Famous Scottish Engineers

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite Scottish Engineers

 1 
Alexander Graham Bell
(Inventor of Telephone)

Alexander Graham Bell
12
Birthdate: March 3, 1847
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: August 2, 1922

Alexander Graham Bell was a scientist, inventor, and engineer. He is credited with inventing the first functional telephone. He is also credited with co-founding America's major telephone company AT&T, which has been going strong since 1885. Bell's later life was marked by his groundbreaking work in aeronautics, hydrofoils, and optical telecommunications. He was also an ardent supporter of compulsory sterilization.

 2 
James Watt
(Inventor of Steam Engine)

James Watt
13
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.

 3 
William Murdoch
(Engineer)

William Murdoch
6
Birthdate: August 21, 1754
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lugar, Scotland
Died: November 15, 1839

Scottish engineer William Murdoch initially worked for the firm of Matthew Boulton and James Watt. He later made a host of inventions and was the first to use coal gas for illumination. He was also known for his work on steam energy and invented the oscillating engine and the D slide valve.

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 4 

John Logie Baird
12
Birthdate: August 13, 1888
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Helensburgh
Died: June 14, 1946

Scottish inventor, electrical engineer, and innovator, John Logie Baird, is best known for demonstrating a working TV system in 1926. He then went on to invent the first viable purely electronic color TV picture tube and founded the Baird Television Development Company. He was inducted into the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame in 2015.

 5 
Thomas Telford
(Civil Engineer)

Thomas Telford
4
Birthdate: August 9, 1757
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Eskdale, Dumfriesshire, Scotland
Died: September 2, 1834

Scottish civil engineer Thomas Telford had begun his career as a mason at 14, having lost his father in infancy. A self-taught architect, he was responsible for building many structures, including the Caledonian Canal and the Menai Suspension Bridge. Named The Colossus of Roads, he symbolized the Scottish Enlightenment.

 6 

Sandford Fleming
4
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.

 7 
John Loudon McAdam
(Civil engineer, Engineer)

John Loudon McAdam
3
Birthdate: September 21, 1756
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Ayr, Scotland
Died: November 26, 1836

Scottish engineer John Loudon McAdam introduced the world to the macadam road surface, which was more economical and effective than all previous road-construction methods. He suggested that roads should be constructed at an elevated level for better drainage. He also became Britain’s Surveyor-General of Metropolitan Roads.

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 8 
Robert Stevenson
(Civil engineer)

Robert Stevenson
2
Birthdate: June 8, 1772
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland
Died: July 12, 1850

Glasgow-born civil engineer Robert Stevenson initially built lighthouses as part of the Scottish Lighthouse Board. Apart from constructing the Bell Rock Lighthouse in Scotland, he also invented the hydrophore and flashing lights. He was also the grandfather of writer Robert Louis Stevenson. He is part of the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame.

John Charles Walsham Reith, 1st Baron Reith
4
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.

 10 
Chris Sawyer
(Video game designer, programmer best known for creating Transport Tycoon, which has been considered "one of the most important simulation games ever made")

Chris Sawyer
5
Birthdate: October 27, 1967
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Scotland, United Kingdom

Best known as the developer of Transport Tycoon and the RollerCoaster Tycoon franchise, Scottish programmer and video game developer Chris Sawyer is one of the gaming world’s greatest stars and had begun developing games in school. He included inputs from his own hobby of riding rollercoasters in the RollerCoaster Tycoon series.

 11 

David Dunbar Buick
2
Birthdate: September 17, 1854
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Arbroath, Scotland
Died: March 5, 1929

David Dunbar Buick was a Scottish-born American inventor best remembered for establishing the popular Buick Motor Company, which went on to become the basis of the General Motors empire. In 1974, Buick was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame for his immense contribution to the automobile industry in the United States of America.

 12 
Robin Guthrie
(Record producer, Composer, Audio engineer, Songwriter)

Robin Guthrie
5
Birthdate: January 4, 1962
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Grangemouth

Part of the Scottish band Cocteau Twins, Robin Guthrie and his guitar made serious waves in the alternate music scene of the 1980s. He also performed as part of Violet Indiana and has often collaborated with American pianist Harold Budd. He later also stepped into music production.

