Famous American Engineers

America has always been the hotbed of tinkerers. By 19th century, America was on a fast lane to engineering success. Ground-breaking engineering feats stirred America’s appetite for industrial preeminence and towards the beginning of 19th century, it was already belting out engineering milestones — some original and some borrowed (at times illegally) from British Isles. By the end of that century, America was crafting its own major inventions, like the steamboat and cotton gin. With such engineering advancements, the country was clearly on its way to gaining industrial supremacy. This spurred a rise of famous engineering schools like MIT, the Case Institute, and Stevens Institute of Technology, which generated a steady supply of engineers. Since the last 70 years, America has been the world leader in engineering excellence, ruling markets from steel and cars to energy and aerospace. Let us explore the timeline, trivia, and interesting facts on America's eminent engineers in the biographies presented below.

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
(Inventor, Engineer & Futurist, Who Obtained Over 300 Patents)

Nikola Tesla
40
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 
Claude Shannon
(Mathematician, Engineer & Cryptographer Known as a 'Father of Information Theory')

Claude Shannon
10
Birthdate: April 30, 1916
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Petoskey, Michigan, United States
Died: February 24, 2001

Claude Shannon was an electrical engineer, mathematician, and cryptographer. He is credited with publishing the article A Mathematical Theory of Communication which gave rise to the field of information theory. Hence, Shannon is considered the father of information theory. He is also credited with founding digital circuit design theory. During World War II, he contributed to the field of cryptanalysis.

 3 
Steve Wozniak
(Co-Founder of Apple Inc.)

Steve Wozniak
19
Birthdate: August 11, 1950
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: San Jose, California, United States

Widely recognized as one of the two important pioneers of the personal computer revolution, Steve Wozniak is credited with co-founding Apple Inc. along with Steve Jobs. Not surprisingly, he has been described as one of the men that changed the course of history through technology. Apart from being a programmer and technology entrepreneur, Steve Wozniak is also a well-known philanthropist.

 4 
Bill Nye
(Best Known as the Host of the Science TV Show ‘Bill Nye the Science Guy’)

Bill Nye
5
Birthdate: November 27, 1955
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

Bill Nye is an American mechanical engineer, television presenter, and science communicator. He is known for hosting the live-action science program Bill Nye the Science Guy. He is credited with inventing a hydraulic resonance suppressor tube, which is used on the Boeing 747 airplanes. He also helped develop MarsDial, a sundial that became part of the Mars Exploration Rover missions.

 5 
Grant Imahara
(Known for His Work on the Television Series 'Mythbusters', on Which He Designed and Built Numerous Robots)

Grant Imahara
11
Birthdate: October 23, 1970
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States
Died: July 13, 2020

Grant Masaru Imahara, a Japanese-American electrical engineer, roboticist, television host and actor, began his career at Lucasfilm, where he got involved with several big budget films including Star War franchise. Later, he joined MythBusters as a member of Build Tea and was well-known for his contribution in it. His other important works include White Rabbit Project, BattleBots, Star Trek Continues etc.

 6 
Kevin Systrom
(Co‑founder of Instagram)

Kevin Systrom
4
Birthdate: December 30, 1983
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Holliston, Massachusetts, United States

Computer programmer and entrepreneur Kevin Systrom is one of the co-founders of the photo-sharing app Instagram. He resigned as the Instagram CEO in 2018. He was named to Forbes’s 30 under 30 list in 2014 and was one of the U.S’s richest entrepreneurs below 40 in 2016.

 7 
John DeLorean
(Engineer Known for His Work at 'General Motors' & Founder of the 'DeLorean Motor Company')

John DeLorean
8
Birthdate: January 6, 1925
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States
Died: March 19, 2005

John DeLorean was an American inventor and engineer. Highly regarded for his work at General Motors, John DeLorean was an influential figure in the US automobile industry. He is credited with founding the popular American automobile manufacturer, The DeLorean Motor Company. DeLorean’s life inspired a couple of documentary films, including Framing John DeLorean where he was played by Alec Baldwin.

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 8 
Jawed Karim
(Co-Founder of 'YouTube' and the First Person to Upload a Video to the Site)

Jawed Karim
5
Birthdate: October 28, 1979
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Merseburg, Germany

Jawed Karim is an American Internet entrepreneur and software engineer. Karim is credited with co-founding one of the most popular online video-sharing platforms, YouTube. He is also credited with uploading the first YouTube video named Me at the zoo. During his time working at PayPal, Jawed Karim had designed many of the company's core components, such as its anti-Internet-fraud system.

 9 
Wernher Von Braun
(Known as Father of Rocket Science)

Wernher Von Braun
8
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.

 10 
Phineas Gage
(Construction Foreman)

Phineas Gage
4
Birthdate: July 9, 1823
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Grafton County, New Hampshire, United States
Died: May 21, 1860

Phineas Gage was a railroad construction foreman. He is best remembered for surviving an accident which destroyed much of the left frontal lobe of his brain; during the accident, a large iron rod was driven through his head. Gage's personality was said to have changed after the accident, which contributed immensely to studies about the brain's role in determining personality.

