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Who are the most influential thinkers in world?

Identify leaders in your chosen discipline, research top professors in your area of study, and search for schools based on the luminaries who most inspire you!

Note: These rankings change dynamically as our artificial intelligence system learns new things and incorporates new publications and citations. Academics are constantly doing research and publishing new insights, with the result that our measure of influence is subject to continual adjustments. For quality assurance reasons, however, we forgo real-time changes, with most public updates happening only quarterly. In any case, don’t be surprised to see our rankings change over time.

Methodology: How and Why We Rank by Influence …

Gender designations here are based off data sourced from Wikidata.

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List of the most influential people in Engineering, for the years 1800 – 2020

James Clerk Maxwell
# 1
James Clerk Maxwell

1831 - 1879 (48 years)

#42 person's overall influence

James Clerk Maxwell was a Scottish scientist in the field of mathematical physics. His most notable achievement was to formulate the classical theory of electromagnetic radiation, bringing together for the first time electricity, magnetism, and light as different manifestations of the same phenomenon. Maxwell's equations for electromagnetism have been called the "second great unification in physics" after the first one realised by Isaac Newton.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel
# 2
Isambard Kingdom Brunel

1806 - 1859 (53 years)

#395 person's overall influence

Isambard Kingdom Brunel was an English civil engineer who is considered "one of the most ingenious and prolific figures in engineering history", "one of the 19th-century engineering giants", and "one of the greatest figures of the Industrial Revolution, [who] changed the face of the English landscape with his groundbreaking designs and ingenious constructions". Brunel built dockyards, the Great Western Railway , a series of steamships including the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship, and numerous important bridges and tunnels. His designs revolutionised public transport and moder...

Thomas Alva Edison
# 3
Thomas Alva Edison

1847 - 1931 (84 years)

#146 person's overall influence

Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor and businessman who has been described as America's greatest inventor. He developed many devices in fields such as electric power generation, mass communication, sound recording, and motion pictures. These inventions, which include the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and early versions of the electric light bulb, have had a widespread impact on the modern industrialized world. He was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of organized science and teamwork to the process of invention, working with many researchers and employees. He...

Charles Babbage
# 4
Charles Babbage

1791 - 1871 (80 years)

#294 person's overall influence

Charles Babbage was an English polymath. A mathematician, philosopher, inventor and mechanical engineer, Babbage originated the concept of a digital programmable computer.

Neil Armstrong
# 5
Neil Armstrong

1930 - 2012 (82 years)

#404 person's overall influence

Neil Alden Armstrong was an American astronaut and aeronautical engineer, and the first person to walk on the Moon. He was also a naval aviator, test pilot, and university professor.

John Bardeen
# 6
John Bardeen

1908 - 1991 (83 years)

#370 person's overall influence

John Bardeen was an American physicist. He is the only person to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics twice: first in 1956 with William Shockley and Walter Brattain for the invention of the transistor; and again in 1972 with Leon N Cooper and John Robert Schrieffer for a fundamental theory of conventional superconductivity known as the BCS theory.

Frederick Winslow Taylor
# 7
Frederick Winslow Taylor

1856 - 1915 (59 years)

#288 person's overall influence

Frederick Winslow Taylor was an American mechanical engineer who sought to improve industrial efficiency. He was one of the first management consultants. Taylor was one of the intellectual leaders of the Efficiency Movement and his ideas, broadly conceived, were highly influential in the Progressive Era . In 1911, Taylor summed up his efficiency techniques in his book The Principles of Scientific Management which, in 2001, Fellows of the Academy of Management voted the most influential management book of the twentieth century. His pioneering work in applying engineering principles to the work

Wernher von Braun
# 8
Wernher von Braun

1912 - 1977 (65 years)

#501 person's overall influence

Wernher Magnus Maximilian Freiherr von Braun was a German–born American aerospace engineer and space architect. He was the leading figure in the development of rocket technology in Nazi Germany and a pioneer of rocket and space technology in the United States.

Caroline Haslett
# 9
Caroline Haslett

1895 - 1957 (62 years)

#1332 person's overall influence

Dame Caroline Harriet Haslett, DBE, JP was an English electrical engineer, electricity industry administrator and champion of women's rights.

