Famous British Engineers

Engineers around the world are engaged in making the lives of masses simpler. They put to use the theories of science for solving practical problems. The Great Britain is home to many such famous engineers who brought about a revolution in the field of technology. Be it electrical, aerospace, marine or automotive engineering, these engineers have made their nation proud with their work, which led to a more sophisticated and better world. William Gosling, Dennis Arbor and Denis Augustine Hanley definitely deserve a mention in the list of eminent British engineers. While Dennis Arbor’s discovery of ‘Holography’ became a foundation for the world-famous ‘3D’ technology, William Gosling's books and scientific papers on electrical engineering paved way for future developments. Civil engineers such as John Howard are world-renowned for pioneering the construction of masterpieces such as the ‘Forth Road’ and ‘Kingsferry’ bridges. In this section you can find biographies of some of the most famous British engineers. Read everything about their life stories, timelines and a few interesting facts & trivia related to their lives.

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 Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
4
Famous As: Civil Engineer
Birthdate: April 9, 1806
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Portsmouth, England
Died: September 15, 1859

English civil engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, is considered "one of the most ingenious and prolific figures in engineering history." Considered a major figure of the Industrial Revolution, he built docks, a series of steamships, and many important bridges and tunnels. He was placed second in a BBC public poll to determine the "100 Greatest Britons" in 2002. 

 2 George Stephenson

George Stephenson.
6
Famous As: Father of Railways
Birthdate: June 9, 1781
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wylam
Died: August 12, 1848

George Stephenson was a British mechanical and civil engineer. Stephenson is credited with pioneering rail transport which is widely regarded as one of the most prominent inventions of the 19th century. Regarded as the Father of Railways, George Stephenson is also credited with developing the standard rail gauge which is used by several railways around the world.

 3 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.

 4 Alan Parsons

Alan Parsons.
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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.

 5 Atticus Ross

Atticus Ross.
6
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: January 16, 1968
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: England, UK

Atticus Ross is an English musician, composer, record producer, audio engineer, and songwriter. He is best known for his work with Trent Reznor; the duo has won prestigious awards, such as an Oscar for Best Original Score and a Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media. Ross has also won a Golden Globe for his work in Soul.

 6 Ross Brawn

Ross Brawn
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Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: November 23, 1954
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Manchester

Ross Brawn is a British Formula One technical director and managing director. A former Formula One team principal, Brawn is widely regarded as the mastermind behind Michael Schumacher's record seven World Drivers' Championship titles. Also known for his charity work, Brawn came up with the Brawn Lifeboat Challenge in order to raise money for a new lifeboat for River Thames.

 7 Peter Molyneux

Peter Molyneux
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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.

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 8 Demis Hassabis

Demis Hassabis
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Famous As: Engineer, Chess player
Birthdate: July 27, 1976
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: London

Demis Hassabis is a British neuroscientist, artificial intelligence (AI) researcher, entrepreneur, and video game designer. He is credited with co-founding DeepMind for which he is currently serving as the chief executive officer. Over the years, he has won several prestigious awards, such as the Mullard Award. In 2017, he was named among the 100 most influential people in Time 100.

 9 James Glaisher

James Glaisher
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Famous As: Meteorologists
Birthdate: April 7, 1809
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Rotherhithe, London, England
Died: February 7, 1903

Renowned meteorologist and aeronaut James Glaisher was a pioneer of balloon flights and had penned the iconic book Travels in the Air. He had also contributed to the formation of the Meteorological Society and the Aeronautical Society of Britain. The 2019 movie The Aeronauts depicts his exploits as a balloonist.

 10 Robert Stephenson

Robert Stephenson
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Famous As: Engineer, Civil engineer, Politician
Birthdate: October 16, 1803
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Willington Quay
Died: October 12, 1859
English civil engineer and locomotive designer Robert Stephenson is remembered for his railroad bridges, the most notable of them being the Britannia Bridge. He was the only son of rail transport pioneer George Stephenson. He had also been a mining engineer in Colombia and was knighted in Belgium, France, and Norway.

