Claude Shannon was an electrical engineer, mathematician, and cryptographer. He is credited with publishing the article A Mathematical Theory of Communication which gave rise to the field of information theory. Hence, Shannon is considered the father of information theory. He is also credited with founding digital circuit design theory. During World War II, he contributed to the field of cryptanalysis.
Former NASA astronaut and U.S. Navy captain Lisa Nowak was part of the STS-121 mission. She made headlines when she apparently attempted to kidnap Air Force captain Colleen Shipman, who was getting into a relationship with astronaut William Oefelein, who had previously dated Nowak. Nowak was subsequently dismissed from NASA.
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.
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.
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.
A pioneering computer scientist from the Netherlands, Edsger W. Dijkstra had initially studied theoretical physics, before focusing on computers. He developed the domain of structured programming and also won honors such as the Turing Award. He died at 72, after a long struggle with cancer.
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.
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.
Peter Molyneux is an English programmer and video game designer. He is credited with creating several popular video games like Populous, Dungeon Keeper, Theme Park, Godus, and the Fable series. In 2004, he was inducted into the AIAS Hall of Fame. In 2011, Peter Molyneux was honored at the Game Developers Choice Awards with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
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.
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.
Taylor Wilson is an American nuclear physics enthusiast who is the youngest person ever to produce nuclear fusion using a fusor. He achieved this feat in 2008, at the age of 14.
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.
Martin Eberhard is an American entrepreneur, inventor, and engineer. He is credited with co-founding Tesla, Inc. in 2002. He then served as the company's chairman and CEO. Martin Eberhard was inducted into the University of Illinois Engineering Hall of Fame in 2015.
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.
Ellen Ochoa is an American engineer and classical flautist. A former astronaut, Ochoa was the first Hispanic woman in space. In 2012, she became the first Hispanic director of Johnson Space Center. Ochoa has won several prestigious awards including NASA's Distinguished Service Medal and Space Flight Medals. In 2017, she was inducted into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame.
Colin Chapman was an English inventor, design engineer, and builder in the automotive industry. He is credited with founding the popular British automotive company, Lotus Cars. Chapman is best remembered for achieving major automotive technical advances through his sports car company Lotus Cars. Under Colin Chapman’s leadership, Team Lotus won six F1 Drivers' Championships and seven Formula One Constructors' titles.
Aeronautical designer R. J. Mitchell joined Supermarine at age 21 and worked for them throughout his life. Remembered for designing sea planes, he was also the man behind the fighter aircraft Spitfire, which was used extensively during World War II. The film The First of the Few chronicled his life.
Oliver Heaviside was an English mathematician and physicist. He invented a new technique for solving differential equations and independently developed vector calculus. He is also credited with rewriting Maxwell's equations in the form commonly used today. He formulated the telegrapher’s equations and invented the Heaviside step function as well. In 1922, he received the Faraday Medal.
Hertha Ayrton was a British engineer, physicist, mathematician, and inventor. She is remembered for her work on electric arcs and ripple marks in sand and water, for which she was awarded the Hughes Medal by the Royal Society. As a woman in the 19th century, she had to face innumerable struggles in her career. She was also a passionate suffragist.
Canadian game designer Patrice Désilets is best known for his Assassin's Creed game series. He also contributed to the creative direction of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Hype: The Time Quest. After leaving Ubisoft, he formed his own studio, the Montreal-based Panache Digital Games.
Hungarian-American mathematician Theodore von Karman is best known for his research on aeronautics. Born to a professor father, Karman was a math prodigy in childhood and was pushed into engineering. He was also the first recipient of the National Medal of Science. A bachelor for life, he lived with his mother and sister.
John Frank Stevens, who was mostly a self-taught engineer, worked on the Panama Canal as its chief engineer. Initially associated with the Great Northern Railway, he was later also sent to Russia as part of a team working on the Trans-Siberian Railway. He won awards such as the Hoover Medal.
Telecom magnate Mo Ibrahim was born in Sudan and educated in Egypt and the U.K. His company Celtel International was one of the pioneers in the mobile phone industry in Africa and the Middle East. He was featured on Forbes’s billionaire’s list and offers scholarships for African students through his foundation.
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.
Benjamin Lee Whorf was a linguist cum fire prevention engineer. Along with his mentor Edward Sapir, he developed what is frequently called the “Sapir–Whorf hypothesis.” Even though he was a chemical engineer by profession, he developed an early interest in linguistics and presented several papers at linguistics conferences. Unfortunately, he died at the relatively young age of 44.
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.
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.
Known as Yak on all online forums, video-game designer and programmer Jeff Minter is also the founder of Llamasoft. His games often include characters such as llamas and camels and a healthy dose of psychedelics. He has also appeared in the movie Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.
Moshé Feldenkrais was a Ukrainian-Israeli physicist and engineer. He founded the Feldenkrais Method of physical exercise that aims to improve mind-body coordination. He earned his Doctor of Science in Physics at the University of Paris, where he studied under Marie Curie. He earned a black belt in judo and became a co-founding member of the Ju-Jitsu Club de France.
Fed on pop and rock and roll since his childhood, Ken Scott first decided to become a recording engineer when he watched a television program featuring Carol Deenes' recording session. Beginning his career at Abbey Road Studios at the age of sixteen, he eventually became a successful engineer, working with scores of well-known musicians, including the Beatles and Elton John.
Montgomery C. Meigs was an American civil engineer and US Army officer who played an important role during and after the Civil War, serving as Quartermaster General of the US Army. His work as Quartermaster General is widely regarded as an important factor in the Union victory in the Civil War. Meigs is also credited with masterminding Arlington National Cemetery.