Famous French Engineers

Find out more about the greatest French Engineers, including Gustave Eiffel, Henri Fayol, Gustave Caillebotte, Ettore Bugatti and Lazare Carnot.

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 Rudolf Diesel

Rudolf Diesel
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.

 2 Gustave Eiffel

Gustave Eiffel
Famous As: Architect, Civil Engineer
Birthdate: December 15, 1832
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Dijon, Côte-d'Or, France
Died: December 27, 1923
The man behind the jewel that adorns Paris, the Eiffel Tower, French civil engineer Gustave Eiffel later earned the nickname “the magician of iron.” He revolutionized bridge-building by using compressed-air caissons, designed the Statue of Liberty, and built the first aerodynamic laboratory. He died while listening to Beethoven's 5th symphony.
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 3 Henri Fayol

Henri Fayol
Famous As: Industrialist, Management Thinker
Birthdate: July 29, 1841
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Died: November 19, 1925

Henri Fayol was a French mining engineer, author, mining executive, and director of mines. He is credited with developing a theory of business administration called Fayolism. Along with Frederick Winslow Taylor, Henri Fayol is credited with founding modern management methods.

 4 Ettore Bugatti

Ettore Bugatti
Famous As: Automobile Designer
Birthdate: September 15, 1881
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Milan, Italy
Died: August 21, 1947

Ettore Bugatti was an automobile designer and manufacturer. He is credited with founding the popular car manufacturer Automobiles E. Bugatti, which gained prominence as the maker of some of the fastest and technologically advanced cars of its day. In 2000, Ettore Bugatti was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.

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 5 Marc Isambard Brunel

Marc Isambard Brunel
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.

 6 Pierre Charles L'Enfant

Pierre Charles L'Enfant
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.

 7 Jacques Vallée

Jacques Vallée
Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: September 24, 1939
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Pontoise, Val-d'Oise, France

Jacques Vallée is a French computer scientist, Internet pioneer, venture capitalist, astronomer, ufologist, and author. Vallée is credited with co-developing the first computerized map of Mars, which was used by NASA in the 1960s. An influential personality in the study of UFOs, Jacques Vallée has promoted such hypothesis as the interdimensional hypothesis.

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 8 Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban

Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban
Famous As: Military engineer
Birthdate: May 1, 1633
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Saint-Léger-Vauban
Died: March 30, 1707

Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban was a French military engineer. Widely regarded as the greatest engineer of his generation, Vauban played a prominent role in Western military history. He worked under Louis XIV and his principles for fortifications were used for almost a century. He is credited with building major ports and projects including the Canal de la Bruche.

 9 Louis Blériot

Louis Blériot
Famous As: Aviator, Engineer, Inventor, Aerospace engineer
Birthdate: July 1, 1872
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cambrai
Died: August 2, 1936

Louis Blériot was a French aviator, engineer, and inventor. He is credited with developing the first workable headlamp for cars. He is also credited with making the first working, piloted monoplane. Blériot achieved worldwide fame in 1909 when he became the first person to fly across the English Channel. Louis Blériot also founded the successful aircraft manufacturing company, Blériot Aéronautique.

 10 Marcel Dassault

Marcel Dassault
Famous As: Politician, Engineer, Entrepreneur, Aerospace engineer, Inventor, Screenwriter
Birthdate: January 22, 1892
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris
Died: April 18, 1986

Marcel Dassault was a French industrialist and engineer. He played an important role during the First World War when he developed a type of aircraft propeller which was used by the French army. In 1916, he worked with Louis Coroller and Henry Potez to form a company named Société d'Études Aéronautiques in order to manufacture the SEA series of fighters.

 11 Jean Bastien-Thiry

Jean Bastien-Thiry
Famous As: Engineer, Aerospace engineer, Military personnel
Birthdate: October 19, 1927
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Lunéville
Died: March 11, 1963

Jean Bastien-Thiry was a French engineer and military personnel whose assassination attempt on French President Charles de Gaulle cost him his life. The assassination attempt made international headlines and inspired a novel titled The Day of the Jackal, which was later adapted into a film. Before his treacherous infamy, Bastien-Thiry was credited with creating the Nord SS.10/SS.11 missiles.

