German-born American aerospace engineer and space architect, Wernher Von Braun, worked in Nazi Germany's rocket development program as a young man. After World War II, he moved to the United States where he became a pioneer of rocket and space technology in the nation. In his later career, he became director of the newly formed Marshall Space Flight Center.
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.
Ferdinand Porsche was an Austrian-German automotive engineer. He is credited with founding one of the most popular car companies in the world, Porsche AG. He is also credited with creating the Lohner-Porsche mixed hybrid, the first gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle. During World War II, Porsche was a prominent contributor to the German war effort.
Wilhelm Rontgen was a German physicist and mechanical engineer. He is best remembered for producing and detecting X-rays for which he was honored with the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901. His discovery of X-rays remains one of the greatest achievements in the field of medical science.
Award-winning German computer scientist Konrad Zuse created the world's first program-controlled computer, named Z1. He then moved on to Z3, the first fully functional programmable computer in the world, and Z4, the first commercial digital computer in the world. Post-retirement, he spent most of his time painting.
Gottlieb Daimler was a German engineer, industrialist, and industrial designer. A pioneer of automobile development and internal combustion engines, Daimler is credited with inventing the liquid petroleum-fueled engine. In 1978, Gottlieb Daimler was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.
German industrial designer and educator Dieter Rams became one of the first designers to focus on environment-friendly design. He headed design at Braun and designed a furniture collection for Vitsœ. Associated with the functionalist school of design, he believed in "Less, but Better," which was also the name of his 1995 book.
Though German-born American mathematician and engineer Charles Proteus Steinmetz suffered from a deformed back since childhood, he excelled in math, physics, and classical literature. His ideas on alternating current (AC) systems initiated the electrical era in the US. By the time he died, he had over 200 patents under his name.
Karl Benz was a German engine designer, automotive engineer, and entrepreneur. He designed the Benz Patent Motorcar, for which he received a patent in 1886. He studied mechanical engineering at the University of Karlsruhe before venturing into developing motorcars. His Benz Patent Motorcar is widely regarded as the world's first production automobile.
German business tycoon Dieter Zetsche had just completed his education in electrical engineering when he joined the research department of Daimler-Benz AG. He later headed the Mercedes-Benz Group as its CEO and also appeared as Dr. Z in the company’s commercials. He also served as the chairman of the tourism company TUI AG.
Fritz Todt was a German civil engineer and architect. A senior Nazi, Todt oversaw the construction of Reichsautobahnen, a controlled-access highway, and also served as the Reich Minister for Armaments and Ammunition. Before the start of the Second World War, Todt initiated a military-engineering company called Organisation Todt that oversaw the construction of many Nazi concentration camps.
Stefan Quandt is a German billionaire heir, industrialist, and engineer. Born into one of the wealthiest families, Quandt inherited 17.4% of BMW after his father's death in 1982. He also inherited from Herbert Quandt's substantial holdings in other companies. The Quandt family's role as business people during World War II was depicted in the documentary, The Silence of the Quandts.
The grandson of Porsche founder Ferdinand Porsche, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, nicknamed Butzi, was surprisingly dismissed from his industrial design course due to his supposed incompetence. He ended up designing the legendary sports car Porsche 901, later known as the Porsche 911. He also established the Porsche Design Studio.
Born to a German Jewish family, Ralph H. Baer and his family escaped to New York later. He went from working in a factory to becoming an engineer. While working at Sanders Associates, he developed the idea of playing games on TV and later created the first video game console.
German aeronautical engineer Otto Lilienthal became the first known person to use gliders for a successful flight. A mechanical engineer, he owned a shop and flight factory and developed gliders, with which he completed around 2,000 flights. Lilienthal, however, died after breaking his back in a glider crash.
German engineer and auto designer Wilhelm Maybach once earned the nickname The King of Designers. He collaborated with Gottlieb Daimler and formed Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft, eventually designing the first Mercedes automobiles. He and his son later started an aircraft engine company. In 1996, he was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.
Legendary German aircraft designer Kurt Tank established the design and testing department at the Rohrbach aircraft factory. Apart from developing the German fighter aircrafts Fw 190 and Fw 200 Condor, he also developed warplanes for other countries, the most notable being the Marut for India’s Hindustan Aeronautics.
German auto designer Peter Schreyer began working with Audi as a student and later designed its revolutionary sports car Audi TT. He also designed the VW New Beetle and VW Golf IV for Volkswagen and headed design at Kia. He now serves as the executive design advisor of the Hyundai Motor Group.
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.
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.
Gottfried Feder was a German economist and civil engineer. One of the most important members of the Nazi Party, Feder served as the party's economic theoretician during its formative years. In 1919, Gottfried Feder delivered one of his most famous lectures that lured Adolf Hitler into the Nazi Party.
Starting his career as a mechanic at age 12, Siegfried Marcus grew up to be one of the most legendary engineers and manufacturers of his time. His experimental creation, known as Marcus's second car, was the first automobile with a four-cycle engine and the first that used gasoline as fuel.
Oskar Barnack was a German photographer and inventor. He is credited with building a device, which would later become the first successful 35mm still-camera. Barnack developed the camera, which was named Leica, at the Leitz Company where he was working as an engineer. Oskar Barnack is also credited with creating news images, which he made with his 35 mm camera.