Greatest Engineers of all Time

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Nasir al-Din al-Tusi

Nasir al-Din al-Tusi(18 February 1201-26 June 1274) was a Persian polymath and prolific writer: an astronomer, biologist, chemist, mathematician, philosopher, physician, physicist, scientist, theologian and Marja Taqleed.He is considered to be the greatest of the later Persian scholars. Iran celebrates Engineer's Day in his memory.

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Nasir al-Din al-Tusi
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Nikolaus August Otto

Nikolaus August Otto (10 June 1832-26 January 1891) was the German inventor of the first internal-combustion engine to efficiently burn fuel directly in a piston chamber. Although other internal combustion engines had been invented (e.g. by Etienne Lenoir) these were not based on four separate strokes. Though the concept of four strokes had been theorised in 1861 by Alphonse Beau de Rochas, Otto was the first to make it practical.

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Nikolaus August Otto
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Luis Augusto Huergo

Luis Augusto Huergowas (November 1, 1837 November 4, 1913) an Argentine engineer prominent in the development of his country's ports. Argentina celebrates Engineer's Day in his memory.

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Luis Augusto Huergo
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Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya

Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya(15 September 1860 14 April 1962), was a notable Indian engineer, scholar, statesman and the Diwan of Mysore during 1912 to 1919. He was a recipient of the Indian Republic's highest honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 1955. He was knighted as a Commander of the Indian Empire by King George V for his myriad contributions to the public good. Every year, 15 September is celebrated as Engineer's Day in India in his memory. He is held in high regard as the first and pre-eminent engineer of India. He was the chief designer of the flood protection system for the city of Hyderabad.

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Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya
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Alan Turing

Alan Turing (23 June 1912 7 June 1954) developed the binary architecture now used in all computers, as well as much of the theory behind computers. He is regarded as the father of computer science. The computer you're currently using would not exist without his contributions to the field. He also broke the German Enigma code during WWII, without which victory would have been far more difficult, if not impossible. After the war he made many other contributions to code making and breaking.

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Alan Turing
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Mikhail Kalashnikov

Mikhail Kalashnikov(November 10, 1919)While much of Kalashnikov's AK-47 was borrowed from other guns, his simplification of their designs to make a nearly flawlessly functioning rifle was his genius. The gun is cheap to manufacture, easy to use, and hard to break. After 57 years the AK-47 is still in production, and there are dozens of different varieties from shotguns to sniper rifles and the familiar assault rifle.

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Mikhail Kalashnikov
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Archimedes of Syracusec

With Archimedes it's difficult to separate the legend from the man. The engineering feats he is rumored to have accomplished include a mirror death-ray and a crane capable of lifting and smashing Roman ships, although they probably never existed. He did improve the catapult, develop levers and pulleys, and invent the Archimedean Screw, a device used to raise water for irrigation or mining. He also calculated pi and developed many mathematical insights without which modern engineering would be impossible.

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Archimedes of Syracusec
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Wilbur and Orville Wright

A clear indication of engineering brilliance is when you essentially invent your field. Other pioneers of flight came before them whose work was invaluable, but it was the Wrights who truly created aeronautical engineering. In a time when people thought of the mechanics of flight as ground locomotion in the air, the Wright brothers saw it as something wholly new. Their development of the three axis control system was necessary to fly controllably. They were also the first to really look at propeller design and aerodynamics. Their work profoundly changed the world.

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Wilbur and Orville Wright
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Hero of Alexandria

This man could have started the Industrial Revolution in 50 AD with the invention of the Aeolipile, a form of steam or jet engine where jets of steam spin a ball. Hero also wrote many works on subjects ranging from pneumatics to mathematics to physics.

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Hero of Alexandria
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James Watt

James Watt's incarnation of the steam engine ushered in the Industrial Revolution. His centrifugal governor kept the engine running at the desired rate, and is a modification so simple and elegant that it may be one of the best ideas of all time.

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James Watt
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Thomas Edison

Edison is the most prolific inventor in history, holding a record 1,097 patents. He developed the phonograph, incandescent light bulb, stock ticker, motion picture camera and projector, and hundreds more. He also created the first electrical plant and distribution infrastructure. Without these inventions, modern life is almost inconceivable.

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Thomas Edison
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Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla is perhaps the greatest electrical engineer of all time. His inventions include fluorescent lighting, the Tesla coil, the induction motor, and 3-phase electricity. He developed the AC-current generation system comprised of a motor and a transformer.

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Nikola Tesla
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Leonardo da Vinci

Perhaps the most visionary man of all time, Leonardo foresaw everything from the helicopter to the tank to the submarine. Modern engineers have proven that many of his designs, including bridges, hang-gliders, transmissions, parachutes, and more would have worked had they been built. There have been few individuals in the history of engineering who have designed so many revolutionary devices that actually worked. Leonardo is, by far, the greatest engineer of all time.

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Leonardo da Vinci
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