 11 Richard Trevithick

Richard Trevithick.
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Famous As: Pioneer of steam-powered road & rail transport
Birthdate: April 13, 1771
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Tregajorran, Cornwall, England
Died: April 22, 1833

Richard Trevithick was a British mining engineer and inventor. A pioneer of rail transport and steam-powered vehicles, Trevithick is credited with developing the first working railway steam locomotive and the first high-pressure steam engine. He was a highly respected figure in the fields of engineering and mining during the peak of his career.

 12 Barnes Wallis

Barnes Wallis.
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Famous As: Inventor of Bouncing Bomb
Birthdate: September 26, 1887
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Ripley
Died: October 30, 1979

Barnes Wallis was an English engineer, inventor, and scientist. He played an important role during the Second World War by inventing the bouncing bomb which was used in Operation Chastise by the Royal Air Force to attack the dams of the Ruhr Valley. Barnes Wallis is also credited with inventing the earthquake bomb and his version of the geodetic airframe.

 13 Tim Shaw

Tim Shaw
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Famous As: Radio host
Birthdate: January 15, 1974
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: United Kingdom

Tim Shaw is a British TV presenter, radio host, and engineer. He is best known for conducting scientific experiments on the streets as part of his popular TV show Street Genius for the National Geographic channel. He is also known for his radio programs, such as Tim Shaw's Asylum for which he has won several awards.

 14 Tony Hoare

Tony Hoare
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Famous As: Computer scientist
Birthdate: January 11, 1934
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Colombo, Sri Lanka

Tony Hoare is a British computer scientist who is credited with developing the sorting algorithm quicksort. He is also credited with developing Hoare logic, a formal system for verifying program correctness. Over the years, Tony Hoare has received several prestigious awards for his contribution to computer science.

 15 John Smeaton

John Smeaton.
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Famous As: Civil Engineer
Birthdate: June 8, 1724
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Austhorpe, Leeds, England
Died: October 28, 1792

John Smeaton was the first person to claim to be a civil engineer. One of his best-known creations was the Eddystone Lighthouse. He was also the first to use hydraulic lime in concrete. He not only won the Copley Medal but was also made a Fellow of The Royal Society.

 16 Magdalen Berns

Magdalen Berns
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Famous As: YouTuber
Birthdate: May 6, 1983
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England, United Kingdom
Died: September 13, 2019

Magdalen Berns was a British YouTuber, software developer, and boxer. She is credited with co-founding a nonprofit institution named For Women Scotland, which aims at bringing about changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004. Magdalen Berns was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She died from glioblastoma in 2019 at the age of 36.

 17 Jonathan Ive

Jonathan Ive
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Famous As: Industrial designer
Birthdate: February 27, 1967
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chingford

Jonathan Ive is a British-American product, industrial, and architectural designer. The former Chief Design Officer (CDO) of Apple Inc., Ive played a major role in the designs of several Apple products, such as the iPhone, MacBook, iMac, iPad, and iPod. He also played an important role in the designs of Apple's architectural projects, such as Apple Stores and Apple Park.

 18 Andrew Gower

Andrew Gower
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Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: December 2, 1978
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Nottingham

Best known as Cutler from the series Being Human, Andrew Gower also impressed his fans with his performance as “Bonnie Prince” Charles Edward Stuart in Outlander. A prominent stage actor, too, he has been part of many Oxford School of Drama productions. He has also experimented with a music career.

 19 Joseph Bazalgette

Joseph Bazalgette
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Famous As: Civil engineer
Birthdate: March 28, 1819
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Enfield, London, England
Died: March 15, 1891

British civil engineer Joseph Bazalgette was the man behind the development of the sewage system of London. He was later knighted for his achievements and had also served as the president of the Institution of Civil Engineers. Another notable work of his was the Hammersmith Bridge.

 20 John Ambrose Fleming

John Ambrose Fleming
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Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: November 29, 1849
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Lancaster, England
Died: April 18, 1945

John Ambrose Fleming was an English electrical engineer and physicist. He is known for inventing the first thermionic valve or vacuum tube and designing the radio transmitter with which the first transatlantic radio transmission was made. Along with  Douglas Dewar and Bernard Acworth, he helped establish the Evolution Protest Movement. Fleming was also a noted photographer and artist. 

