American inventor Thomas Edison is best known for his work with electrical devices, such as the lightbulb, electricity distribution systems, or motion pictures recorders and projectors. The fact that most of Edison's inventions had utility patents points at the importance of his discoveries for the future generations. Throughout the years, electrical engineers have turned many of Edison's creations into modern gadgets, such as MP3 or Blue-Ray players. Modern communications are also based on Edison's discoveries and this field has created electrical jobs on a global basis .
Because industrial engineering overlaps with other fields, it is not surprising that the founder of this discipline was a mechanical engineer. Frederick Taylor's interest in machine-tool manufacturing led him to develop his own theories about how to best optimise the processes involved, coining the terms “productivity” and “scientific management”, among others. Taylor is also credited with the invention of high-speed steel, which became a revolutionary material that helped increase the potential of many heavy industries.
Civil engineering has been an important feature in every civilisation. However, it is believed that the founder of modern civil engineering was Leeds-born engineer John Smeaton. Smeaton's interest in mathematics and tool-making led him to build a career in civil engineering, during which he designed bridges, lighthouses, canals, harbours, and viaducts all over the United Kindgom during the last part of the 18th century and forms the basis for many civil engineering jobs.
Smeaton was a co-founder of the Society of Civil Engineers, but more importantly, his legacy includes the re-discovery of cement and the formula known as the Smeaton coefficient, which would be instrumental in the development of aviation.
The history of aerospace engineering is closely linked to aviation. British engineer George Cayley is regarded as the father or aeronautics, the term used to describe aerospace engineering until 1958. Sir Cayley's most important work involved the discovery of the main forces needed for an aircraft to take off (namely, thrust, weight, drag, and lift). The first prototype of an aeroplane can also be credited to George Cayley, who designed it back in 1799.
Cayley's experiments with flying machines led him to design and later build the first glider in history. In order to build the glider, Cayley had to integrate a large number of concepts relating to physics and mechanics. These concepts have proved to be essential in the design of modern aircrafts.
The origins of modern biomedical engineering can be traced back to the 19th century. Credit has to be given to Emil du Bois-Reymond, a German doctor who is considered a pioneer in electrophysiology. His work on the electric properties of living tissue was later used to build medical instruments like the ophthalmoscope.
Nobel Prize winner Wilhelm Roentgen was the inventor of X-ray, one of the most significant advances in biomedical engineering and in diagnostic radiology. The physics professor used a vacuum tube, a cardboard box, and an induction coil to create the first X-ray machine ever built.
Chemical engineering was created as a scientific discipline in the United States after the Industrial Revolution. The three pioneers of chemical engineering (William Walker, Arthur Little, and Warren Lewis) discovered the processes necessary to create a large percentage of today's petrochemical products, such as plastic, synthetic fibres, resins, and fuels like methanol.
After studying chemistry in America and Germany, Walker founded the first chemical engineering school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Today, the most outstanding contributions in this field are given an award that carries Walker's name. Little and Lewis were also chemists and were responsible for the discovery of acetate, which is used in photography, textiles, and medical products.
Mechanical engineering is one of the disciplines that make modern life possible, as we are surrounded by machines and automated processes. Scottish scientist James Watt is considered one of the fathers of mechanical engineering, thanks to the work that led him to design the first modern steam engine. Watt spent four years making improvements on an archaic steam engine, and along the way he designed the first condenser device, which made possible the creation of a locomotive steam engine. Without James Watt's work, it is likely that the Industrial Revolution would never have happened and the countless mechanical engineer jobs. Therefore, he can be considered one of the most influential figures in human history.
Johann Von Zimmermann was also a very influential figure in this field, as he opened the first factory to produce grinding, drilling, and planing machines.
Intrigued by the recent discovery of X-rays, French physicist Antoine Becquerel experimented with uranium hoping to replicate the discovery. In doing so, he came across radioactivity, a key concept in the development of atomic theory and nuclear engineering. Almost fifty years later, Enrico Fermi built the first nuclear reactor, a professor of physics at the University of Chicago.
Today, nuclear power is an important source of electricity across the world. Other applications of nuclear engineering include medicine and industry. To sum up, the contributions made by the founders of nuclear engineering will be decisive in the future of modern society.
US-born engineer Ed Roberts is thought of as the founder of computer engineering, as he designed the world's first personal computer back in 1975. Roberts began his successful journey into computer engineering by designing an electronic calculator in the early 1970s. A few years later, Ed Roberts designed the first PC ever built along with Bill Gates.
In our days, computers have become so commonplace that many routine tasks would be impossible to carry out without them. The significance of the work initiated by Roberts can be observed in everyday items like mobile phones, microwave ovens, and cars, which function thanks to the basic premises of computer engineering.
The development of manufacturing engineering relies on previous discoveries made by mechanical and electric engineers, as these fields are closely related to each other. American professor William Edwards Deming was a pioneer of manufacturing engineering, as he devised a series of theories on how to maximise management and production processes. Large multinationals, like Ford Motor, owe their success to Deming's pioneering theories.
Founders Of Engineering