 13 
John Rennie the Elder
(Civil Engineer)

John Rennie the Elder
2
Birthdate: June 7, 1761
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Phantassie, Scotland
Died: October 4, 1821

John Rennie the Elder was a Scottish civil engineer considered a pioneer in the use of structural cast iron. He designed many bridges, canals, docks, and warehouses. As a young boy, he spent much time in the workshop of Andrew Meikle, a prominent mechanical engineer, and learned from him. He then went on to establish his own engineering practice.  

 14 
Robert Stirling
(Clergyman)

Robert Stirling
2
Birthdate: October 25, 1790
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Perthshire, Scotland
Died: June 6, 1878

Apart from being a clergyman, Robert Stirling was also an inventor and engineer, who created the famed Stirling engine. He was posthumously named to the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame. His inventions also included optical devices. While his grandfather invented the threshing machine, his father, too, made agricultural machinery.

 15 

John Scott Russell
1
Birthdate: May 9, 1808
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Parkhead, Glasgow, Scotland
Died: June 8, 1882

Glasgow-born civil engineer John Scott Russell is best remembered for his contribution to naval architecture. He was the first to build a naval battleship entirely made of iron, the HMS Warrior. His written works include the 3-volume The Modern System of Naval Architecture. He also discovered Russell's solitary wave.

 16 
Dugald Clerk
(Engineer)

Dugald Clerk
1
Birthdate: March 31, 1854
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland
Died: November 12, 1932

Scottish engineer Dugald Clerk is best known for his invention of the two-stroke engine, used widely in motorcycles and other machines. He also headed engineering research of the British Admiralty as its director and was knighted, too. He also co-established the intellectual property service provider Marks & Clerk.

 17 

Alexander Winton
1
Birthdate: June 20, 1860
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Grangemouth, Scotland
Died: June 21, 1932

 18 
William Fairbairn
(Civil engineer)

William Fairbairn
1
Birthdate: February 19, 1789
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kelso, Scotland
Died: August 18, 1874

William Fairbairn is remembered for his pioneering use of wrought iron for building bridges, ship hulls, and beams. Apart from inventing the Lancashire boiler, he also served as the president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. He also introduced proper and systematic investigations of the collapse of structures.

 19 
Andrew Meikle
(Engineer)

Andrew Meikle
1
Birthdate: May 5, 1719
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Scotland, United Kingdom
Died: November 27, 1811

 20 
Henry Bell
(Engineer)

Henry Bell
1
Birthdate: April 7, 1767
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Torphichen, Scotland
Died: March 14, 1830

 21 
Adam Clark
(Civil Engineer)

Adam Clark
1
Birthdate: August 14, 1811
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: June 23, 1866

Edinburgh-born civil engineer Adam Clark was best known for building the Széchenyi Chain Bridge over the Danube, between Buda and Pest in Hungary. He once even made adjustments to prevent the Austrian Imperial Army from causing significant damage to the bridge. He also constructed the Buda Tunnel.

 22 
William John Macquorn Rankine
(Engineer, Physicist, Civil engineer, University teacher)

William John Macquorn Rankine
0
Birthdate: July 5, 1820
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Edinburgh
Died: December 24, 1872

Scottish engineer William John Macquorn Rankine is best known as one of the pioneers of thermodynamics, especially the first law of thermodynamics. He is remembered for his studies on the steam-engine theory and for introducing the Rankine cycle. He also contributed to the domain of soil mechanics.

 23 
John Elder
(Marine Engineer)

John Elder
15
Birthdate: March 8, 1824
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland
Died: September 17, 1869

 24 
Alfred Ewing
(Physicist)

Alfred Ewing
0
Birthdate: March 27, 1855
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Dundee, Scotland
Died: January 7, 1935

Best remembered for discovering the magnetic property of hysteresis, Alfred Ewing also taught at the University of Tokyo and King’s College, Cambridge. He had also penned papers on subjects such as metallic structure and seismology. He also headed naval education of the British Admiralty and was knighted.

 25 
Thomas Leith
(Engineer)

Thomas Leith
2
Birthdate: March 23, 1926
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Cathcart, Glasgow, Scotland
Died: November 7, 2005

 26 
David Anderson
(Civil engineer)

David Anderson
0
Birthdate: July 6, 1880
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Leven, Scotland
Died: March 27, 1953

Scottish civil engineer David Anderson initially served the army and then formed the firm Mott Hay and Anderson, along with engineers David Hay and Basil Mott. He was made the president of the Institution of Civil Engineers and was also later knighted. He was a qualified lawyer, too.