 

 21 Oliver Heaviside

Oliver Heaviside
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Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist, Engineer, Telegraphy
Birthdate: May 18, 1850
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Camden Town
Died: February 3, 1925

Oliver Heaviside was an English mathematician and physicist. He invented a new technique for solving differential equations and independently developed vector calculus. He is also credited with rewriting Maxwell's equations in the form commonly used today. He formulated the telegrapher’s equations and invented the Heaviside step function as well. In 1922, he received the Faraday Medal.

 22 William Mulholland

William Mulholland
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Famous As: Civil engineer
Birthdate: September 11, 1855
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Belfast, Ireland, United Kingdom
Died: July 22, 1935

William Mulholland was initially hailed as a hero for building the first aqueduct system of Los Angeles, as the first chief engineer of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. He later resigned taking responsibility for the collapse of the St. Francis Dam, which had caused countless deaths.

 23 Kevin Warwick

Kevin Warwick
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Famous As: Engineer, Writer, University teacher, Computer scientist
Birthdate: February 9, 1954
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Coventry

A professor at the Coventry and Reading universities, engineer Kevin Warwicke specializes in artificial intelligence, robotics, and biomedical engineering. One of his most interesting research interests is the possibility of creating cyborgs, which has earned him the nickname Captain Cyborg. He has been awarded honorary doctorates from several universities.

 24 Clive Sinclair

Clive Sinclair
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Famous As: Entrepreneur, Engineer, Inventor, Computer scientist
Birthdate: July 30, 1940
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Surrey

A consumer electronics pioneer, entrepreneur Clive Sinclair began his business venture selling radio and amplifier kits. He went on to launch the word’s first pocket calculator and later also worked on products such as digital watches and pocket TV. He is a fan of poker and is a Mensa member.

 25 R. J. Mitchell

R. J. Mitchell
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Famous As: Aeronautical engineer
Birthdate: May 20, 1895
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Butt Lane, Kidsgrove, England
Died: June 11, 1937

Aeronautical designer R. J. Mitchell joined Supermarine at age 21 and worked for them throughout his life. Remembered for designing sea planes, he was also the man behind the fighter aircraft Spitfire, which was used extensively during World War II. The film The First of the Few chronicled his life.

 26 Chris Boardman

Chris Boardman
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Famous As: Track cyclist, Sport cyclist, Engineer
Birthdate: August 26, 1968
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hoylake

One of Britain’s greatest cyclists, Chris Boardman is an Olympic gold medalist and has three Tour de France stage wins in his kitty. Nicknamed The Professor, for his preparation for his races, he now produces cycles under the brands Boardman Bikes and Boardman Elite. He is also Greater Manchester’s Transport Commissioner.

 27 Godfrey Hounsfield

Godfrey Hounsfield.
2
Famous As: Developer of X-ray computed tomography
Birthdate: August 28, 1919
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Newark-on-Trent, United Kingdom
Died: August 12, 2004

Nobel Prize-winning British electrical engineer Godfrey Hounsfield is best known for developing the CAT and CT scan techniques along with Allan Cormack. He also led the team that developed Britain’s first all-transistor computer. He was knighted for his achievements, while the measure of radiodensity was named the Hounsfield scale.

 28 Hubert Cecil Booth

Hubert Cecil Booth
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Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: July 4, 1871
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Paris
Died: January 14, 1955

Civil engineer Hubert Cecil Booth had designed everything from Ferris wheels to bridges, but the product that he is most remembered for is the vacuum cleaner, which he invented to introduce a hygienic method of dust removal. He had also designed Navy ships. He rejected the knighthood offered to him.

 29 Elihu Thomson

Elihu Thomson
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Famous As: Engineer, Inventor
Birthdate: March 29, 1853
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Manchester
Died: March 13, 1937

Elihu Thomson was an English-born American inventor and engineer. He is credited with founding major electrical companies in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 1882, Elihu Thomson founded the Thomson-Houston Electric Company which was renamed General Electric Company in 1892 after merging with the Edison General Electric Company. Thomson is also credited with inventing an arc-lighting system.

