Famous 19th Century American Engineers

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla
35
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: July 10, 1856
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Smiljan, Croatia
Died: January 7, 1943

Inventor, engineer and futurist, Nikola Tesla, is best remembered for his contribution to the development of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. A prolific inventor, he had around 300 patents for his inventions. Even though he earned a considerable amount of money, he had poor money management skills and died a poor man.

 2 Frederick Winslow Taylor

Frederick Winslow Taylor
7
Famous As: Mechanical Engineer
Birthdate: March 20, 1856
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: March 21, 1915

American inventor, mechanical engineer and an accomplished tennis and golf player, Frederick Winslow Taylor, regarded as the father of scientific management, sought to improve industrial efficiency. His approach on scientific management, referred to as Taylorism, has significantly influenced development of industrial engineering and production management. His monograph, The Principles of Scientific Management, laid out his views on principles of scientific management.

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 3 Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison
203
Famous As: Inventor of Phonograph & Motion Picture Camera
Birthdate: February 11, 1847
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Milan, Ohio, United States
Died: October 18, 1931

Described as America’s greatest inventor, Thomas Edison’s legacy is an everlasting one. He was the first to help make the incandescent light bulb commercially viable, even though he was not the first inventor of it. Quadruplex telegraph, phonograph, motion picture camera and the alkaline storage battery are some the many innovations that made him a worldwide phenomenon and an icon.

 4 Edwin Howard Armstrong

Edwin Howard Armstrong
4
Famous As: Electrical engineer
Birthdate: December 18, 1890
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Chelsea, New York, United States
Died: February 1, 1954

Edwin Howard Armstrong was an American inventor and electrical engineer. He is credited with developing the superheterodyne receiver system as well as the frequency modulation (FM) radio. During his illustrious career, Armstrong received several awards including the IEEE Medal of Honor, Franklin Medal, and Edison Medal. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1980.

 5 Henry Gantt

Henry Gantt
3
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: May 20, 1861
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Calvert County
Died: November 23, 1919

Best known for creating the Gantt Chart, a management tool used for scheduling tasks, mechanical engineer Henry Gantt had been a disciple and colleague of Frederick W. Taylor. He also prepared ground for the Human Relations School of management and spoke about the social responsibility of business.

 6 Charles F. Kettering

Charles F. Kettering
4
Famous As: Inventor, Engineer & Businessman
Birthdate: August 29, 1876
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Loudonville, Ohio
Died: November 25, 1958

Charles F. Kettering was an American engineer, inventor, and businessman. Kettering is credited with founding Delco Electronics Corporation. Holder of 186 patents, Kettering is also credited with the invention of Freon refrigerant for air conditioning and refrigeration systems. Over the course of his career, Charles F. Kettering won prestigious awards like the IEEE Edison Medal, Hoover Medal, and Franklin Medal. 

 7 George Pullman

George Pullman
3
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: March 3, 1831
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Brocton, New York, United States
Died: October 19, 1897

One of his parents’ 10 children, George Pullman initially took over his father’s carpentry business and secured contracts with New York for the Erie Canal project. The founder of the Pullman sleeping car and a company town, Pullam was criticized for using the military to violently end the 1894 Pullman Strike.

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 8 Willis Carrier

Willis Carrier
5
Famous As: Engineer, Inventor
Birthdate: November 26, 1876
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Angola, New York, United States
Died: October 7, 1950

 9 Charles Proteus Steinmetz

Charles Proteus Steinmetz
4
Famous As: Mathematician, Electrical engineer, Engineer, Scientist, Inventor
Birthdate: April 9, 1865
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Wrocław
Died: October 26, 1923

 10 Granville Woods

Granville Woods
4
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: April 23, 1856
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Columbus, Ohio, United States
Died: January 30, 1910

Granville Woods was 10 when he began working at a machine shop, while continuing his studies at a night school. He grew up to become a steam locomotive engineer and earned the nickname the Black Edison for his countless inventions, most of which were related to electrical systems for railways.

