Retired American astronaut Jim Lovell commanded the iconic Apollo 13 mission and was one of the first three human beings to fly to the Moon, orbit it, and get back to Earth. He had also been a US Navy captain. Following his retirement, Lovell launched a restaurant in Lake Forest.
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.
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.
American television personality Michael Teutul started working at his family company Orange County Iron Works at age 14. He worked as assistant general manager of Orange County Choppers, founded by his father Paul Teutul Sr., but was eventually forced out. Michael is known for his features in TV shows like American Chopper and American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior.
Eugene Stoner is largely remembered for developing the ArmaLite AR-15 rifle, which was a forerunner of the M16 rifle used by the American military. Though he didn’t have any formal education beyond high school, Stoner, like his Russian counterpart, Mikhail T. Kalashnikov, revolutionized the arms industry with his inventions.
Apart from being the US senator from New Mexico, Martin Heinrich is also the vice chair of the Joint Economic Committee. The son of working-class parents, Heinrich was the first from his family to graduate. A mechanical engineer, he had launched his own firm before joining politics.
Ursula Burns made history when she became the CEO of Xerox, becoming the first African-American female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Raised by a working-class single mother, Burns grew up to graduate as a mechanical engineer. She has led the American STEM Education Coalition and served various corporate boards.
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.
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.
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 Henry Gantt
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.
A miller’s son, Roger Boisjoly excelled in tennis while in school and eventually grew up to become a mechanical engineer and an aerodynamicist. As part of the Morton Thiokol team that designed the Space Shuttle Challenger, he correctly predicted that its faulty design could cause an explosion, but was ignored.
13 Bob Behnken
NASA astronaut Bob Behnken has also served as a colonel in the U.S. Air Force. He was the mission specialist on both the STS-123 and STS-130 space flights. The Air Force Achievement Medal winner is married to astronaut K. Megan McArthur. He also holds a radio license.
14 Ben Rich
Known as "the father of stealth," Ben Rich made a significant contribution to the development of the F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter-bomber. Throughout his stint at Lockheed’s Skunk Works, he helped develop numerous military planes. The UCLA alumnus later received the Distinguished Service Cross for his work.
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.
16 Alfred Vail
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.
17 Max Faget
Recipient of the ASME Medal, Belizean-born American mechanical engineer Max Faget, considered an engineering genius, began research for human spaceflight during his time at the NACA. He was the principal designer of the Mercury spacecraft and also worked on the Gemini and Apollo vehicles and the Space Shuttle and retired from NASA as chief of engineering and operations.
18 Gerald Carr
Mechanical and aeronautical engineer Gerald Carr is best remembered for commanding the Skylab 4 mission, which proved that it was possible for humans to live in space for a long period of time. He and his crew also studied Comet Kohoutek. He later formed a company that assisted in space station designing.
Known as the Father of Robotics, Joseph Engelberger went down in history as the developer of the first industrial robot in the U.S., the Unimate, which was installed in a GM plant. His book Robotics in Practice is classic in the field of robotics and has been translated in multiple languages.
Known as the father of the refrigerator, American inventor, mechanical engineer and physicist Jacob Perkins made several useful mechanical inventions. He created improved nail machines and some of the best steel plates for engraving, invented a bathometer, became the first person in Britain to use a uniflow steam engine, and most notably built the world’s first working vapor-compression refrigeration system.
NASA administrator Daniel Goldin was the man behind the “faster, better, cheaper” programs that redefined American space projects. Though considered egocentric by many, he proposed innovative techniques involving nanotechnology and biotechnology for the development of space science in the U.S. Following his retirement, he devoted himself to robotics research.
Elmer Ambrose Sperry is best remembered for inventing gyroscopic compasses and stabilizers, which revolutionized navigation technology back in his time. His products had been of great use to the U.S. Navy. His illustrious career had witnessed him gain over 400 patents through his eight manufacturing companies.
American engineer and inventor Laurens Hammond garnered the first of his 110 patents for a barometer, while still in his teens. He left the Gray Motor Company job after inventing a silent spring-driven clock. His inventions in the ensuing years include, most notably the Hammond organ, the Hammond clock, and Novachord, often regarded as the world's first commercial polyphonic synthesizer.
Nathanael Greene Herreshoff was a distinguished naval architect and yacht designer, whose influence on boat building remains unrivaled to these days. Credited with producing the first modern multihull and the first successful fin-keel yacht, he used innovative ideas and lightest possible materials while building his boats. His boats defended the America’s Cup six times from 1893 to 1920.
Victor Scheinman’s first experience with robots, while watching the sci-fi film The Day the Earth Stood Still, as a child was scary. He overcame the fear by building a wooden model. His pioneering works in the field of robotics includes designing the industrial robot Stanford arm with six degrees of freedom and developing the industrial robotic arm PUMA at Unimation.
26 Jim Cantrell
The CEO of Phantom Space Corporation, Jim Cantrell made headlines when he was hired as a consultant by Elon Musk for working on SpaceX. A qualified mechanical engineer, Cantrell specializes in space transportation technology. He is also an avid racer and had once launched a start-up for restoring vintage race cars.
