Engineers You May Not Know
The aerospace and automotive industries have undergone masses of change and innovation over the past century. This can be most keenly seen in the example of flight. The first of which occurred in 1903 and lasted all of 12 seconds; whereas, today, a flight from Europe to Australia is on the horizon that will last an incredible 17 hours. With such a comparison, it is easy to see just how far engineering has come.
However, this did not suddenly occur as part of a magician’s parlour trick. Years of hard work, dedication and research by incredible engineers has made such a fear happen. Yet, unfortunately very few people would be able to name some of the engineers behind the amazing advances that have shaped our modern lives.
So, who are some the most important engineers that you may never have heard of?
One of the most influential women in engineering, Margaret Heafield Hamilton (born August 17, 1936) is an American engineer and computer scientist. She is best known – or unknown in the case of this blog – for developing the on-board flight software that helped the Apollo space program lift off. Over a long career, she also became the CEO of her own company, Hamilton Technologies, Inc., published over one hundred engineering papers and has helped develop numerous computer programs that have aided the aerospace industry.
Hamilton has recently been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by U.S. President Barack Obama, celebrating her work developing the on-board flight software for the NASA Apollo Moon missions. An amazing award for such an incredible accomplishment!
One of the most important inventions of the twentieth century is undoubtedly computer-aided design software (CAD/CAM); however, the man behind the software is practically unknown.
Walter Braithwaite was born in Jamaica but moved abroad to pursue an engineering degree. This, in turn, led to him to a long and fruitful career with Boeing. This career involved him taking charge of teams that were responsible for many important advancements in aero technology. But, the most important was certainly the invention of CAD. It has meant that aeroplanes and other products could be designed entirely on a computer – revolutionising the way engineering works. So, thank Mr Braithwaite for not having to use a pen and paper to design spacecraft!
However, the unknown brilliance in engineering is not only limited to aerospace. Did you ever wonder where the word diesel came from? Well, it was named after the inventor of the diesel engine: Rudolf Diesel. A German inventor and engineer, he is most famous for the invention of the engine and his mysterious death at sea.
Diesel is not remembered, perhaps, because many agree that the engine in its final form was a culmination of hundreds of years of ideas. He simply brought them all together in the final product, according to many historians. By the turn of the twentieth century Diesel’s version of the engine was used to power pipelines, automobiles, boats, factories, water and power plants. For this reason, the engine gained his name whilst also simultaneously leaving him somewhat unknown.
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