Famous 20th Century Engineers

Find out more about the greatest 20th Century Engineers, including Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Sundar Pichai, Steve Wozniak and Howard Hughes.

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

Vote for Your Favourite Engineers

 1 Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla.
25
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 E. Sreedharan

E. Sreedharan.
6
Famous As: Metro Man
Birthdate: June 12, 1932
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Palakkad, Kerala
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 3 Fazlur Rahman Khan

Fazlur Rahman Khan.
5
Famous As: Civil Engineer, Architect
Birthdate: April 3, 1929
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Dhaka, Bangladesh
Died: March 27, 1982

Fazlur Rahman Khan was a Bangladeshi-American architect and structural engineer. Regarded as the father of tubular designs, Khan is credited with designing several skyscrapers, including the Willis Tower and the John Hancock Center. Thanks to his ingenious use of structural systems, Khan is often referred to as the 20th century's greatest structural engineer and the Einstein of structural engineering.

 4 Rudolf Diesel

Rudolf Diesel.
4
Famous As: Inventor of Diesel Engine
Birthdate: March 18, 1858
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 29, 1913

Rudolf Diesel was a German mechanical engineer and inventor best remembered for inventing the Diesel engine. After Diesel's demise, his engine became an important substitution for the steam piston engine. The engine became widespread in applications, such as agricultural machines, submarines, ships, and trucks. His life inspired the 1942 biographical film Diesel, in which he was played by Willy Birgel.

 5 John Bardeen

John Bardeen.
4
Famous As: Nobel Laureate in Physics
Birthdate: May 23, 1908
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Madison, Wisconsin, United States
Died: January 30, 1991

American engineer, physicist and Nobel laureate John Bardeen is the only person who received the Nobel Prize in Physics twice. He shared the first Nobel with William Shockley and Walter Brattain in 1956 for inventing the transistor, and the second with Leon N Cooper and John Robert Schrieffer in 1972 for proposing the BCS theory, a microscopic theory of superconductivity.

 6 Markus Persson

Markus Persson.
14
Famous As: Video Game Programmer & Designer
Birthdate: June 1, 1979
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Stockholm
Swedish game designer Markus Persson, also known by his pseudonym, Notch, created the sandbox video game Minecraft, which Microsoft later bought for $2.5 billion. He also founded the video game company Mojang. He was dragged into controversy for his “tweets” on feminism, race, and the LGBT community.

 7 Amar Bose

Amar Bose.
11
Famous As: Electrical Engineer and Sound Engineer
Birthdate: November 2, 1929
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
Died: July 12, 2013

Amar Bose was an American academic, entrepreneur, sound engineer, and electrical engineer. Bose served as a professor at MIT for more than 45 years. He is also credited with founding a manufacturing company called Bose Corporation where he served as the chairman. In 2008, Amar Bose was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. 

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 8 Wernher Von Braun

Wernher Von Braun.
4
Famous As: Aerospace Engineer
Birthdate: March 23, 1912
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Wyrzysk, Poland
Died: June 16, 1977

German-born American aerospace engineer and space architect, Wernher Von Braun, worked in Nazi Germany's rocket development program as a young man. After World War II, he moved to the United States where he became a pioneer of rocket and space technology in the nation. In his later career, he became director of the newly formed Marshall Space Flight Center.

 9 N. R. Narayana Murthy

N. R. Narayana Murthy.
11
Famous As: Founder of Infosys
Birthdate: August 20, 1946
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Mysore

N. R. Narayana Murthy is an Indian businessman who is credited with co-founding one of the most popular and successful Indian multinational corporations, Infosys. While Fortune magazine named him as one of the 12 greatest entrepreneurs of our time, Time magazine called him the father of the Indian IT sector. Murthy serves as an inspiration to aspiring businessmen in India.

 10 Anatoly Dyatlov

Anatoly Dyatlov.
5
Famous As: Nuclear Engineer
Birthdate: March 3, 1931
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Atamanovo, Russia
Died: December 13, 1995
Anatoly Dyatlov was the deputy chief-engineer of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. He oversaw the safety test that eventually ended in the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Dyatlov was later imprisoned for his negligence but was released in 1990, as part of an amnesty. His recorded memoirs were later released on YouTube.