 12 Fabrice Bellard

Fabrice Bellard
Famous As: computer scientist, mathematician, engineer
Birthdate: 1972 AD
Birthplace: Grenoble

Fabrice Bellard is a French computer programmer. He is credited with co-founding a telecommunications company named Amarisoft. Bellard is also credited with developing Bellard's formula, which is currently being used in the now-completed distributed computing project, PiHex. A respected programmer, Bellard was honored with the O'Reilly Open Source Award in 2011. He is also credited with writing FFmpeg and QEMU.

 13 Lazare Carnot

Lazare Carnot
Famous As: Mathematician, Politician, Engineer, Officer, Physicist
Birthdate: May 13, 1753
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nolay
Died: August 2, 1823

Lazare Carnot was a French physicist, mathematician, and politician. His role in the Napoleonic Wars and French Revolutionary Wars earned him the sobriquet Organizer of Victory. Carnot is credited with developing innovative defensive designs for forts, such as the Carnot wall which served as a defensive mechanism against infantry and artillery attack.

 14 Pierre Schaeffer

Pierre Schaeffer
Famous As: Composer, Radio personality, Engineer, Musicologist, Music educator, Music theorist, Music critic, Record producer
Birthdate: August 14, 1910
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Nancy
Died: August 19, 1995

Pierre Schaeffer was a French composer, musicologist, writer, engineer, broadcaster, and acoustician. Schaeffer is credited with founding Groupe de Recherche de Musique Concrète. Schaeffer's innovative work in communications, acoustics, and literature as well as his anti-nuclear activism earned him widespread recognition. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential electronic musicians of all time.

 15 Pierre Boulle

Pierre Boulle
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: February 20, 1912
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Avignon, France
Died: January 30, 1994

Pierre Boulle was a French novelist best remembered for writing such novels as Planet of the Apes and The Bridge over the River Kwai, which were adapted into highly successful and award-winning films. Planet of the Apes inspired the creation of popular themed toys and animated series. His works have also inspired several French films like Le Point de mire.

 16 Gaspard-Gustave de Coriolis

Gaspard-Gustave de Coriolis
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: May 21, 1792
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 19, 1843

French mathematician and physicist Gaspard-Gustave de Coriolis proposed what is now known as Coriolis force. While teaching at the École Polytechnique, Paris, he extended the scope of kinetic energy. His On the Calculation of Mechanical Action remains his most significant book. His name remains inscribed on the Eiffel Tower.

 17 André Citroën

André Citroën
Famous As: French industrialist
Birthdate: February 5, 1878
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris
Died: July 3, 1935

André Citroën was a French industrialist. He is credited with founding the popular automobile company Citroën and is best remembered for making Citroën cars. He also helped his company become the world's fourth-largest automobile manufacturer by the beginning of the 1930s. In 1998, he was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.

 18 Claude Chappe

Claude Chappe
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: December 25, 1763
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Brûlon, Sarthe, France
Died: January 23, 1805

 19 Étienne Lenoir

Étienne Lenoir
Famous As: Inventor, Engineer
Birthdate: January 12, 1822
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Luxembourg
Died: August 4, 1900

Étienne Lenoir was a Belgian-French engineer. He is credited with developing the internal combustion engine which was commercialized in sufficient quantities. Lenoir is also credited with inventing such electrical devices as an improved electric telegraph which played a key role during the Franco-Prussian War. 

 20 Jacques de Vaucanson

Jacques de Vaucanson
Famous As: Inventor, Engineer
Birthdate: February 24, 1709
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Grenoble
Died: November 21, 1782

Jacques de Vaucanson was a French artist and inventor. He is credited with creating impressive and innovative automata. De Vaucanson was also the first inventor to design an automatic loom. His ideas for the automation of the weaving process were later perfected by Joseph Marie Jacquard, who created the Jacquard machine.    

 21 Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: May 14, 1973
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, France

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet is a French engineer, advocate, and public figure. A former politician, Kosciusko-Morizet was a member of parliament and also served as the mayor of Longjumeau. In 2012, she also served as Nicolas Sarkozy's spokesperson during the latter's presidential reelection campaign.