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 11 
Frederick Winslow Taylor
(Mechanical Engineer)

Frederick Winslow Taylor
10
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.

 12 
Linus Torvalds
(Software Engineer, Main developer of the Linux kernel)

Linus Torvalds
12
Birthdate: December 28, 1969
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Helsinki, Finland
Finnish software engineer Linus Torvalds developed the open-source software Linux kernel, the Git system, and the scuba dive planning software Subsurface. Named to Time 100 and inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame, he has also written an autobiography. He is married to Finnish karate champion Tove Torvalds.

 13 
Kalpana Chawla
(Astronaut)

Kalpana Chawla
4
Birthdate: March 17, 1962
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Karnal, Haryana, India
Died: February 1, 2003
Astronaut Kalpana Chawla became the first Indian-origin woman to go to space in the 1997 STS-87 mission. She and the other crew members of the Space Shuttle Columbia STS-107 mission died when the shuttle exploded before reaching Earth. The Indian weather satellite MetSat-1 was renamed Kalpana-1 in her honor.

 14 
Dustin Moskovitz
(Entrepreneur)

Dustin Moskovitz
15
Birthdate: May 22, 1984
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Gainesville, Florida, United States

Dustin Moskovitz is an Internet entrepreneur. He is credited with co-founding the popular social networking service, Facebook. In 2008, he co-founded a web and mobile application called Asana after quitting Facebook. One of the youngest self-made billionaires of all time, Dustin Moskovitz is also renowned for his philanthropic activities; he co-founded a philanthropic organization called Good Ventures in 2011.

 15 
Chamath Palihapitiya
(Founder and CEO of Social Capital)

Chamath Palihapitiya
5
Birthdate: September 3, 1976
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Sri Lanka
Chamath Palihapitiya went from being a Sri Lankan refugee in Canada to a successful venture capitalist. He founded Social Capital and has also worked at Facebook. He was the youngest vice-president of AOL. He co-owns the Golden State Warriors basketball team and has invested in Palantir, Pure Storage, and Playdom.

 16 
Elon Musk
(CEO of Tesla)

Elon Musk
58
Birthdate: June 28, 1971
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Pretoria, South Africa

Entrepreneur, engineer and industrial designer, Elon Musk, is famous as founder of the electronic payment firm PayPal, and the SpaceX spacecraft company. He is also the CEO of Tesla Motors. Elon Musk has plans to revolutionize transportation on earth as well as to space through futuristic technology.

 17 
Fazlur Rahman Khan
(Structural engineer)

Fazlur Rahman Khan
9
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.

 18 
Robert A. Heinlein
(American Novelist Best Known as the 'Dean of Science Fiction Writers')

Robert A. Heinlein
5
Birthdate: July 7, 1907
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Butler, Missouri, United States
Died: May 8, 1988

Robert A. Heinlein was an American author, naval officer, and aeronautical engineer. Heinlein is credited with pioneering a literary subgenre called hard science fiction as he was among the first to stress the importance of scientific accuracy in fiction. Robert A. Heinlein is one of the most influential science-fiction writers of all time.

 19 
John Bardeen
(Engineer and Physicist)

John Bardeen
7
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.

 20 
Neil Armstrong
(The First Person to Walk on the Moon)

Neil Armstrong
4
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.

 21 
Sundar Pichai
(CEO of Google Inc)

Sundar Pichai
23
Birthdate: June 10, 1972
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India

Sundar Pichai is the CEO of Google and its parent company Alphabet Inc. An alumnus of IIT, Stanford and Wharton, Pichai has come a long way, from innovating Google’s products such as Chrome, Google Drive and Google Apps to leading the software giant and being one of the most sought-after names in the tech industry.

 22 
Lisa Nowak
(Flight Engineer on Sts-121 and Former NASA Astronaut)

Lisa Nowak
14
Birthdate: May 10, 1963
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

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.

 23 
Gordon Cooper
(Officer, Astronaut, Test pilot, Aerospace engineer, Engineer, Aviator)

Gordon Cooper
5
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.

 24 
Jack Parsons
(Researcher)

Jack Parsons
6
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.

 25 
John Carmack
(Chief technology officer, Aerospace engineer, Programmer, Computer scientist)

John Carmack
8
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.

 26 
Scott Kelly
(Engineer)

Scott Kelly
11
Birthdate: February 21, 1964
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: City of Orange, New Jersey, United States

 27 
Zoe Quinn
(Video Game Developer)

Zoe Quinn
4
Birthdate: August 13, 1987
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: United States

 28 
Deke Slayton
(Astronaut)

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

 29 
Shiva Ayyadurai
(Entrepreneur)

Shiva Ayyadurai
12
Birthdate: December 2, 1963
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

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.