 11 Vladimir Komarov

Vladimir Komarov.
4
Famous As: Pilot
Birthdate: March 16, 1927
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Moscow
Died: April 24, 1967

Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov was the first from his country to fly into space twice. He died when his Soyuz 1 capsule crashed while re-entering the Earth, due to a parachute failure, on April 24, 1967, which made him the first human to die in a space flight.

 12 Shiva Ayyadurai

Shiva Ayyadurai.
11
Famous As: Inventor of Email
Birthdate: December 2, 1963
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Tamil Nadu

Shiva Ayyadurai is an Indian-American engineer, scientist, and entrepreneur. He gained recognition after claiming to be the inventor of email, which is widely disputed even today. His claim is based on a software called EMAIL, which he wrote while studying at Livingston High School in the late-1970s. He is also known for his unfounded medical claims, including treatments for COVID-19.

 13 Vitalik Buterin

Vitalik Buterin
6
Famous As: Computer scientist
Birthdate: January 31, 1994
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kolomna, Russia

 14 Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong.
2
Famous As: First Person To Walk On The Moon
Birthdate: August 5, 1930
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Wapakoneta, Ohio, United States
Died: August 25, 2012

The first person to walk on the Moon, Neil Armstrong was an astronaut and aeronautical engineer. Prior to his trip to the Moon, he became NASA's first civilian astronaut to fly in space. After resigning from NASA, he taught in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati. He was a Presidential Medal of Freedom awardee.

 15 Gordon Cooper

Gordon Cooper
4
Famous As: Officer, Astronaut, Test pilot, Aerospace engineer, Engineer, Aviator
Birthdate: March 6, 1927
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Shawnee
Died: October 4, 2004

Part of the seven Project Mercury astronauts, Gordon Cooper manned a 34-hour space mission, becoming the first American to stay for a day in space. As part of the Gemini 5 mission, he and his co-pilot proved it was possible for astronauts to survive a mission to the Moon and back.

 16 Lisa Nowak

Lisa Nowak
12
Famous As: Naval flight officer, Astronaut, Engineer, Test pilot
Birthdate: May 10, 1963
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Washington, D.C.

Former NASA astronaut and U.S. Navy captain Lisa Nowak was part of the STS-121 mission. She made headlines when she apparently attempted to kidnap Air Force captain Colleen Shipman, who was getting into a relationship with astronaut William Oefelein, who had previously dated Nowak. Nowak was subsequently dismissed from NASA.

 17 Ferdinand Porsche

Ferdinand Porsche.
4
Famous As: Founder of Porsche Automobile Company
Birthdate: September 3, 1875
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Vratislavice nad Nisou, Liberec, Czechia
Died: January 30, 1951

Ferdinand Porsche was an Austrian-German automotive engineer. He is credited with founding one of the most popular car companies in the world, Porsche AG. He is also credited with creating the Lohner-Porsche mixed hybrid, the first gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle. During World War II, Porsche was a prominent contributor to the German war effort.

 18 Jan Koum

Jan Koum.
6
Famous As: CEO and co-founder of WhatsApp
Birthdate: February 24, 1976
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kiev, Ukraine

Jan Koum is a Ukrainian American computer programmer and entrepreneur. He is credited with co-founding the popular cross-platform messaging service, WhatsApp. One of the most popular billionaires around the world, Koum donated almost $556 million to the donor-advised community foundation, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, in 2014.

 19 Guido van Rossum

Guido van Rossum.
13
Famous As: Programmer
Birthdate: January 31, 1956
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Netherlands
Dutch programmer Guido van Rossum is known as the inventor of the Python programming language. He has also worked with Google and Dropbox earlier. In November 2020, he announced he announced his decision to join the Developer Division of Microsoft. He has won several honors, such as the NLUUG Award.

 20 John Carmack

John Carmack
6
Famous As: Chief technology officer, Aerospace engineer, Programmer, Computer scientist
Birthdate: August 20, 1970
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kansas City

Computer-game developer John Carmack introduced pioneering innovations in the 3-D game arena. He specializes in first-person shooter games, such as Quake and Doom. The id Software founder had spent a year in a juvenile home and had later dropped out of university to become a freelance programmer.