 22 Marie François Sadi Carnot

Marie François Sadi Carnot
Famous As: Politician, Civil engineer, Engineer
Birthdate: August 11, 1837
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Limoges
Died: June 25, 1894

Integrity of French statesman Marie François Sadi Carnot led him to get elected as fourth president of the Third French Republic. He assumed office in 1887 at a critical juncture when the republic was almost openly attacked by General Boulanger. Carnot served as the President of France until he was assassinated by Italian anarchist Sante Geronimo Caserio in 1894.

 23 Abraham-Louis Breguet

Abraham-Louis Breguet
Famous As: Horologist
Birthdate: January 10, 1747
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Died: September 17, 1823

Abraham-Louis Breguet was a French horologist who made several innovations in watchmaking in the course of his illustrious career. Widely regarded as the leading watchmaker of his generation, Breguet's clients included members of the European nobility and leading public figures in France. Counted among the greatest horologists of all time, Abraham-Louis Breguet is credited with founding the popular Breguet company.

 24 Camille Jordan

Camille Jordan
Famous As: Mathematician, Engineer, Professor
Birthdate: January 5, 1838
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lyon
Died: January 22, 1922

Camille Jordan was a French mathematician best remembered for his influential Cours d'analyse and his foundational work in group theory. He also served as an educator, teaching at prestigious institutions like the Collège de France and École Polytechnique. The asteroid 25593 Camillejordan is named in his honor.

 25 Éric Chahi

Éric Chahi
Famous As: Game designer
Birthdate: October 21, 1967
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Yerres

Éric Chahi is a French programmer and computer game designer best known for creating popular games like Another World and Heart of Darkness. Another World, which received critical acclaim for its minimalism and atmosphere, went on to be recognized as a cult classic. Éric Chahi is also credited with founding Amazing Studio, which develops interesting games.

 26 Keren Ann

Keren Ann
Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Writer, Engineer, Singer, Audio engineer, Guitarist, Pianist, Record producer, Producer
Birthdate: March 10, 1974
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Caesarea Maritima

Keren Ann is a singer, songwriter, producer, composer, and engineer. In addition to playing the guitar, clarinet, and piano, Ann also writes and engineers musical and choir arrangements. Over the years, she has also contributed to the soundtrack of films like Thelma, Louise et Chantal and Yossi.

 27 Clément Ader

Clément Ader
Famous As: engineer, inventor, aerospace engineer
Birthdate: February 4, 1841
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Muret
Died: March 5, 1925

Clément Ader was a French engineer and inventor best remembered for his pioneering work in aviation. Widely regarded as the father of aviation in France, Clément Ader is still revered for his early powered-flight efforts. His aircraft models are still displayed at Paris' Musée des Arts et Métiers.

 28 Octave Chanute

Octave Chanute
Famous As: Civil engineer
Birthdate: February 18, 1832
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: November 23, 1910

Octave Chanute was a French-American aviation pioneer and civil engineer. He is credited with helping budding enthusiasts like the Wright brothers by providing them with help and advice. He also helped publicize their flying experiments. At the time of his death, Octave Chanute was referred to as the father of aviation.

 29 Florence Devouard

Florence Devouard
Famous As: Wikimedian co-founder
Birthdate: September 10, 1968
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Versailles, France

Florence Devouard is a French engineer who served as the chair of the board of trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation from 2006 to 2008. Since July 2008, Devouard has been serving on the advisory board of the Wikimedia Foundation. Devouard is also credited with co-founding Wikimedia France for which she received a knighthood in the French National Order of Merit.

 30 Jean-Baptiste Biot

Jean-Baptiste Biot
Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist, Astronomer, Civil engineer, Engineer, Professor
Birthdate: April 21, 1774
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris
Died: February 3, 1862

Jean-Baptiste Biot was a French physicist, mathematician, and astronomer. He was a co-discoverer of what became known as the Biot-Savart law of magnetostatics. He is also credited with establishing the reality of meteorites. He made major contributions to the fields of optics and magnetism as well. Cape Biot in eastern Greenland is named in his honor. 

