Great Engineers

Engineers have always made a difference. They are the thinkers and innovators that shape our world. Find out here about some of the greatest engineers of all time.

Ove Arup (1895 - 1988)
Sir Ove Nyquist Arup is generally considered one of the foremost engineers of the twentieth century. Groundbreaking use of precast concrete, structural glue and computer analysis helped to make Arup's reputation, and that of his firm, Arup. The multi-disciplinary company provided engineering, architectural, and other services for the built environment.
Notible projects included the The Sydney Opera House, which Arup worked on from 1957 to 1973. Before his death Arup received a Knighthood from both the British and Danish monarchy along with a plethora of industry commendations.

Sir John Fleetwood Baker (1901-1985)
Sir John Fleetwood Baker was one of the first winners of the Institution's Gold Medal award. During the 1930’s Baker carried out tests on buildings which brought a revelation that led to Baker’s life work on the development of the plastic theory of design.
During the Second World War, Baker was appointed Scientific Adviser to the Ministry of Home Security, focussing on reducing the impact of bombing of buildings, especially industrial sites and factories. For residential homes without a garden, Baker invented an indoor air raid Morrison Shelter, named after the Home Secretary, Herbert Morrison MP.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806 - 1859)
Considered the father of modern engineering, Brunel was the son of another eminent engineer, Marc Isambard Brunel. I K Brunel was elected to the Royal Society in 1830, when he was just 24. In 1833 he became chief engineer for the Great Western Railway.
As well as bridges, lighthouses and tunnels, Brunel designed the famous steamships SS Great Western (1837), SS Great Britain (1845) and SS Great Eastern (1858). Each ship was the largest in the world at the time of its launch.

Marc Brunel
French-born Marc Brunel worked on an enormous number of ingenious projects, including a suspension bridge, a series of (ultimately impracticable) compressed air engines, and the first double-acting marine steam engine. His last and greatest work, the construction of the Thames Tunnel was completed in 1843.

Gustav Eiffel (1832 - 1923)
A talented French engineer, Eiffel was most famous for his bridges and viaducts. Eiffel liked to work with new technology, especially wrought iron, designing the Eiffel Tower using this material. Another notable design was the Statue of Liberty, a gift from the people of France to the people of New York.

Oscar Faber (1886-1956)
Oscar Faber was the son of the Danish Commissioner of Agriculture in London. From 1911 onwards, Faber was influential in the development of the use of reinforced concrete in the UK, at a time when many engineers were distrustful of the material. Faber pioneered simple deflection load tests, and from them developed his theory of ‘Plastic yield in concrete’, and the resistance of reinforced concrete beams to shear.
Key projects include the bank of England, the House of Commons, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning, as well as Africa House and India House in London, and many factories. In 1992 he co-authored the book Reinforced Concrete Design with P.G.Bowie – a text which was to become a standard work. Oscar Faber was awarded a CBE in 1951 for his work on the house of commons.

Tony Hunt (1932 - present day)
Tony Hunt is one of Britain’s most highly regarded structural engineers. His career, spanning six decades, has involved working with a number of prominent architects and writing many authoritative books.
Hunt has wide experience in building structures of all types and materials but his speciality is in sophisticated steelwork, working closely with most of the leading architects in the UK and also in France. He is first and foremost a designer and is actively involved in the design development of projects. He lectures regularly in the UK, Europe, USA and Canada, acts as jury member for competitions and is a regular book reviewer.
His work has included a number of award winning structures including the Schlumberger Research Facility, Cambridge; Waterloo International Station, London and The Eden Project, Cornwall.

Fazlur Khan (1929 – 1982)
Khan was regarded as the Einstein of structural engineering, epitomising both structural engineering achievement and creative collaborative effort between engineer and architect. Khan's central innovation in skyscraper design and construction was the idea of the tube and bundled tube structural systems for tall buildings, and x-bracing. These innovations reduced loads, allowing skyscrapers such as the Sears tower in Chicago to be built.
Apart from many high rise buildings, Khan planned and designed the Hajj Terminal at the International Airport Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the U.S. Airforce Academy and The United Airlines Building complex.
Throughout his career Khan was presented with many honours, including the Oscar Faber medal from the Institution in 1973.

Guy Maunsell (1884-1961)
Guy Maunsell was the British civil engineer responsible for the design of the acclaimed World War II naval sea forts and army forts used in the defence of the UK's Thames and Mersey estuaries. Maunsell is best known for his innovative, practical maritime engineering which included the army seaforts. His view was always that the interests of the client would be best served by an integrated approach to design and construction.
In 1955 he founded the UK firm of Maunsell & Partners, a practice famed for its pioneering work using pre-stressed concrete in major bridges. The most famous example is the Hammersmith Flyover, completed in 1961, which made revolutionary use of pre stressed concrete as a construction method.

Peter Rice (1935 - 1992)
Peter Rice was an Irish structural engineer who worked on a number of high profile projects including the Centre Pompidou, the Sydney Opera House, Lloyd's of London, the Louvre Pyramid, the Mound Stand at Lord's Cricket Ground, Kansai International Airport and Stansted Airport.
Rice was known for his sympathetic attitude to design, along with a strategic approach, having a cool head and managing to realise ambitious artistic designs in concrete.

Felix Samuely (1902 – 1959)
Born in Germany in 1902, Felix Samuely first came to England in 1933. He is known as the engineer who carried out the structural analysis of the ramps, for the famous Berthold Lubetkin Penguin Pool at London Zoo, and for designing the first all-welded steel structure in the UK – the De la Warr Pavilion, Bexhill.
Before the Second World War, Samuely pioneered welded tubular steel construction. Known during the fifties as the architects’ engineer, Samuely engineered the famous Skylon, the iconic symbol of the 1950 Festival of Britain. He pioneered space structures and folded slab construction in concrete, steel and timber.

Robert Stephenson (1803 - 1859)
Robert Stephenson’s 'Rocket' placed the firm of Robert Stephenson & Co at the forefront of steam locomotive design. Robert Stephenson became Chief Engineer of the London and Birmingham Railway in 1833. During the 1840s he was consultant engineer on a great many railway schemes.
Stephenson was famed for the many bridges he designed, including the High Level Bridge in Newcastle upon Tyne (1849), the Britannia Tubular Bridge over the Menai Straits in Wales (1850) and the Royal Border Bridge at Berwick upon Tweed (1850).

Thomas Telford (1757 - 1834)
In 1787 Telford became surveyor of public works for Shropshire. In 1790 Telford built a bridge over the River Severn at Montford, followed by a canal to link the ironworks and collieries of Wrexham with Chester and Shrewsbury. This involved building the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, over the River Dee using a new method of construction consisting of troughs made from cast-iron plates and fixed in masonry.
After the completion of the Ellesmere Canal Telford moved back to Scotland to build the Caledonian Canal. Other works include the Menai Suspension Bridge (1819-1826), St Katherine's Docks (1824-1828) in London and more than 1,000 miles of road, including the main road between London and Holyhead.

Source: The Institution of Structural Engineers