 21 William Edwards Deming

William Edwards Deming.
6
Famous As: Statistician, Electrical Engineer
Birthdate: October 14, 1900
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Sioux City
Died: December 20, 1993

Born to a lawyer, William Edwards Deming grew up to become a renowned mathematical physicist and later taught statistics at the New York University. His research focused on the application of statistical methods to improve quality control in various industries. His ideas were later widely used by Japanese corporates.

 22 Harold Camping

Harold Camping
3
Famous As: Radio personality, Civil engineer
Birthdate: July 19, 1921
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Boulder
Died: December 15, 2013

Californian evangelist and preacher Harold Camping made headlines when he incorrectly predicted the date of the Rapture, or the end of the world, to be May 21, 2011. Initially a civil engineer, Camping later came to be known for leading Family Radio, a Christian broadcast station, in its peak.

 23 Kim Dotcom

Kim Dotcom.
16
Famous As: Entrepreneur, Programmer, Hacker
Birthdate: January 21, 1974
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kiel, West Germany

Kim Dotcom is a German-Finnish internet entrepreneur and political activist. He first gained fame in the 1990s as an internet entrepreneur. He is the founder of the now-defunct file hosting service Megaupload. He is a controversial person and was once convicted on charges of computer fraud. He loves music and has released one album and a few singles. 

 24 Ma Huateng

Ma Huateng.
10
Famous As: CEO of Tencent
Birthdate: October 29, 1971
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Chaoyang, Shantou

Chinese business magnate Ma Huateng, or Pony Ma, is best known as the founder, chairman, and CEO of the technology giant Tencent. His company owns the messaging app WeChat. One of CEOWORLD’s Most Powerful People in the World, he was a delegate of the 12th National People's Congress.

 25 Jack Kilby

Jack Kilby.
9
Famous As: Inventor of integrated circuit
Birthdate: November 8, 1923
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Jefferson City
Died: June 20, 2005

 26 Paul Dirac

Paul Dirac.
6
Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: August 8, 1902
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Bristol
Died: October 20, 1984

English theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate Paul Dirac OM FRS, counted among leading physicists of the 20th century, made fundamental contributions in the early development of quantum electrodynamics and quantum mechanics. He derived the Dirac equation while the modern theory of antimatter began with one of his papers. His book The Principles of Quantum Mechanics remains an influential monograph on the subject.

 27 Deke Slayton

Deke Slayton
4
Famous As: Astronaut
Birthdate: March 1, 1924
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Sparta, Wisconsin, United States
Died: June 13, 1993

 28 Jack Parsons

Jack Parsons
6
Famous As: Researcher
Birthdate: October 2, 1914
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States
Died: June 17, 1952

Rocketry pioneer Jack Parsons is best remembered as one of the founders of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He also co-established the Aerojet Engineering Corporation and developed the first rocket engine that used a propellant. He was also known for his multiple sexual affairs and sex cult rituals.

 29 Anwar al-Awlaki

Anwar al-Awlaki
5
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: April 22, 1971
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Las Cruces
Died: September 30, 2011

Al-Qaeda terrorist and Islamic preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, initially a university lecturer, had been involved in a number of terrorist attack plots, including one in which they had planned to blow up a Detroit-bound airplane. American-born Yemeni Awlaki died in a drone strike ordered by Barack Obama in 2011.

 30 Eric Schmidt

Eric Schmidt.
10
Famous As: Former CEO of Google
Birthdate: April 27, 1955
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Washington, D.C.

 31 Gene Kranz

Gene Kranz
4
Famous As: Officer, Engineer
Birthdate: August 17, 1933
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Toledo

 32 Bernhard Caesar Einstein

Bernhard Caesar Einstein
4
Famous As: Physicist, Engineer
Birthdate: July 10, 1930
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Dortmund
Died: September 30, 2008

Swiss-American physicist and engineer Bernhard Caesar Einstein was better known as the only grandchild of Albert Einstein to have survived beyond childhood. While two of his biological brothers died in infancy, his parents adopted a girl child, too. He grew up to work on night vision and laser technology.

 33 Alexis Tsipras

Alexis Tsipras
8
Famous As: Politician, Civil engineer
Birthdate: July 28, 1974
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Athens

 34 Alan Parsons

Alan Parsons
6
Famous As: Composer, Musician, Record producer
Birthdate: December 20, 1948
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: London

Alan Parsons is an English musician, audio engineer, record producer, and songwriter. He is credited with forming a rock band named The Alan Parsons Project. Over the years, Parsons has won many prestigious awards including a Grammy Award for Best Immersive Audio Album. In the 2021, Parsons was made an OBE for services to music production and music.

