Mechanical Engineers

A mechanical engineer is a specialist in all fields related to machines, kinematics, thermodynamics and tools. One of the oldest disciplines of engineering, mechanical engineering is one of the largest producers of engineers around the world today, closely followed by civil and aeronautical engineers. Working as a mechanical engineer is known to be an enriching and rewarding experience and the job description involves working to plan, build and examine motor-powered vehicles, manufacturing plants, airplanes, industrial equipment, cybernetics and much more. These engineers are in a highly lucrative position and considering that mechanical engineering is an extraordinarily comprehensive field, the engineer can specialize in a number of areas including, applied mechanics, bioengineering, manufacturing engineering and nuclear engineering to name a few. The oldest documented mechanical engineers can be traced back to Ancient Greece and can be seen in the works of Archimedes. Zhang Heng, the inventor of the seismometer and the water clock, lived between the periods of 78-139 AD, who left behind a great legacy related to ‘mechanics’ around the world. Here is a compilation of a list of famous mechanical engineers, learn more fascinating facts and details about them with their biographies that include trivia, interesting facts, timeline and life history.
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 1 James Watt

James Watt
8
Famous As: Inventor of Steam Engine
Birthdate: January 19, 1736
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland
Died: August 25, 1819
Eighteenth-century Scottish inventor James Watt developed the Newcomen steam engine, by inventing the Watt steam engine, which brough about the Industrial Revolution in Britain and the world. He also co-owned the firm Boulton and Watt and laid down concepts such as horsepower and the watt, the SI unit of power.

 2 Rudolf Diesel

Rudolf Diesel
6
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.

 3 George Stephenson

George Stephenson
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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.

 4 Frederick Winslow Taylor

Frederick Winslow Taylor
12
Famous As: Mechanical Engineer
Birthdate: March 20, 1856
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: March 21, 1915

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.

 5 George Pullman

George Pullman
3
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: March 3, 1831
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Brocton, New York, United States
Died: October 19, 1897

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.

 6 Frederick McKinley Jones

Frederick McKinley Jones
3
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: May 17, 1893
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Died: February 21, 1961

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.

 7 Ursula Burns

Ursula Burns
5
Famous As: Businesswoman
Birthdate: September 20, 1958
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New York

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.

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 8 Granville Woods

Granville Woods
3
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: April 23, 1856
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Columbus, Ohio, United States
Died: January 30, 1910

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.

 9 Bill Nye

Bill Nye
4
Famous As: Television Presenter
Birthdate: November 27, 1955
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

Bill Nye is an American mechanical engineer, television presenter, and science communicator. He is known for hosting the live-action science program Bill Nye the Science Guy. He is credited with inventing a hydraulic resonance suppressor tube, which is used on the Boeing 747 airplanes. He also helped develop MarsDial, a sundial that became part of the Mars Exploration Rover missions.

 10 Henry Gantt

Henry Gantt
3
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: May 20, 1861
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Calvert County
Died: November 23, 1919

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.

 11 Jim Lovell

Jim Lovell
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Famous As: Astronaut
Birthdate: March 25, 1928
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

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.

 12 Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla
0
Famous As: Inventor, Engineer & Futurist, Who Obtained Over 300 Patents
Birthdate: July 10, 1856
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Smiljan, Croatia
Died: January 7, 1943

Inventor, engineer and futurist, Nikola Tesla, is best remembered for his contribution to the development of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. A prolific inventor, he had around 300 patents for his inventions. Even though he earned a considerable amount of money, he had poor money management skills and died a poor man.

 13 Wilhelm Rontgen

Wilhelm Rontgen
4
Famous As: Mechanical engineer, Physicist
Birthdate: March 27, 1845
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lennep, Remscheid, Germany
Died: February 10, 1923

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.

 14 Franklin Chang Díaz

Franklin Chang Díaz
3
Famous As: Astronaut
Birthdate: April 5, 1950
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: San José, Costa Rica

Franklin Chang Díaz is a Costa Rican American physicist, mechanical engineer, and former NASA astronaut. He is credited with founding the Ad Astra Rocket Company where he currently serves as the CEO. On May 5, 2012, Franklin Chang Díaz was inducted into the NASA Astronaut Hall of Fame.

