Famous French Engineers

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Find out more about the greatest French Engineers, including Gustave Eiffel, Henri Fayol, Gustave Caillebotte, Ettore Bugatti and Lazare Carnot.
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 1 
Gustave Eiffel
(French Civil Engineer Known for His Contribution to Building the ‘Statue of Liberty’ and ‘Eiffel Tower’)
Gustave Eiffel
18
Birthdate: December 15, 1832
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Dijon, 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.
 2 
Rudolf Diesel
(Inventor of Diesel Engine)
Rudolf Diesel
8
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.

 3 
Henri Fayol
(Industrialist, Management Thinker)
Henri Fayol
8
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.

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 4 
Ettore Bugatti
(Automobile Designer, Founder and Proprietor of the Automobile Manufacturing Company ‘Automobiles E. Bugatti’)
Ettore Bugatti
4
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 
Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot
(French Mechanical Engineer Who is Described as the Father of Thermodynamics)
Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot
3
Birthdate: June 1, 1796
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: August 24, 1832

Son of French Revolutionary leader and mathematician Lazare Carnot, Sadi Carnot was an engineer in the French army. He later laid down the Carnot cycle of heat engines. Much of his works were buried with him when he died of cholera at 36, due to the contagiousness of the disease.

 6 
Marc Isambard Brunel
(French-British Engineer Who Constructed the 'Thames Tunnel')
Marc Isambard Brunel
3
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.

 7 
Pierre Charles L'Enfant
(French-American Military Engineer Who Designed the Basic Plan for Washington, D.C.)
Pierre Charles L'Enfant
5
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.
 8 
Louis Blériot
(Aviator, Engineer, Inventor, Aerospace engineer)
Louis Blériot
3
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.

 9 
Jacques Vallée
(Scientist)
Jacques Vallée
4
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.

 10 
Marcel Dassault
(Politician, Engineer, Entrepreneur, Aerospace engineer, Inventor, Screenwriter)
Marcel Dassault
3
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 
Gaspard-Gustave de Coriolis
(French Mathematician, Mechanical Engineer and Scientist Who First Described the 'Coriolis Force')
Gaspard-Gustave de Coriolis
2
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.

 12 
Lazare Carnot
(Mathematician, Politician, Engineer, Officer, Physicist)
Lazare Carnot
3
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.

 13 
Fabrice Bellard
(computer scientist, mathematician, engineer)
Fabrice Bellard
3
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.

 14 
Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban
3
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.

 15 
Jean Bastien-Thiry
(Engineer, Aerospace engineer, Military personnel)
Jean Bastien-Thiry
3
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.

 16 
Étienne Lenoir
(Inventor, Engineer)
Étienne Lenoir
2
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. 

 17 
Abraham-Louis Breguet
2
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.

 18 
Jacques de Vaucanson
(Inventor, Engineer)
Jacques de Vaucanson
2
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.    

 19 
Éric Chahi
(Game designer)
Éric Chahi
2
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.

 20 
Claude Chappe
(Inventor)
Claude Chappe
2
Birthdate: December 25, 1763
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Brûlon, Sarthe, France
Died: January 23, 1805
 21 
Camille Jordan
(Mathematician, Engineer, Professor)
Camille Jordan
2
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.

 22 
Clément Ader
(engineer, inventor, aerospace engineer)
Clément Ader
2
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.

 23 
Florence Devouard
(Wikimedian co-founder)
Florence Devouard
3
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.

 24 
Georges Claude
(Engineer)
Georges Claude
2
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.  

 25 
Pierre Bézier
(Engineer and one of the founders of the fields of solid, geometric and physical modelling)
Pierre Bézier
2
Birthdate: September 1, 1910
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
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.

 26 
Charles Bedaux
(Engineer)
Charles Bedaux
2
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.

 27 
Henry Darcy
(Engineer)
Henry Darcy
2
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.

 28 
Robert Esnault-Pelterie
(French Aircraft Designer Known for His Contributions to the Beginnings of Heavier-Than-Air Flight in Europe)
Robert Esnault-Pelterie
1
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.
 29 
Jean-Baptiste Biot
(Mathematician, Physicist, Astronomer, Civil engineer, Engineer, Professor)
Jean-Baptiste Biot
2
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. 

 30 
Villard de Honnecourt
2
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.

 31 
Émile Baudot
(Engineer)
Émile Baudot
1
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.
 32 
Alexandre Darracq
(French Investor, Engineer, Cycle Manufacturer and Automobile Manufacturer)
Alexandre Darracq
1
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.
 33 
Gabriel Voisin
(French Aviation Pioneer and the Creator of Europe’s First Manned, Engine-Powered, Heavier-Than-Air Aircraft)
Gabriel Voisin
1
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.
 34 
Paul Cornu
(French Engineer Known for Designing the World’s First Successful Manned 'Rotary Wing Aircraft')
Paul Cornu
1
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.
 35 
Raymond Aubrac
(French Civil Engineer and the Leader of the French Resistance During the Second World War)
Raymond Aubrac
1
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. 
 36 
Pierre Guillaume Frédéric le Play
(French Engineer, Sociologist and Economist Who Developed Techniques for Systematic Research on the Family)
Pierre Guillaume Frédéric le Play
1
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. 
 37 
Alphonse Pénaud
(French Designer Known for Creating the First Successful Flying Model, Known as the 'Planophore')
Alphonse Pénaud
1
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.
 38 
Eugène Freyssinet
(French Structural and Civil Engineer Who Was the Major Pioneer of 'Prestressed Concrete')
Eugène Freyssinet
1
Birthdate: July 13, 1879
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Objat, Corrèze, 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.  

 39 
Henri Farman
(British-French Aviator Who Popularized the Use of Ailerons to Control the Ascent or Descent of Aircraft)
Henri Farman
1
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. 

 40 
Abraham Moles
(Engineer)
Abraham Moles
1
Birthdate: August 19, 1920
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 22, 1992
 41 
Georges Leclanché
(French Electrical Engineer Famous for His Invention of the 'Leclanché Cell')
Georges Leclanché
1
Birthdate: October 9, 1839
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Parmain, 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. 

 42 
Girard Desargues
(Mathematician)
Girard Desargues
1
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.

 43 
André Cassagnes
1
Birthdate: September 23, 1926
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: January 16, 2013
 44 
Jules Dupuit
(French Engineer and Economist Who Was One of the First to Analyze the Cost-Effectiveness of Public Works)
Jules Dupuit
1
Birthdate: May 18, 1804
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Fossano, Italy
Died: September 5, 1866

Nineteenth-century French civil engineer and economist Jules Dupuit ascertained the economic issues associated with public works. He pioneered the use of the diminishing marginal utility curve, while finding out the optimum cost for using a bridge, and also explained what later came to be known as consumer surplus.

 45 
Leon Charles Thevenin
0
Birthdate: March 30, 1857
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Meaux, France
Died: September 21, 1926
Jean-Xavier Bureau de Pusy
1
 47 
Gerard Mestrallet
(chairman of the board of directors of Engie and as CEO from 2008 to 2016)
Gerard Mestrallet
0
Birthdate: April 1, 1949
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris, France
 48 
François Hennebique
1
Birthdate: April 26, 1842
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: France
Died: March 7, 1921
 49 
René Dumont
(Engineer)
René Dumont
1
Birthdate: March 13, 1904
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Cambrai, France
Died: June 18, 2001
 50 
Pierre-Paul Riquet
1
Birthdate: June 29, 1609
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Béziers, France
Died: October 4, 1680