Heinrich Rudolf Hertz
# 10
Heinrich Rudolf Hertz

1857 - 1894 (37 years)

#363 person's overall influence

Heinrich Rudolf Hertz was a German physicist who first conclusively proved the existence of the electromagnetic waves predicted by James Clerk Maxwell's equations of electromagnetism. The unit of frequency, cycle per second, was named the "hertz" in his honor.

A. Q. Khan
# 11
A. Q. Khan

1936 - Present (85 years)

#691 person's overall influence

Abdul Qadeer Khan , known as A. Q. Khan, is a Pakistani nuclear physicist and metallurgist who is colloquially known as the "father of uranium enrichment project" for his nation's clandestine atomic bomb program.

John von Neumann
# 12
John von Neumann

1903 - 1957 (54 years)

#70 person's overall influence

John von Neumann was a Hungarian-American mathematician, physicist, computer scientist, engineer and polymath. Von Neumann was generally regarded as the foremost mathematician of his time and said to be "the last representative of the great mathematicians"; he integrated pure and applied sciences.

Dawon Kahng
# 13
Dawon Kahng

1931 - 1992 (61 years)

#386 person's overall influence

Dawon Kahng was a Korean-American electrical engineer and inventor, known for his work in solid-state electronics. He is best known for inventing the MOSFET , also known as the MOS transistor, with Mohamed Atalla in 1959. Atalla and Kahng developed both the PMOS and NMOS processes for MOSFET semiconductor device fabrication. The MOSFET is the most widely used type of transistor, and the basic element in most modern electronic equipment.

Ada Lovelace
# 14
Ada Lovelace

1815 - 1852 (37 years)

#712 person's overall influence

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace was an English mathematician and writer, chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage's proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. She is believed by some to be the first to recognise that the machine had applications beyond pure calculation, and to have published the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine. As a result, she is often regarded as the first to recognise the full potential of computers and as one of the first to be a computer programmer.

Nikola Tesla
# 15
Nikola Tesla

1856 - 1943 (87 years)

#380 person's overall influence

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 electricity supply system.

Laura Annie Willson
# 16
Laura Annie Willson

1877 - 1942 (65 years)

#1683 person's overall influence

Laura Annie Willson MBE was an English engineer and suffragette, who was twice imprisoned for her political activities. She was one of the founding members of the Women's Engineering Society and was the first female member of the Federation of House Builders.

Charles Algernon Parsons
# 17
Charles Algernon Parsons

1854 - 1931 (77 years)

#1347 person's overall influence

Hon. Sir Charles Algernon Parsons, was an Anglo-Irish engineer, best known for his invention of the compound steam turbine, and as the namesake of C. A. Parsons and Company. He worked as an engineer on dynamo and turbine design, and power generation, with great influence on the naval and electrical engineering fields. He also developed optical equipment, for searchlights and telescopes.

Robert Stephenson
# 18
Robert Stephenson

1803 - 1859 (56 years)

#1190 person's overall influence

Robert Stephenson FRS HFRSE FRSA DCL was an English railway and civil engineer. The only son of George Stephenson, the "Father of Railways", he built on the achievements of his father. Robert has been called the greatest engineer of the 19th century.

Claude Shannon
# 19
Claude Shannon

1916 - 2001 (85 years)

#312 person's overall influence

Claude Elwood Shannon was an American mathematician, electrical engineer, and cryptographer known as "the father of information theory". Shannon is noted for having founded information theory with a landmark paper, "A Mathematical Theory of Communication", which he published in 1948.

George Stephenson
# 20
George Stephenson

1715 - 1848 (133 years)

#630 person's overall influence

George Stephenson was a British civil engineer and mechanical engineer. Renowned as the "Father of Railways", Stephenson was considered by the Victorians a great example of diligent application and thirst for improvement. Self-help advocate Samuel Smiles particularly praised his achievements. His chosen rail gauge, sometimes called 'Stephenson gauge', was the basis for the standard gauge used by most of the world's railways.

Theodore von Kármán
# 21
Theodore von Kármán

1881 - 1963 (82 years)

#619 person's overall influence

Theodore von Kármán was a Hungarian-American mathematician, aerospace engineer, and physicist who was active primarily in the fields of aeronautics and astronautics. He was responsible for many key advances in aerodynamics, notably on supersonic and hypersonic airflow characterization. He is regarded as the outstanding aerodynamic theoretician of the 20th century.

