmer and technology entrepreneur. As a co-founder of Apple, which is now the largest technology company in the world, he played a huge part in personal computer development.

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Wozniak single-handedly developed the Apple I & II, with the Apple II becoming the first highly successful mass produced personal computer. He oversaw the development of all Apple computers until he left the company in 1985. He then pursued other avenues, creating the first programmable universal remote control, and starting multiple businesses to further work in the GPS and educational industries, among others.

Honorable Mentions

So there is our list of the 10 engineers who made such a big contribution to the engineering field, they changed the world for the better and shaped the lives that we live today. However, there are a couple of engineers who we would like to mention as we feel that they have made quite a significant impact and will continue to make an impact into the future.

Elon Musk

Famous Engineers: The 10 Who Changed The World - EngineeringClicks (10)While he could maybe be classed as more of a businessman than engineer, his impact on the modern world cannot be ignored. Elon musk is a Canadian engineer that is the founder of Tesla Motors, SpaceX and SolarCity.

His ambitious projects have been widely recognised, with his development of an efficient affordable electric car that can be used every day with Tesla Motors, and more recently successfully launching and landing a space rocket with his company SpaceX.

He is also branching out into artificial intelligence with his companies Neuralink and OpenAI, which could change the artificial intelligence field for the future.

Jeff Bezos

Famous Engineers: The 10 Who Changed The World - EngineeringClicks (11)Jeff Bezos is an American entrepreneur, and is founder of the multinational e-commerce company Amazon. He graduated from Princeton University with a degree in electrical engineering, but after working in Wall Street for a while, founded Amazon and the rest is history.

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Amazon provides a number of products and services, including cloud computing, AI and video and audio streaming. It is the world’s largest sales company, and especially in recent years, is changing the way the world shops for goods and services.

He also founded Blue Origin, an aerospace manufacturer and spaceflight services company, with plans to carry out commercial space flight carrying paying customers.

These are two of the men that are having a huge impact on how our modern world works, and will continue to do so for the coming years. We have included ancient engineers to the most modern engineers still alive today, have we left someone out? Would you agree that these are the most influential famous engineers ever to live? Leave us know with a comment down below!


Who is world's most famous engineer? ›

Top ten greatest engineers
  • Fazlur Rahman Khan (1929–1982) ...
  • Burt Rutan (1943–) ...
  • Ada Lovelace (1815–1852) ...
  • Elon Musk (1971–) ...
  • Alice H Parker (1895–1920) ...
  • Ellen Ochoa (1958–) ...
  • George Stephenson (1781–1848) ...
  • Emily Warren Roebling (1843–1903)

Who is the No 1 mechanical engineer in the world? ›

Ranking number 2 on our list of the top 10 mechanical engineering companies in the world is Google. Google is arguably the largest technology company in the world and is known for hiring an endless list of mechanical engineers.
Top 10 Mechanical Engineering Companies in the World 2020.
Name of CompanyNASA
Revenue (USD billions)22.63
HeadquartersWashington, D.C., USA
9 more columns
Nov 2, 2020

What type of engineer is Elon Musk? ›

Elon Musk has no formal engineering degree, but he clearly is industrial engineer by profession. His approach to business and problem solving is typical industrial engineering approach. His actual degrees (BS in both economics and physics) have good overlap with undergraduate curriculum in IE.

Which engineer changed the world? ›

Archimedes is famously known as a gifted mathematician, engineer, inventor, astronomer, and physicist, becoming one of the most influential engineers of all time. His contributions include the Archimedes screw, the block and tackle pulley systems, and the creation of several war machines used to defend cities.

Is Elon Musk an engineer? ›

He is the founder, CEO and chief engineer of SpaceX; angel investor, CEO and product architect of Tesla, Inc.; owner and CEO of Twitter, Inc.; founder of The Boring Company; co-founder of Neuralink and OpenAI; and president of the philanthropic Musk Foundation.

Who is the king of engineering? ›

Mechanical engineering is considered to be the royal branch of engineering as it is the 2nd oldest branch after civil engineering. A mechanical engineer deals with machines and their mechanisms.

Which is the No 1 engineering? ›

A great blend of all the engineering technologies, mechanical engineering is among the top of the list of best engineering courses.

What are the 4 main engineers? ›

Engineering professions typically fall under four different types: chemical, civil, electrical and mechanical engineering.

Is Elon Musk a mechanical engineer? ›

Is Elon Musk a mechanical engineer? Elon Musk has no formal engineering degree, but he clearly is industrial engineer by profession. His approach to business and problem solving is typical industrial engineering approach.

What is the highest paid engineer? ›

  • #1 Petroleum Engineer. Median Base Salary: $130,850. ...
  • #2 Computer Hardware Engineer. Median Base Salary: $128,170. ...
  • #3 Aerospace Engineer. Median Base Salary: $122,270. ...
  • #5 Nuclear Engineer. Median Base Salary: $120,380. ...
  • #7 Chemical Engineer. ...
  • #8 Electronics Engineer. ...
  • #10 Sales Engineer. ...
  • #11 Electrical Engineer.
Dec 22, 2022

Who is the father of engineering? ›

Engineers Day: Why India celebrates Engineers Day on the birth anniversary of M. Visvesvaraya - The father of Indian engineering | The Economic Times.

What type of engineer is Mark Zuckerberg? ›

Everyone from Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg to Dennis Ritchie and Sergey Brin have made their marks in the tech world as software engineers and developers. Becoming a software engineer is one of the most rewarding jobs around in the technology space.

What type of engineer is Tony Stark? ›

Tony Stark, the comic's hero with one of the greatest egos of all time, graduated from MIT at age 19 with two majors, one of them being Electrical Engineering. He became a superhero after building Iron Man's sophisticated armor with his incredible talent.

Who was the 1st engineer? ›

Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya was the first engineer of India. His birthday, September 15 is celebrated as Engineer's Day in India every year.

Who is the best engineer in the world now? ›

Ten Top Influential Engineers Today
  • Robert Samuel Langer, Jr.
  • Karen Bausman.
  • Chris Toumazou.
  • Dawn Bonfield.
  • John Perkins.
  • Moshe Kam.
  • Subra Suresh.
  • Ravi V. Bellamkonda.
Aug 31, 2020

Who is the 1st engineer of world? ›

The first engineer known by name and achievement is Imhotep, builder of the Step Pyramid at Ṣaqqārah, Egypt, probably about 2550 bce.

Who is the best engineer in the world right now? ›

Who is the best engineer in the world 2022? A new accolade for 2022, Chief Engineer of the Year was awarded to Mallik Tatipamula for his incredible commitment to international collaboration and dedication to innovation through substantial contributions towards the advancement of 5G technology.


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