 15 Willis Carrier

Willis Carrier
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Famous As: Engineer, Inventor
Birthdate: November 26, 1876
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Angola, New York, United States
Died: October 7, 1950

 16 Thomas Massie

Thomas Massie
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Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: January 13, 1971
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Huntington, West Virginia, United States

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.

 17 Sandford Fleming

Sandford Fleming
4
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: January 7, 1827
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kirkcaldy, Scotland
Died: July 22, 1915
Hailed as the Father of Standard Time, Canadian engineer ,Sandford Fleming, promoted worldwide standard time zones, a prime meridian, and the use of the 24-hour clock. He also designed Canada's first postage stamp and founded the Royal Canadian Institute in 1849. Fleming gained the reputation as one of the primary railway engineers and was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1897.

 18 Roger Boisjoly

Roger Boisjoly
5
Famous As: Mechanical Engineer
Birthdate: April 25, 1938
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Lowell, Massachusetts, United States
Died: January 6, 2012

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.

 19 Eugene Stoner

Eugene Stoner
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Famous As: Designer
Birthdate: November 22, 1922
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Gosport, Indiana, United States
Died: April 24, 1997

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.

 20 Sergei Krikalev

Sergei Krikalev
4
Famous As: Cosmonaut
Birthdate: August 27, 1958
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia

 21 Albert Göring

Albert Göring
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Famous As: Mechanical engineer
Birthdate: March 9, 1895
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Friedenau
Died: December 20, 1966
Apart from being an engineer who worked for the German army during World War I, Albert Göring is also remembered as the brother of infamous Nazi Party figure and military leader Hermann Göring. Surprisingly, he was anti-Nazi and had helped many Jews, though he remained ostracized due to his family name, post-war.

 22 Thomas Midgley, Jr.

Thomas Midgley, Jr.
3
Famous As: Mechanical and chemical engineer
Birthdate: May 19, 1889
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: November 2, 1944

Thomas Midgley Jr. was an American chemical and mechanical engineer. Midgley played a key role in the development of leaded gasoline and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were later banned due to their negative impact on the environment and human health. Thomas Midgley Jr. was granted over 100 patents during his lifetime.

 23 Michael Teutul

Michael Teutul
6
Famous As: Mechanical engineer
Birthdate: November 26, 1978
Sun Sign: Sagittarius

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.   

 24 Klaus Schwab

Klaus Schwab
4
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: March 30, 1938
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Ravensburg, Germany

World-class economist Klaus Schwab, who established the World Economic Forum and is also its executive chairman, also has a mechanical engineering degree, along with a doctorate in engineering. He has been a University of Geneva professor and has been awarded a host of honorary doctorates and a French knighthood.

 25 Ralph H. Baer

Ralph H. Baer
3
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: March 8, 1922
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Rodalben, Germany
Died: December 6, 2014

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.

 26 Martin Heinrich

Martin Heinrich
4
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: October 17, 1971
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Fallon, Nevada, U.S.

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.

 27 Caglar Ertugrul

Caglar Ertugrul
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: November 5, 1987
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Karşıyaka, İzmir Province İzmir, Turkey

 28 William George Armstrong, Baron Armstrong

William George Armstrong, Baron Armstrong
3
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.

 29 Henry Royce

Henry Royce
3
Famous As: 1st Baronet of Seaton and car designer who co-founded the Rolls-Royce automobile company
Birthdate: March 27, 1863
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Huntingdonshire, England
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.

 30 Bob Behnken

Bob Behnken
3
Famous As: Astronaut
Birthdate: July 28, 1970
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Saint Ann, Missouri, United States

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.

 31 Ben Chifley

Ben Chifley
3
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: September 22, 1885
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia
Died: June 13, 1951

Australian prime minister and Labor Party leader Ben Chifley is chiefly remembered for introducing banking reforms, the expansion of social programs such as immigration schemes, and his light on the hill speech. Born to a blacksmith, he initially worked as a railwayman and then joined politics through trade union movements.

 32 Gaspard-Gustave de Coriolis

Gaspard-Gustave de Coriolis
2
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.

 33 Gustaf de Laval

Gustaf de Laval
2
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: May 9, 1845
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Blasenborg, Sweden
Died: February 2, 1913

Swedish scientist and engineer Gustaf de Laval is remembered for his pioneering contribution to the development of high-speed turbines and the de Laval nozzle. He also made milk-cream separators and milking machines. Apart from being a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, he was also named to the Swedish parliament.