 30 Roy Thomas Baker

Roy Thomas Baker
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Famous As: Record producer, Audio engineer, Songwriter
Birthdate: November 10, 1946
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Hampstead

 31 Geoffrey de Havilland

Geoffrey de Havilland
3
Famous As: Aerospace engineer, Engineer, Test pilot, Aviator, Entrepreneur
Birthdate: July 27, 1882
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: High Wycombe
Died: May 21, 1965

Aviation pioneer and aircraft designer Geoffrey de Havilland is best remembered for his double-engine warplane Mosquito and the jet airliner Comet. He was part of the Royal Flying Corps and had been knighted for his achievements. He was also the founder of the De Havilland Aircraft Company.

 32 John Charles Walsham Reith, 1st Baron Reith

John Charles Walsham Reith, 1st Baron Reith
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Famous As: Broadcaster
Birthdate: July 20, 1889
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Stonehaven, Scotland
Died: June 16, 1971

Scottish broadcaster John Charles Walsham Reith, 1st Baron Reith is remembered for introducing the concept of independent public service corporations in Britain. He had also been the director-general of the BBC and the minister of information under Neville Chamberlain. He later headed the British Overseas Airways Corporation, too.

 33 George Cayley

George Cayley
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Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: December 27, 1773
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Scarborough, England
Died: December 15, 1857

British engineer and inventor George Cayley was a pioneer of aeronautics and aviation. He designed the world’s first glider that could successfully carry a human being. He was also a prominent Whig and had contributed to the formation of what is now known as the University of Westminster.

 34 Osborne Reynolds

Osborne Reynolds
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Famous As: Physicist, Civil engineer, Engineer
Birthdate: August 23, 1842
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Belfast
Died: February 21, 1912

Osborne Reynolds is best remembered for revolutionizing the fields of hydraulics and fluid dynamics. Born to a clergy father who was also a mathematician, Reynolds developed an interest in mechanics early in life. Reynolds was the first engineering professor at Owens College, Manchester, and also a Royal Society fellow.

 35 William George Armstrong, Baron Armstrong

William George Armstrong, Baron Armstrong
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Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: November 26, 1810
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Died: December 27, 1900

The founder of the Armstrong Whitworth manufacturing company, William George Armstrong, also known as Baron Armstrong, redefined the design of guns and also invented the high-pressure hydraulic mechanism. Initially a lawyer, he later quit his practice to devote more time to engineering. He was also knighted for his feats.

 36 John Chard

John Chard
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Famous As: Engineer, Military personnel
Birthdate: December 21, 1847
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Plymouth
Died: November 1, 1897

Royal Engineers army officer John Chard was one of the 11 men to receive the Victoria Cross for defeating a Zulu army of 4,000 warriors at the battle of Rorke's Drift, with a British army of 135. His handwritten account of the war was later auctioned off for £175,000.

 37 Matthew Boulton

Matthew Boulton
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Famous As: Businessperson, Engineer
Birthdate: September 3, 1728
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Birmingham, England
Died: August 17, 1809

British manufacturer and engineer Matthew Boulton is best remembered as the financier of Scottish engineer James Watt’s pathbreaking steam engine. His Soho Manufactory initially produced metal parts, and he later stepped into John Roebuck’s shoes to partner with Watt, after Roebuck went bankrupt. He also established the Soho Mint.

 38 Tommy Flowers

Tommy Flowers
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Famous As: Technician, Engineer, Computer scientist
Birthdate: December 22, 1905
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Poplar
Died: October 28, 1998

Born to a bricklayer in London’s East End, Tommy Flowers completed his studies in electrical engineering attending night classes while working as an apprentice during the day. He developed Max Newman’s model of a machine that had the potential to decipher German codes and turned it into his Colossus computer.

 39 Martin Birch

Martin Birch
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Famous As: Sound Engineer
Birthdate: December 27, 1948
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: United Kingdom

Initially an audio engineer, Martin Birch, known as a master of hard rock, later produced 10 Iron Maiden albums. He also worked with artists such as Fleetwood Mac and Deep Purple. Interestingly, the cause of his death, at age 71, was not disclosed to the public.

 40 Eddie Kramer

Eddie Kramer
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Famous As: engineer, audio engineer, record producer, composer
Birthdate: April 19, 1942
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Cape Town

Born to anti-Apartheid parents in South Africa, Eddie Kramer later moved to London with his family. An expert in classical piano, he later deviated to jazz and soon became one of the greatest rock producers/engineers of the world. His collaborators included The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and The Rolling Stones.