Aeronautical engineer Frank Piasecki was the first American to get a helicopter pilot’s license. Remembered as the pioneer of the tandem rotor design of helicopters, also known as the Flying Banana model. The National Medal of Technology winner had also designed the first helicopter for the American navy.
28 Simon Lake
Simon Lake was an American inventor who is credited with building the first submarines to operate extensively in the open sea. His first two submarines, Argonaut and Protector, were sold to Russia as US Congress refused to buy them. Later, he built many more submarines and obtainined over two hundred patents for advances in naval design.
Ventilation, heating system, and air conditioning pioneer David Crosthwait was one of the first African-American men to excel in science. Throughout his illustrious career, he managed to gain 80 international patents. He later taught at Purdue University and was presented with an honorary doctorate by the same university.
Best known for inventing the cylinder lock named after him, Linus Yale Jr. was a descendant of the benefactor of Yale University. While working in his father’s lock shop, Yale introduced many innovative designs for bank locks. He also put to use his painting skills in drawing lock designs.
31 Amos Whitney
Amos Whitney was in his early teens when he apprenticed at a machine company. He is best remembered for his manufacturing company Pratt & Whitney, which he set up with Francis A. Pratt. He had designed a number of innovative machine parts for sewing machines, guns, and typewriters.
32 Kate Gleason
Known as successful businesswoman, Catherine Anselm Gleason had many firsts to her credit. The first woman to study engineering at Cornell University, she later became the first female to become receiver of a bankrupt company and successfully restored it. Later, she also became the first female president of a national bank, and member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Francis A. Pratt spent his early days as an apprentice at a machine shop. He later met Amos Whitney, with whom he set up the manufacturing firm Pratt & Whitney. Apart from developing the Lincoln miller, Pratt also contributed to inventing machine parts for sewing machines, guns, and other industries.
Mechanical engineer, manufacturer, entrepreneur and inventor William Sellers is best-remembered for developing the United States standard screw thread. Many of its details were given in his paper A System of Screw Threads and Nuts, presented to the Franklin Institute. He served as president of Franklin Institute and led the leading machine tool firm William Sellers & Co. for years.
Born to a blacksmith, David Wilkinson grew up to be a skilled machine parts manufacturer. A mechanical engineer, he built a lathe for turning iron and brass, which helped the U.S. government manufacture firearms. He is also said to have built the first steamboat in the U.S.
36 John Fritz
Associated with the Bethlehem Iron Works, the Father of the U.S. Steel Industry, John Fritz was one of the pioneers of the Bessemer process and had also introduced open-hearth furnaces and other innovative techniques. He was the first recipient of the John Fritz Medal, launched in his honor.
One of the founders of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Alexander Lyman Holley set up the first American steel plant using the Bessemer process technology, for Corning, Winslow & Company. Ten of his 15 American patents were related to the Bessemer process. He also received the Bessemer Gold Medal.
Inventor George Henry Corliss is remembered for developing the Corliss steam engine, thus introducing innovative features, such as the Corliss valve, to the existing steam engine models. Initially a general store owner, he had also developed various new types of sewing machines, before diverting his focus to steam engines.
Dubbed as First Tailor of the Space Age and Father of the Spacesuit, US mechanical engineer Russell Colley designed the first pressure suit using his wife's sewing machine for American aviator Wiley Post. He then contributed in designing Goodrich XH-5 full-pressure suit for US Army Air Force, full-pressure suits for US Navy, and most notably spacesuits for Project Mercury astronauts.
40 Nathan Read
American engineer and inventor Nathan Read was a steam pioneer. He invented, most notably, the multi-tubular boiler and the high-pressure steam engine, which was different from James Watt’s steam engine. Read’s engine was much lighter and safer, required less fuel and space, and was more convenient and portable. It could be widely used in new fields like steamboat and land-transport.
Arden L. Bement, Jr., known for his ground-breaking research on metallurgy, initially worked as a researcher for companies such as GE. Part of the National Academy of Engineering, he has also taught at MIT. As the director of NIST, he also launched an investigation into the collapse of the WTC towers.
Aeronautical and mechanical engineer Harold E. Froehlich was also a World War II Navy veteran. He had designed high-altitude balloons during his stint at GE. However, he is best remembered for inventing the Alvin, a deep-diving submarine that assisted in locating the wreckage of the Titanic and a lost hydrogen bomb.
GE mechanical engineer William D. Bond is best remembered for his contribution to the development of three-wheeled cars and electric cars. He had also served as part of the National Guard during the Korean War. His vintage inventions now adorn the GM Heritage Center in Michigan.
Herbert Thacker Herr is best remembered for his work on steam turbines. Initially a railroad machinist, he became well-known for his inventions related to train brakes. He later became the vice president and general manager of Westinghouse Machine Company. His inventions were used by the US Navy, too.
45 Robert Collins Truax
Robert Collins Truax was a pioneering rocket engineer and a Navy captain. Among his adventurous ventures was the supposed space tourism rocket named Volksrocket, which he had planned to build with Evel Knievel, but which eventually remained unused. He also founded Truax Engineering, which catered to sea launch missions.