Robert Noyce
# 22
Robert Noyce

1927 - 1990 (63 years)

#1028 person's overall influence

Robert Norton Noyce , nicknamed "the Mayor of Silicon Valley," was an American physicist who co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957 and Intel Corporation in 1968. He is also credited with the realization of the first monolithic integrated circuit or microchip, which fueled the personal computer revolution and gave Silicon Valley its name.

Katharine, Lady Parsons
# 23
Katharine, Lady Parsons

1859 - 1933 (74 years)

#1896 person's overall influence

The Hon. Lady Parsons was the co-founder and second President of the Women's Engineering Society , and an engineer in her own right.

Rachel Parsons
# 24
Rachel Parsons

1885 - 1956 (71 years)

#1872 person's overall influence

Rachel Mary Parsons , engineer and advocate for women's employment rights, was the founding President of the Women's Engineering Society in Britain on 23 June 1919.

Le Corbusier
# 25
Le Corbusier

1886 - 1965 (79 years)

#1422 person's overall influence

Charles-Édouard Jeanneret , known as Le Corbusier , was a Swiss-French architect, designer, painter, urban planner, writer, and one of the pioneers of what is now regarded as modern architecture. He was born in Switzerland and became a French citizen in 1930. His career spanned five decades, and he designed buildings in Europe, Japan, India, and North and South America.

Munir Ahmad Khan
# 26
Munir Ahmad Khan

1926 - 1999 (73 years)

#504 person's overall influence

Munir Ahmad Khan , , was a Pakistani nuclear reactor physicist who is credited, among others, with being the "father of the atomic bomb program" of Pakistan for their leading role in developing their nation's nuclear weapons during the successive years after the war with India in 1971.

Ludwig Prandtl
# 27
Ludwig Prandtl

1875 - 1953 (78 years)

#1260 person's overall influence

Ludwig Prandtl was a German engineer. He was a pioneer in the development of rigorous systematic mathematical analyses which he used for underlying the science of aerodynamics, which have come to form the basis of the applied science of aeronautical engineering. In the 1920s he developed the mathematical basis for the fundamental principles of subsonic aerodynamics in particular; and in general up to and including transonic velocities. His studies identified the boundary layer, thin-airfoils, and lifting-line theories. The Prandtl number was named after him.

Margaret Dorothea Rowbotham
# 28
Margaret Dorothea Rowbotham

1883 - 1978 (95 years)

#2255 person's overall influence

Margaret Dorothea Rowbotham was an engineer, a campaigner for women's employment rights and a founder member of the Women's Engineering Society.

Margaret, Lady Moir
# 29
Margaret, Lady Moir

1864 - 1942 (78 years)

#2304 person's overall influence

Margaret, Lady Moir, OBE was a Scottish lathe operator, engineer, a workers' relief organiser, an employment campaigner, and a founder member of the Women's Engineering Society . She went on to become vice-president and president of WES, and in 1934 president of the Electrical Association for Women , in which role she gave full expression to her belief that 'the dawn of the all-electric era' was at hand. She had no doubt about the importance of this development in freeing women to pursue careers outside the home:

Alexander Graham Bell
# 30
Alexander Graham Bell

1847 - 1922 (75 years)

#149 person's overall influence

Alexander Graham Bell was a Scottish-born inventor, scientist, and engineer who is credited with inventing and patenting the first practical telephone. He also co-founded the American Telephone and Telegraph Company in 1885.

Oliver Heaviside
# 31
Oliver Heaviside

1850 - 1925 (75 years)

#662 person's overall influence

Oliver Heaviside FRS was an English self-taught electrical engineer, mathematician, and physicist who adapted complex numbers to the study of electrical circuits, invented mathematical techniques for the solution of differential equations , reformulated Maxwell's field equations in terms of electric and magnetic forces and energy flux, and independently co-formulated vector analysis. His formulation of the telegrapher's equations became commercially important during his own lifetime, after their significance went unremarked for a long while, as few others were versed at the time in his novel

Thomas Telford
# 32
Thomas Telford

1757 - 1834 (77 years)

#858 person's overall influence

Thomas Telford FRS, FRSE was a Scottish civil engineer, architect and stonemason, and road, bridge and canal builder. After establishing himself as an engineer of road and canal projects in Shropshire, he designed numerous infrastructure projects in his native Scotland, as well as harbours and tunnels. Such was his reputation as a prolific designer of highways and related bridges, he was dubbed The Colossus of Roads , and, reflecting his command of all types of civil engineering in the early 19th century, he was elected as the first President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, a post he h...

