10 greatest engineers who revolutionised the world

Engineering is not only viewing the world differently but also changing it. The man who invented the wheel which runs our life every day was probably an engineer too. Without this profession, our world would have become stagnant.

So here today we take a look at some of the greatest engineers to have lived and loved the world!


Arguably the greatest classical engineer of all time, Archimedes influenced almost every field of engineering that existed from Astronomy to Mathematics.

There isn’t much documented about his life but he belonged to the ancient city of Syracuse in Sicily and lived somewhere around 287- 212 BC.

Major Contributions :

Archimedes is the one responsible for developing mathematics as we know it today. He anticipated modern calculus and gave us the concepts of infinitely small and the method of exhaustion which forms the basis of the proof of numerous theorems.The concept of exponentiation to express very large numbers and deriving an approximation of pi remain two of his greatest contributions to the world of science as a whole.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel

He was an English civil engineer and is considered one of the greatest engineers of the 19th century.

The impact of Brunel was immense on the infrastructure of the United Kingdom. He is considered to be one of the greatest figures of the Industrial Revolution.

Major Contributions:

Brunel’s major contribution to the UK will always be The Great Western Railway. This British train operating system exists to this day and serves the people of the UK.

Brunel’s ideas were not always successful but he was the engineer behind many firsts which later blossomed into better ideas. He assisted in the building of the first tunnel under a navigable river. He was also the brain behind the first propeller-driven iron ship that could be driven across an ocean- SS Great Britain.

Truly, was the greatest civil engineer ever born who moved the world with his ideas.

Leonardo da Vinci 

The man behind Monalisa was not just a genius with the paintbrush. Da Vinci was way ahead of his time and some of his discoveries were absolutely a wild dream during his era.

He is widely considered an absolute genius who epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal.

Major Contributions:

He conceptualized the idea of flying machines- which eventually were turned into airplanes many centuries later.

Da Vinci’s notebooks also had the concept of a type of armored vehicle and concentrated solar power.

To put into context, these were the ideas of man in the 1400s- an era that did not even have light or basic electricity. Da Vinci made several major contributions in other fields like anatomy and optics too.

George Stephenson

Born in England, Geroge Stephenson is considered the “Father of Railway”. He is the man behind the very first public intercity railway line between Manchester and Liverpool.

Major Contributions :

Another civil engineer who left an everlasting impact on the world with work.

The standard rail gauge which is used by most of the world’s railways is called the “Stephenson Gauge”. He was the one to choose this 4 feet 8.5 inches gauge which is a major pillar of the modern railway system all over the world.

Robert Stephenson

Following in his father’s footsteps Robert expanded and built on his father’s success.

Like his father, he worked on the railway system as well and expanded the railway network in the UK.

Major Contributions :

Apart from working in the field of railway, Robert was also the brain behind the Victoria Bridge in Montreal- the longest bridge in the world for many years.

He worked on almost 160 commissions from 60 companies and was also responsible for building railways in other countries like Belgium, Norway, and Egypt.

Elon Musk 

How can we not talk about the man who wants to settle humans on Mars?

The South African-born Canadian engineer is a pioneer and arguably the greatest engineer of modern times.

Major Contributions :

He is the founder of SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and SolarCity. All three companies are leading giants in their respective fields.

But Musk’s major contribution will always remain the thought and work behind turning humans into an interplanetary species. SpaceX sponsored the Inspiration4 mission which put 4 untrained civilians into space for a charitable mission.

His company Neuralink is building the “Link”

Chip which is like a Fitbit for the brain. It’ll help quadriplegics gain the power to send text messages. It has been stated to be able to cure morbid obesity, depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.

Burt Rutan 

Elbert Leander “Burt” Rutan is a retired American aerospace engineer and entrepreneur noted for his originality in designing light, strong, unusual-looking, and energy-efficient air and spacecraft. By the time he was eight years old, he was designing and building model aircraft.

Major contributions:

He designed the record-breaking Voyager, which in 1986 was the first plane to fly around the world without stopping or refueling.

He also designed the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, which in 2006 set the world record for the fastest and longest (25,766 miles/41,466 km) nonstop non-refueled circumnavigation flight in history.

In 2004, Rutan’s sub-orbital spaceplane design SpaceShipOne became the first privately funded spacecraft to enter the realm of space, winning the Ansari X-Prize that year for achieving the feat twice within two weeks.

Fazlur Rahman Khan 

Born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, when it was under British rule, Khan can claim the title of “father of the modern skyscraper.” His innovation of tubular design allowed easier construction of high rises.

Kahn was a classically trained structural engineer and architect who would later create designs for buildings that allowed for easier construction of taller and taller buildings.

Major contributions:

Khan was a pioneer in computer-aided design (CAD). He was the designer of the Sears Tower, since renamed Willis Tower, the tallest building in the world from 1973 until 1998, and the 100-story John Hancock Center.

He has been called the “Einstein of structural engineering” and the “Greatest Structural Engineer of the 20th Century” for his innovative use of structural systems that remain fundamental to modern skyscraper design and construction.

Although best known for skyscrapers, Khan was also an active designer of other kinds of structures, including the Hajj airport terminal, the McMath–Pierce solar telescope, and several stadium structures

Nikola Tesla 

Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system.

Tesla studied engineering and physics in the 1870s without receiving a degree, gaining practical experience in the early 1880s working in telephony and at Continental Edison in the new electric power industry.

Major contributions:

He spent some of his life working for Thomas Edison, who is widely lambasted for stealing many of his subordinate’s inventions and claiming credit for himself. Whether true or not, Tesla soon fell out with Edison and left his company to pursue his interests.

His contributions to the design of modern A.C. electrical supplies have had an enormous impact on humanity. Tesla also made significant contributions to modern radio, X-rays, and the induction motor among many others.

Nikolaus Otto

Major contributions:

The Germans engineer from Holzhausen is the reason why the modern railway system functions so efficiently.

Otto successfully developed the compressed charge internal combustion engine which ran on petroleum gas and led to the modern internal combustion engine.

The Association of German Engineers (VDI) created the DIN standard 1940 which says “Otto Engine: internal combustion engine in which the ignition of the compressed fuel-air mixture is initiated by a timed spark”, which has been applied to all engines of this type since.

As mentioned above Otto is responsible for the alternative of the steam engine which was not only more efficient but also much quieter.

He was also the one to start the world’s first company which was solely dedicated to designing and producing internal combustion engines- NA Otto & Cie

Otto was also behind the world’s first free piston atmospheric engine which was named – The Otto and Langen engine

Disclaimer: This information is covered based on the latest research and development available. However, it may not fully reflect all current aspects of the subject matter.

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