 30 
Toby Fox
(Video Game Developer and Composer Known for His Games: ‘Undertale’ and ‘Deltarune’)

Toby Fox
4
Birthdate: October 11, 1991
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Manchester, New Hampshire, United States

Video game developer and composer Toby Fox is best known for developing the video games Deltarune and Undertale. He started composing music for webcomics while still in high school. As a video game developer, he created the video game Undertale independently and also released a number of unused musical tracks from the same.

 31 
Martin Cooper
(Engineer)

Martin Cooper
5
Birthdate: December 26, 1928
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Electrical engineer Martin Cooper had initially served the U.S. Navy in the Korean War. He later joined Motorola and pioneered many inventions in wireless communications. The Charles Stark Draper Prize winner also invented the world’s first mobile phone and made the first cell phone call.

 32 
Amar Bose
(The Founder of 'Bose Corporation')

Amar Bose
13
Birthdate: November 2, 1929
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
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. 

 33 
Homer Hickam
(Aerospace Engineer)

Homer Hickam
5
Birthdate: February 19, 1943
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Coalwood, West Virginia, United States

 34 
Sid Meier
(Video game designer, Computer scientist)

Sid Meier
6
Birthdate: February 24, 1954
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Sarnia, Canada

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.

 35 
Shahid Khan
(Business person)

Shahid Khan
9
Birthdate: July 18, 1950
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan Punjab, Pakistan

 36 
Bernhard Caesar Einstein
(The son of Hans Albert Einstein)

Bernhard Caesar Einstein
4
Birthdate: September 10, 1930
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dortmund, Germany
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.

 37 
George Westinghouse
(Entrepreneur)

George Westinghouse
4
Birthdate: October 6, 1846
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Central Bridge, New York, United States
Died: March 12, 1914

Inventor and entrepreneur George Westinghouse was mostly responsible for introducing the U.S. to alternating current (AC). Initially part of the army and the navy, the talented engineer began his journey of inventions with the rotary steam engine and went on to invent several products, such as air brakes.

 38 
Gene Kranz
(Officer, Engineer)

Gene Kranz
4
Birthdate: August 17, 1933
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Toledo

 39 
William Edwards Deming
(Statistician, Electrical Engineer)

William Edwards Deming
6
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.

 40 
Jack Kilby
(Inventor of integrated circuit)

Jack Kilby
9
Birthdate: November 8, 1923
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Jefferson City
Died: June 20, 2005

Nobel Prize-winning engineer Jack Kilby is best remembered for his contribution to the development of the integrated circuit. Born to an electrical engineer, he had his first brush with gadgets as an amateur radio operator. Initially a Texas Instruments employee, he later also taught at the Texas A&M University.

 41 
Steve Albini
(Record producer, Singer, Engineer, Audio engineer, Singer-songwriter, Guitarist, Journalist, Music journalist)

Steve Albini
7
Birthdate: July 22, 1962
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Pasadena

 42 
Judith Resnik
(Engineer)

Judith Resnik
15
Birthdate: April 5, 1949
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Akron, Ohio, United States
Died: January 28, 1986

Judith Resnik was an American software engineer, electrical engineer, pilot, biomedical engineer, and NASA astronaut. She was the fourth woman and the first Jewish woman in space, logging 145 hours in orbit. Resnik, who died during the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986, received several posthumous honors. Judith Resnik’s life and career inspired the 1990 TV movie Challenger.

 43 
Lisa Su
(Entrepreneur)

Lisa Su
10
Birthdate: November 7, 1969
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tainan, Taiwan

Born in Taiwan, Lisa Su, the CEO of AMD, moved to the US at age 3. Lisa eventually earned a PhD in electrical engineering from MIT. Named to the Forbes America’s Self-Made Women 2020 list, she is also the first woman recipient of the IEEE Robert Noyce Medal.

 44 
Wally Schirra
(NASA astronaut who became one of the original seven astronauts chosen for Project Mercury)

Wally Schirra
4
Birthdate: March 12, 1923
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hackensack, New Jersey, United States
Died: May 3, 2007

 45 
Thomas Edison
(Inventor of Phonograph & Motion Picture Camera)

Thomas Edison
206
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.

 46 
Thomas Massie
(Inventor)

Thomas Massie
4
Birthdate: January 13, 1971
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Huntington, West Virginia, United States

Conservative libertarian Republican Thomas Massie is the US Representative from Kentucky's 4th district. Born to a beer distributor, he studied mechanical engineering at MIT and also co-owned a start-up. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he earned Donald Trump’s ire when he opposed a stimulus package to boost the American economy.

 47 
Tim Sweeney
(Computer programmer)

Tim Sweeney
8
Birthdate: 1970 AD
Birthplace: Potomac, Maryland, United States

 48 
Dean Kamen
(Inventor of Segway and iBOT)

Dean Kamen
4
Birthdate: April 5, 1951
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Rockville Centre, New York, United States

 49 
Fred C Koch
(Chemical Engineer, Entrepreneur)

Fred C Koch
4
Birthdate: September 23, 1900
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Quanah, Texas, United States
Died: November 17, 1967

 50 
George Pullman
(Engineer)

George Pullman
3
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.