 11 Joseph Strauss

Joseph Strauss
3
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: January 9, 1870
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Died: May 16, 1938

 12 Marc Isambard Brunel

Marc Isambard Brunel
3
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: April 25, 1769
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hacqueville, Normandy, France
Died: December 12, 1849

French-British engineer Marc Isambard Brunel is best known for constructing the Thames Tunnel and had been the chief engineer of New York City. He had also spent time in a debtor’s prison for his association with loss-making projects. He was the father of renowned engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

 13 Emily Warren Roebling

Emily Warren Roebling
3
Famous As: Lady Who Guided The Construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Birthdate: September 23, 1843
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cold Spring, New York
Died: February 28, 1903

 14 Washington Roebling

Washington Roebling
5
Famous As: Civil Engineer
Birthdate: May 26, 1837
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Saxonburg, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: July 21, 1926

 15 Henry J. Kaiser

Henry J. Kaiser
3
Famous As: Engineer, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist
Birthdate: May 9, 1882
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sprout Brook
Died: August 24, 1967

 16 Harry Nyquist

Harry Nyquist
3
Famous As: Physicist, Computer scientist, Engineer, Statistician, Mathematician
Birthdate: February 7, 1889
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kil Municipality
Died: April 4, 1976

 17 Charles Goodyear

Charles Goodyear
3
Famous As: Inventor, Chemist, Engineer
Birthdate: December 29, 1800
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New Haven
Died: July 1, 1860

Charles Goodyear was an American manufacturing engineer and self-taught chemist who developed vulcanized rubber. He invented the chemical process to manufacture pliable, moldable, and waterproof rubber which revolutionized the automobile industry. In 1976, Charles Goodyear was inducted posthumously into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

 18 Auguste Piccard

Auguste Piccard
3
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: January 28, 1884
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Basel, Switzerland
Died: January 28, 1963

 19 William Mahone

William Mahone
2
Famous As: General
Birthdate: December 1, 1826
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Southampton County, Virginia, United States
Died: October 8, 1895

 20 Henry Ford

Henry Ford
16
Famous As: Industrialist
Birthdate: July 30, 1863
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Greenfield Township, Michigan, United States
Died: April 7, 1947

Business magnate and founder of the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford is credited to have made the automobile an accessible conveyance for Americans in the 20th century. Following the success of his company, he became one of the richest and best-known people in the world. He also became known for his pacifism during the first years of World War I.

 21 George Washington Goethals

George Washington Goethals
2
Famous As: Civil engineer
Birthdate: June 29, 1858
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New York City, New York
Died: January 21, 1928

 22 Frank J. Sprague

Frank J. Sprague
2
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: July 25, 1857
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Milford
Died: October 25, 1934

 23 Andrew Kehoe

Andrew Kehoe
4
Famous As: Spree killer
Birthdate: February 1, 1872
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tecumseh
Died: May 18, 1927

 24 Othmar Herman Ammann

Othmar Herman Ammann
2
Famous As: Civil engineer
Birthdate: March 26, 1879
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Died: September 22, 1965

 25 Pierre Charles L'Enfant

Pierre Charles L'Enfant
5
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: August 2, 1754
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: June 14, 1825
Born to a famous French painter in Paris, Pierre Charles L'Enfant later joined the rebels in American Revolutionary War. While working as a military engineer in the U.S., he changed his name from Pierre to Peter. He was hired by George Washington to design the L'Enfant Plan for establishing Washington D.C.

 26 Edith Clarke

Edith Clarke
2
Famous As: Electrical Engineer
Birthdate: February 10, 1883
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Howard County
Died: October 29, 1959

 27 Clarence Birdseye

Clarence Birdseye
3
Famous As: Inventor, Engineer
Birthdate: December 9, 1886
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Brooklyn
Died: October 7, 1956

 28 Lillian Moller Gilbreth

Lillian Moller Gilbreth
3
Famous As: Mother of Modern Management
Birthdate: May 24, 1878
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Oakland
Died: January 2, 1972

 29 Charles F. Brush

Charles F. Brush
2
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: March 17, 1849
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Euclid, Ohio, United States
Died: June 15, 1929

 30 Milton Bradley

Milton Bradley
5
Famous As: Publisher, Writer
Birthdate: November 8, 1836
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Maine
Died: May 30, 1911

 31 Elisha Gray

Elisha Gray
3
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: August 2, 1835
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Barnesville
Died: January 21, 1901

 32 James B. Eads

James B. Eads
2
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: May 23, 1820
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lawrenceburg, Indiana, United States
Died: March 8, 1887