 31 Charles Bedaux

Charles Bedaux
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: October 26, 1886
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: near Paris or Charonton, France
Died: February 18, 1944

Charles Bedaux was a French-American millionaire and production engineer. He is credited with developing the Bedaux System, which decides the amount of money to be paid for a given amount of time. A reliable management consultant, Charles Bedaux worked closely with Nazis and British royalty alike.

 32 Georges Claude

Georges Claude
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: September 24, 1870
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 23, 1960

French engineer and inventor Georges Claude was often referred as the Edison of France. He is most noted for inventing and commercializing neon lighting and having a near monopoly on the new technology, for conducting an experiment to generate thermal energy of the ocean and building the first Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) plant, and for the Claude cycle.  

 33 Pierre Bézier

Pierre Bézier
Famous As: Engineer, Mathematician, Computer scientist
Birthdate: September 1, 1910
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris
Died: November 25, 1999

Born into a family of engineers, Pierre Bézier grew up to earn degrees in both mechanical and electrical engineering. He later redefined the operations at Renault by introducing computer-aided 3D car designs. He popularized what is now known as the Bézier curve and later received a Steven A. Coons Award.

 34 Henry Darcy

Henry Darcy
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: June 10, 1803
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Dijon, France
Died: January 3, 1858

French engineer Henry Darcy had a difficult childhood, having lost his father at 14. Raised by his mother, he later joined the École Polytechnique. He proposed Darcy’s law, which explains the flow of fluids in porous media. He also designed the water supply system of Dijon, his native city.

 35 Robert Esnault-Pelterie

Robert Esnault-Pelterie
Famous As: Aviation pioneer
Birthdate: November 8, 1881
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: December 6, 1957
French aircraft designer Robert Esnault-Pelterie was the first to build ailerons for maintaining lateral control. He also coined the term astronautics. He pioneered several designs of monoplanes and was named to the International Space Hall of Fame. There is a crater on the Moon that bears his name.

 36 Villard de Honnecourt

Villard de Honnecourt
Famous As: Artist
Birthdate: 1200 AD
Birthplace: Picardy, France
Died: 1250 AD

Thirteenth-century French artist Villard de Honnecourt is best remembered for his sketchbook, which he compiled while traveling in search of work. Not only was he well-versed with the structural details of the churches of his time, it is believed he himself had been an architect and an engineer.

 37 Alexandre Darracq

Alexandre Darracq
Famous As: Investor
Birthdate: November 10, 1855
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Bordeaux, France
Died: November 2, 1931
Alexandre Darracq was a French engineer, investor, cycle manufacturer and automobile manufacturer. He established Automobiles Darracq France in Suresnes and was one of the first to plan mass production of motor vehicles. By 1904, Darracq was producing more than ten percent of all automobiles in France. He also built racing cars and founded a school for racing drivers.

 38 Émile Baudot

Émile Baudot
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: September 11, 1845
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Magneux, France
Died: March 28, 1903
French telegraph engineer Émile Baudot was the inventor of Baudot code which was the first means of digital communication. One of the pioneers of telecommunications, Baudot invented a multiplexed printing telegraph system that used his code and allowed multiple transmissions over a single line. The symbol rate measurement is known as baudOffsite Link in Baudot's honor.

 39 Pierre Guillaume Frédéric le Play

Pierre Guillaume Frédéric le Play
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: April 11, 1806
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: La Rivière-Saint-Sauveur, France
Died: April 5, 1882
French mining engineer and sociologist, Pierre-Guillaume-Frédéric Le Play, developed techniques for systematic research on the family. Le Play's first important work, European Workers was a collection of monographs on the moral life and material conditions of 36 working-class families. He utilized the device of the family budget for the purpose of determining standards of living. 

 40 Raymond Aubrac

Raymond Aubrac
Famous As: Civil Engineer
Birthdate: July 31, 1914
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Vesoul, France
Died: April 10, 2012
Raymond Aubrac was a leader of French Resistance during World War II. He was later appointed to a senior post by the Ministry of Reconstruction. He also served as a technical adviser to the government of Morocco in 1996. His ilife inspired two French films -  Claude Berri’s Lucie Aubrac and Boulevard des hirondelles. Aubrac published his autobiography, Where the Memory Lingers, in 1996. 