 35 Daniel Fredinburg

Daniel Fredinburg.
6
Famous As: Google X Engineer
Birthdate: September 8, 1981
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mission Viejo, California, United States
Died: April 25, 2015

 36 Sid Meier

Sid Meier
6
Famous As: Video game producer, Engineer, Video game designer, Computer scientist
Birthdate: February 24, 1954
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Detroit

Game designer Sid Meier soared to fame with the strategy game series Civilization. Initially a cash-register designer, he later co-founded the gaming company MicroProse. He met his wife at a Lutheran Church, where they both still sing. Apart from the AIAS Hall of Fame Award, he has also penned a memoir.

 37 Steve Albini

Steve Albini
6
Famous As: Record producer, Singer, Engineer, Audio engineer, Singer-songwriter, Guitarist, Journalist, Music journalist
Birthdate: July 22, 1962
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Pasadena

 38 Boris Berezovsky

Boris Berezovsky
4
Famous As: entrepreneur, mathematician, politician, economist
Birthdate: January 23, 1946
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Moscow
Died: March 23, 2013

Russian business-tycoon, engineer, mathematician and government official Boris Berezovsky is counted among the famed Russian oligarchs who made their fortunes during the 1990s, when Russia was going through privatization of state property. He remained a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin since the latter’s election as president in 2000 and was granted political asylum by the UK in 2003.

 39 Tim Sweeney

Tim Sweeney
8
Famous As: Computer programmer
Birthdate: 1970 AD
Birthplace: Potomac, Maryland, United States

 40 Fred C Koch

Fred C Koch.
4
Famous As: Chemical Engineer, Entrepreneur
Birthdate: September 23, 1900
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Quanah, Texas, United States
Died: November 17, 1967

 41 Nandan Nilekani

Nandan Nilekani.
3
Famous As: Founder of Infosys
Birthdate: June 2, 1955
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bangalore

 42 Frederick McKinley Jones

Frederick McKinley Jones.
5
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: May 17, 1893
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Died: February 21, 1961

Best known for inventing an automatic refrigeration system used in long-haul trucks, Frederick McKinley Jones was orphaned at age 7. He quit school as a child and took up menial jobs. After briefly serving the army, he focused on inventing machine parts and ended up with over 60 patents.

 43 Edsger W. Dijkstra

Edsger W. Dijkstra
4
Famous As: Computer scientist
Birthdate: May 11, 1930
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Died: August 6, 2002

 44 Piero Ferrari

Piero Ferrari
6
Famous As: Entrepreneur, Engineer
Birthdate: May 22, 1945
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Castelvetro di Modena

 45 Evan Williams

Evan Williams.
4
Famous As: Co-founder of Blogger & Twitter
Birthdate: March 31, 1972
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Clarks

 46 Bjarne Stroustrup

Bjarne Stroustrup
4
Famous As: Computer scientist, Engineer, Scientist, Programmer, Writer, University teacher
Birthdate: December 30, 1950
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Aarhus

 47 Granville Woods

Granville Woods.
3
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.

 48 Max Yasgur

Max Yasgur
4
Famous As: Farmer
Birthdate: December 15, 1919
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York City
Died: February 9, 1973

 49 Ren Zhengfei

Ren Zhengfei.
5
Famous As: CEO of Huawei
Birthdate: October 25, 1944
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Zhenning Buyei and Miao Autonomous County, Anshun, China

Ren Zhengfei is a Chinese engineer and entrepreneur. He is credited with founding Huawei, the second-largest manufacturer of smartphones and the largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment in the world. He also serves as the CEO of Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. In 2005, Ren Zhengfei was named in Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world list.

 50 Peter Molyneux

Peter Molyneux
6
Famous As: Game programmer, Engineer, Programmer, Game designer
Birthdate: May 5, 1959
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Guildford

Peter Molyneux is an English programmer and video game designer. He is credited with creating several popular video games like Populous, Dungeon Keeper, Theme Park, Godus, and the Fable series. In 2004, he was inducted into the AIAS Hall of Fame. In 2011, Peter Molyneux was honored at the Game Developers Choice Awards with the Lifetime Achievement Award.