 41 Henry Royce

Henry Royce
3
Famous As: Entrepreneur, Engineer, Automotive designer
Birthdate: March 27, 1863
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Huntingdonshire
Died: April 22, 1933

Famous for his designs of car and airplane engines, fifteen years old Frederick Henry Royce learned engineering through hands-on during his apprenticeship at Great Northern Railway Company rather than through education. At twenty-one, he started his own engineering business, manufacturing electrically driven cranes, dynamos, and motors, eventually drawing the attention of C.S. Rolls, co-founding the Rolls Royce Company with him.

 42 Mo Ibrahim

Mo Ibrahim.
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Famous As: Entrepreneur
Birthdate: May 3, 1946
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sudan

Telecom magnate Mo Ibrahim was born in Sudan and educated in Egypt and the U.K. His company Celtel International was one of the pioneers in the mobile phone industry in Africa and the Middle East. He was featured on Forbes’s billionaire’s list and offers scholarships for African students through his foundation.

 43 Carl Wilhelm Siemens

Carl Wilhelm Siemens
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Famous As: Electrical Engineer
Birthdate: April 4, 1823
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Gehrden, Germany
Died: November 19, 1883

German-British inventor and electrical engineer, who revolutionized the steel-making and glass-making industries, is best remembered for using the Siemens-Martin process to create the regenerative furnace. His achievements earned him accolades such as the Albert Medal. He was a Fellow of The Royal Society and was knighted shortly before his death.

 44 Paddy Lowe

Paddy Lowe
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Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: April 8, 1962
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nairobi

Paddy Lowe is best known as the former chief of the Mercedes Formula One team. He later established a petroleum company. He and his brother Michael Lowe became the first brother duo to be part of the Royal Academy of Engineering. He has been the chief technical officer of Williams Racing.

 45 Hertha Ayrton

Hertha Ayrton
2
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: April 28, 1854
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Portsea Island, England
Died: August 26, 1923

Hertha Ayrton was a British engineer,  physicist, mathematician, and inventor. She is remembered for her work on electric arcs and ripple marks in sand and water, for which she was awarded the Hughes Medal by the Royal Society. As a woman in the 19th century, she had to face innumerable struggles in her career. She was also a passionate suffragist. 

 46 Alan Blumlein

Alan Blumlein
4
Famous As: Engineer, Audio engineer
Birthdate: June 29, 1903
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London
Died: June 7, 1942

Best known as the inventor of stereo sound, electronic engineer Alan Blumlein had 128 patents in his kitty. He died at age 38, when the Halifax bomber carrying him and his colleagues crashed during World War II. He was apparently part of a secret radar experiment back then.

 47 Ken Adam

Ken Adam
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Famous As: Scenographer, Production designer
Birthdate: February 5, 1921
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Berlin
Died: March 10, 2016

A master production designer, Ken Adam won his first Academy Award for his work in Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. While working as a flight lieutenant during World War II, he had earned the nickname Heinie the Tank-buster. He is also remembered for his sets in a number of James Bond films.

 48 Jeff Minter

Jeff Minter
3
Famous As: Programmer, Engineer, Computer scientist
Birthdate: April 22, 1962
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Reading

Known as Yak on all online forums, video-game designer and programmer Jeff Minter is also the founder of Llamasoft. His games often include characters such as llamas and camels and a healthy dose of psychedelics. He has also appeared in the movie Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.

 49 William Playfair

William Playfair
3
Famous As: Economist, Mathematician, Engineer, Statistician
Birthdate: September 22, 1759
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dundee
Died: February 11, 1823

Scottish engineer and political economist William Playfair is best-remembered as the inventor of statistical graphs and secret agent for Great Britain during its war with France. He published the first data graphs in his book The Commercial and Political Atlas. He used line, area and bar charts to represent the economy of 18th Century England and introduced the pie chart.

 50 Joseph Whitworth

Joseph Whitworth
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Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: December 21, 1803
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Stockport, England
Died: January 22, 1887

Mechanical engineer Joseph Whitworth is best remembered for devising the British Standard Whitworth system for screw threads. He contributed a lot to the development of Owens College, introduced a scholarship, and left most of his fortunes to the people of Manchester. He was also made a baronet of the U.K.