 33 Henry Ossian Flipper

Henry Ossian Flipper
6
Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: March 21, 1856
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Thomasville, Georgia, United States
Died: April 26, 1940

 34 Peter Cooper Hewitt

Peter Cooper Hewitt
2
Famous As: Electrical Engineer
Birthdate: May 5, 1861
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: August 25, 1921

 35 Harley Earl

Harley Earl
3
Famous As: Automotive designer
Birthdate: November 22, 1893
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States
Died: April 10, 1969

 36 John Frank Stevens

John Frank Stevens
2
Famous As: Civil Engineer
Birthdate: April 25, 1853
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: West Gardiner, Maine, United States
Died: June 2, 1943

 37 Elias Howe

Elias Howe
3
Famous As: Inventor, Engineer
Birthdate: July 9, 1819
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Spencer County
Died: January 3, 1867

 38 Benjamin Lee Whorf

Benjamin Lee Whorf
3
Famous As: Anthropologist, Linguist
Birthdate: April 24, 1897
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Winthrop, Massachusetts
Died: July 26, 1941

Benjamin Lee Whorf was a linguist cum fire prevention engineer. Along with his mentor Edward Sapir, he developed what is frequently called the “Sapir–Whorf hypothesis.” Even though he was a chemical engineer by profession, he developed an early interest in linguistics and presented several papers at linguistics conferences. Unfortunately, he died at the relatively young age of 44. 

 39 Gustave Whitehead

Gustave Whitehead
3
Famous As: Aerospace engineer, Engineer
Birthdate: January 1, 1874
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Leutershausen
Died: October 10, 1927

 40 John Garand

John Garand
3
Famous As: Designer
Birthdate: January 1, 1888
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: St. Rémi, Quebec, Canada
Died: February 16, 1974

One of his parents’ 12 children, Canadian-born John Garand moved to the U.S. with his father and siblings after his mother’s death. He went from working in a textile mill as a child to creating the semi-automatic rifle M1 Garand, used widely by the U.S. military in World War II.

 41 Charles Darrow

Charles Darrow
3
Famous As: Inventor, Publisher, Patent inventor
Birthdate: August 10, 1889
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Philadelphia
Died: August 29, 1967

 42 Nora Stanton Blatch Barney

Nora Stanton Blatch Barney
1
Famous As: Civil Engineer, Architect, Women’s Rights Activists
Birthdate: September 30, 1883
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Basingstoke
Died: January 18, 1971

 43 Benjamin Wright

Benjamin Wright
1
Famous As: Civil engineer
Birthdate: October 10, 1770
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Wethersfield, Connecticut, United States
Died: August 24, 1842

 44 David Dunbar Buick

David Dunbar Buick
2
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: September 17, 1854
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Arbroath, Scotland
Died: March 5, 1929

 45 William Henry Ashley

William Henry Ashley
2
Famous As: Miner
Birthdate: 1778 AD
Birthplace: Powhatan County, Virginia, United States
Died: March 26, 1838

 46 Squire Whipple

Squire Whipple
1
Famous As: Civil Engineer
Birthdate: September 16, 1804
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hardwick, Massachusetts, USA
Died: March 15, 1888

 47 Henry M. Leland

Henry M. Leland
2
Famous As: Machinist
Birthdate: February 14, 1843
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Vermont, United States
Died: March 26, 1932

While initially working in the machine plants and firearms industries, Henry M. Leland gradually mastered the art of toolmaking and manufacturing. He later revolutionized the auto industry and was the man behind the car brands Cadillac and Lincoln. He introduced inventions such as the electric starter and the V-8 engine.

 48 Alfred Vail

Alfred Vail
2
Famous As: Machinist
Birthdate: September 25, 1807
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Morristown, New Jersey, United States
Died: January 18, 1859

Alfred Vail, along with Samuel F.B. Morse, revolutionized the American telegraph system. Though initially interested in theology, he changed his career path after meeting Morse. Some scholars believe Vail and Morse had both contributed equally for the development of the Morse code but was not valued.

 49 Arthur E. Kennelly

Arthur E. Kennelly
1
Famous As: Electrical engineer
Birthdate: December 17, 1861
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Colaba, India
Died: June 18, 1939

 50 Washington Augustus Roebling II

Washington Augustus Roebling II
3
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: March 25, 1881
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Trenton, Mercer, New Jersey, United States
Died: April 15, 1912