 41 Paul Cornu

Paul Cornu
Famous As: Engineers
Birthdate: June 15, 1881
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Glos-la-Ferrière, La Ferté-en-Ouche, France
Died: June 6, 1944
French engineer Paul Cornu designed and built the first helicopter to perform a manned free flight. His twin-rotor craft, powered by a 24-horsepower engine, flew briefly at Coquainvilliers in 1907.  Cornu's performance was a considerable progress as his aircraft flew without additional support. Even though his name was written in aviation history, Cornu’s design proved impractical and soon was abandoned.

 42 Guy Béart

Guy Béart
Famous As: Actor, Singer, Singer-songwriter, Television producer, Television presenter, Engineer, Autobiographer, Film score composer
Birthdate: July 16, 1930
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cairo
Died: September 16, 2015

Born to Lebanese parents in Egypt, Guy Béart later moved to France to study music and ended up gaining an engineering degree too. Though riddled with stage fright in the beginning, he later gained fame as a musician and even wrote the classic soundtrack of the movie L'Eau vive.

 43 Gabriel Voisin

Gabriel Voisin
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: February 5, 1880
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Belleville-sur-Saone, France
Died: December 25, 1973
French aviation pioneer Gabriel Voisin was the creator of Europe's first manned, engine-powered, heavier-than-air aircraft. His company became a major producer of military aircraft, notably the Voisin III during World War I. Subsequently, he switched to the design and production of luxury automobiles under the name Avions Voisin. The French aviation pioneer and aircraft manufacturer was inspired by Clément Ader.

 44 Alphonse Pénaud

Alphonse Pénaud
Famous As: Designer
Birthdate: May 31, 1850
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 22, 1880
Alphonse Pénaud, the 19th-century French pioneer of aviation design and engineering, was the originator of the use of twisted rubber to power model aircraft. He created a model airplane called the Planophore which had the first aerodynamically stable flying model in 1871. Pénaud died by suicide amid public ridicule of his ideas and failure to find financial support for research.

 45 Abraham Moles

Abraham Moles
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: August 19, 1920
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 22, 1992

 46 Eugène Freyssinet

Eugène Freyssinet
Famous As: Structural engineer
Birthdate: July 13, 1879
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Objat, France
Died: June 8, 1962

Remembered for designing numerous reinforced-concrete bridges across France, Eugène Freyssinet, an early twentieth century structural and civil engineer, was also one of the pioneers in the use of prestressed concrete. Among his most prestigious projects was the Plougastel Bridge over the Elorn River. With a total length of 888 meter, this was the largest reinforced-concrete bridge constructed till that time.  

 47 Georges Leclanché

Georges Leclanché
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: October 9, 1839
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 14, 1882

Georges Leclanché was a 19th-century French electrical engineer who invented what became known as the Leclanché cell. His invention is considered the forerunner of the modern dry cell battery. He was educated at École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures and had a successful engineering career. He later founded the cells factory "Leclanché-Barbier" with Ernest Barbier. 

 48 Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin

Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin
Famous As: Magician
Birthdate: December 7, 1805
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Blois, France
Died: June 13, 1871

Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin was a French watchmaker turned magician and illusionist. The son of a watchmaker, he followed in his father’s footsteps and had a successful career in this field. He ventured into magic by chance and ended up revolutionizing the field. He is today widely regarded as the father of the modern style of conjuring. 

 49 Henri Farman

Henri Farman
Famous As: Aviator
Birthdate: May 26, 1874
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: July 17, 1958

Henri Farman was an Anglo-French aviator and aircraft designer. Along with his brothers Maurice Farman and Richard, he also manufactured aircraft. As a young man, he was very passionate about cycle racing and motor racing. He eventually ventured into aviation and used his aircraft to set many official records. He later opened a flying school. 

 50 Girard Desargues

Girard Desargues
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: February 21, 1591
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Lyon, France
Died: August 31, 1661

One of the founders of projective geometry, French mathematician Girard Desargues began his career as an architect and an engineer, designing several private and public buildings in Paris and Lyon and also a project for lifting water. Eventually he became associated with a group of Parisian mathematicians and undertook researches on perspective and geometrical projections, publishing several papers on it.