 34 Zdravko Krivokapic

Zdravko Krivokapic
0
Famous As: Prime Minister of Montenegro
Birthdate: September 2, 1958
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Niksic, Montenegro

 35 Hugo Junkers

Hugo Junkers
3
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: February 3, 1859
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Rheydt, Rhine Province, Kingdom of Prussia
Died: February 3, 1935

 36 John Garand

John Garand
3
Famous As: Designer
Birthdate: January 1, 1888
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: St. Rémi, Quebec, Canada
Died: February 16, 1974

One of his parents’ 12 children, Canadian-born John Garand moved to the U.S. with his father and siblings after his mother’s death. He went from working in a textile mill as a child to creating the semi-automatic rifle M1 Garand, used widely by the U.S. military in World War II.

 37 Filipe Nyusi

Filipe Nyusi
0
Famous As: Engineer, Politician
Birthdate: February 12, 1959
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Mueda, Mozambique

 38 Nigel Gresley

Nigel Gresley
3
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: June 19, 1876
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Edinburgh
Died: April 5, 1941

Nigel Gresley designed some of Britain’s most famous steam locomotive engines. He also invented the Gresley conjugated valve gear, which smoothened the running of engines. His A4 Mallard was the world’s fastest steam locomotive. He later won honors such as the CBE and was also knighted.

 39 Ben Rich

Ben Rich
3
Famous As: American engineer
Birthdate: June 18, 1925
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Manila, Philippines
Died: January 5, 1995

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.

 40 Joseph Whitworth

Joseph Whitworth
3
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.

 41 Charles Algernon Parsons

Charles Algernon Parsons
3
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: June 13, 1854
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London, England
Died: February 11, 1931

Copley Medal-winning engineer Charles Algernon Parsons revolutionized marine transport with his invention of a multi-stage steam turbine. His other inventions include a mechanical reducing gear. Apart from being named a Fellow of the Royal Society, he was also knighted and awarded an Order of Merit for his contributions.

 42 Henry M. Leland

Henry M. Leland
3
Famous As: Machinist
Birthdate: February 14, 1843
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Vermont, United States
Died: March 26, 1932

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.

 43 Marc Isambard Brunel

Marc Isambard Brunel
3
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.

 44 Harry Ferguson

Harry Ferguson
3
Famous As: Mechanic
Birthdate: November 4, 1884
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dromore, Northern Ireland
Died: October 25, 1960

Known as the Mad Mechanic, Harry Ferguson was the man behind the invention of the modern tractor, popularly known as the Wee Grey Fergie. He was also the first Irish to build and fly his own plane. His legacy lives on in the Massey Ferguson brand of agricultural machinery.

 45 Alfred Vail

Alfred Vail
3
Famous As: Machinist
Birthdate: September 25, 1807
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Morristown, New Jersey, United States
Died: January 18, 1859

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.

 46 Ludwig Prandtl

Ludwig Prandtl
3
Famous As: Physicist, Mechanical engineer, University teacher
Birthdate: February 4, 1875
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Freising
Died: August 15, 1953

 47 Avijit Roy

Avijit Roy
3
Famous As: Engineer, Blogger
Birthdate: September 12, 1972
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bangladesh
Died: February 26, 2015

 48 John Ericsson

John Ericsson
3
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: July 31, 1803
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Långbanshyttan, Värmland, Sweden
Died: March 8, 1889

Swedish-born American naval engineer and inventor John Ericsson is most remembered for designing and building the first armoured turret warship and developing the screw propeller. The warship – USS Monitor – is credited for keeping the Union (North) Navy stay protected during the American Civil War. His other inventions include the torpedo technology and solar machine.

 49 Karl Terzaghi

Karl Terzaghi
3
Famous As: Mechanical engineer
Birthdate: October 2, 1883
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Prague, Czechia
Died: October 25, 1963

The pioneer of soil mechanics, Karl Terzaghi was the son of an army lieutenant-colonel and studied in a military boarding school, where he developed his passion for geography. He eventually graduated as a mechanical engineer. He later also taught at MIT and penned iconic works such as Erdbaumechanik.

 50 Carl von Linde

Carl von Linde
3
Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: June 11, 1842
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Berndorf, Germany
Died: November 16, 1934