50 Interesting Facts about Engineers

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26High Rhine Bridge

Engineers building a bridge (High Rhine Bridge) between Germany and Switzerland found that when the two halves met their elevations differed by 54 cm. Germany bases sea level on the North Sea, and Switzerland by the Mediterranean; someone messed up the correction, doubling it instead of canceling it out.


27. A retired electrical engineer named Bruce Campbell had an old Boeing 727 delivered to the woods near Portland, Oregon and converted it into his home where he lives full time.


28. In 1969, the Army Corps of Engineers accomplished an awesome feat. They turned off Niagara Falls. They did it to clean up the area and check for structural integrity.


29. In 1953, a 20-year old Royal Air Force engineer named Ronald Maddison died while acting as a guinea pig for sarin gas testing at Porton Down, England. He was offered 15 shillings for the experiment, which he planned on using to buy an engagement ring for his girlfriend.


30. An Argentinian engineer named Juan Pedro Baigorri Velar, in the 1930's apparently created a “rainmaking machine”. He made it rain in several places and then disappeared without a trace.


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31Jinichi Kawakami

A former engineer in Japan claims to be the only heir to authentic ninjutsu. In his 60s, Jinichi Kawakami decided he will not appoint anyone as the next ninja grandmaster, saying: "We now have guns, the internet, and much better medicines, so the art of ninjutsu has no place in the modern age."


32. A Volvo engineer named Niels Bohlin invented the three-point seatbelt, but Volvo gave away the patent to other manufacturers because it had more value as a free life-saving tool.


33. In 1945, a radar engineer named Percy Spencer was working at Raytheon. He stepped in front of a magnetron, a device that powers radars. He noticed a chocolate bar in his pocket had melted. Later that year, he filed a patent for the first microwave oven.


34. A NASA engineer named Jack Garman memorized all the possible error codes of Apollo 11 and saved the mission from being aborted. 


35. A Russian Jewish engineer named Jakow Trachtenberg developed a system of rapid mental calculation (The Trachtenberg system) while being held in a Nazi concentration camp in order to keep his mind occupied.


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36Dave Whitlock

A chemical engineer named Dave Whitlock hasn’t bathed in more than 12 years. Instead, the MIT graduate sprays himself with live bacteria and is working with AOBiome, a company that uses naturally occurring bacteria in skin-care products to clean and eliminate odor and sweat.


37. In 1902, a Romanian Engineer named Traian Vuia designed his first flying machine, then presented his plan to the Académie des Sciences in Paris in 1903, but was rejected with the comment: "The problem of flight with a machine which weighs more than air can not be solved and it is only a dream."


38. A group of engineering students from Purdue University reported that its licking machine, modeled after a human tongue, took an average of 364 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.


39. An MIT engineer named Dennis Klatt synthesized Stephen Hawking's 'voice'. Hawking subsequently requested to keep that voice throughout every upgrade of his system.


40. Noshir Gowadia, a design engineer of the B-2 stealth bomber was convicted in 2011 of using classified information to assist the People's Republic of China. He was sentenced to 32 years and is at the supermax prison known as the "Alcatraz of the Rockies" ADX Florence.


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41Matt Bowtell

An engineer named Matt Bowtell makes prosthetic limbs for people for free using his 3D printer.


42. A NASA engineer named Jerry Woodfill who devised the scheme to rewire the batteries in the Apollo 13 module got the idea from a movie he had seen the day of the spacecraft accident. In that movie three astronauts are stranded in space in a crippled spacecraft.


43. A Swiss-American engineer named Othmar Ammann was the lead engineer of more than half of NYC crossings including the George Washington Bridge and the Lincoln Tunnel. His designs were inexpensive and elegant allowing the projects to be completed on time and under budget.


44. The chief engineer of the 2nd generation Toyota Sienna, Yuji Yokoya, and his family drove the 1st generation one over 53,000 miles throughout North America to find out its weaknesses.


45. Anatoly Dyatlov, the deputy chief engineer of the Chernobyl Power Plant was responsible for the nuclear disaster in 1986. Before this disaster, he was part of another nuclear accident while installing reactors into submarines and suffered mild radiation sickness.


46Tommy Flowers

Tommy Flowers was an English engineer with the British Post Office. He built one of the first computers ever to break the cipher used by the German High Command. One of the decrypted messages about troop movements in Normandy was instrumental in Eisenhower giving the green light for the D-Day invasion.


47. Jet Propulsion Laboratory Engineers from NASA sent two probes to Mars called MarCO A and MarCO B that are nicknamed "WALL-E" and "EVE" based off of the Disney movie Wall-E. Both probes were used to help in the landing of Insight by providing real-time communication back on Earth.


48. A software engineer named Ken Kocienda designed software-assisted typing for the first iPhone keyboard that all phones now use. After typing letters such as T other letters commonly used after T such as H (the, that) look the same on-screen but have a larger hitbox making it easier to click.


49. The slinky was invented by accident when a Mechanical Engineer named Richard James was working to devise springs that could keep sensitive ship equipment steady at sea. After accidentally knocking some samples off a shelf, he watched in amazement as they gracefully “walked” down instead of falling.


50. African-American inventor Lonnie Johnson, a former NASA, and U.S. Air Force engineer, invented and patented the Super Soaker. He used his fortune to start his own company, which is currently developing a high-efficiency heat engine for solar power generation.

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