John Ambrose Fleming
# 33
John Ambrose Fleming

1849 - 1945 (96 years)

#963 person's overall influence

Sir John Ambrose Fleming FRS was an English electrical engineer and physicist who invented the first thermionic valve or vacuum tube, designed the radio transmitter with which the first transatlantic radio transmission was made, and also established the right-hand rule used in physics.

Josiah Willard Gibbs
# 34
Josiah Willard Gibbs

1839 - 1903 (64 years)

#413 person's overall influence

Josiah Willard Gibbs was an American scientist who made significant theoretical contributions to physics, chemistry, and mathematics. His work on the applications of thermodynamics was instrumental in transforming physical chemistry into a rigorous inductive science. Together with James Clerk Maxwell and Ludwig Boltzmann, he created statistical mechanics , explaining the laws of thermodynamics as consequences of the statistical properties of ensembles of the possible states of a physical system composed of many particles. Gibbs also worked on the application of Maxwell's equations to problems

Frank Lloyd Wright
# 35
Frank Lloyd Wright

1867 - 1959 (92 years)

#701 person's overall influence

Frank Lloyd Wright was an American architect, designer, writer, and educator. He designed more than 1,000 structures over a creative period of 70 years. Wright believed in designing in harmony with humanity and its environment, a philosophy he called organic architecture. This philosophy was best exemplified by Fallingwater , which has been called "the best all-time work of American architecture." As a founder of organic architecture, Wright played a key role in the architectural movements of the twentieth century, influencing three generations of architects worldwide through his works.

Jack Kilby
# 36
Jack Kilby

1923 - 2005 (82 years)

#1752 person's overall influence

Jack St. Clair Kilby was an American electrical engineer who took part in the realization of the first integrated circuit while working at Texas Instruments in 1958. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics on December 10, 2000.

Martin Atalla
# 37
Martin Atalla

1924 - 2009 (85 years)

#943 person's overall influence

Mohamed Mohamed Atalla was an Egyptian engineer, physical chemist, cryptographer, inventor and entrepreneur. He was a semiconductor pioneer who made important contributions to modern electronics. His invention of the MOSFET in 1959, along with his earlier surface passivation and thermal oxidation processes, revolutionized the electronics industry. He is also known as the founder of the data security company Atalla Corporation , founded in 1972. He received the Stuart Ballantine Medal and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for his important contributions to semiconductor t...

Frank Gehry
# 38
Frank Gehry

1929 - Present (92 years)

#724 person's overall influence

Frank Owen Gehry, , FAIA is a Canadian-born American architect, residing in Los Angeles.

Enrico Fermi
# 39
Enrico Fermi

1901 - 1954 (53 years)

#168 person's overall influence

Enrico Fermi was an Italian physicist and the creator of the world's first nuclear reactor, the Chicago Pile-1. He has been called the "architect of the nuclear age" and the "architect of the atomic bomb". He was one of very few physicists to excel in both theoretical physics and experimental physics. Fermi was awarded the 1938 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on induced radioactivity by neutron bombardment and for the discovery of transuranium elements. With his colleagues, Fermi filed several patents related to the use of nuclear power, all of which were taken over by the US government....

Henrietta Vansittart
# 40
Henrietta Vansittart

1833 - 1883 (50 years)

#3021 person's overall influence

Henrietta Vansittart, née Lowe was an English engineer and inventor, awarded a patent for a screw propellor called the Lowe-Vansittart propellor. She was self-trained and she is considered to be one of the first female engineers, with her concentration being on ship propulsion.

Joseph Whitworth
# 41
Joseph Whitworth

1803 - 1887 (84 years)

#1718 person's overall influence

Sir Joseph Whitworth, 1st Baronet was an English engineer, entrepreneur, inventor and philanthropist. In 1841, he devised the British Standard Whitworth system, which created an accepted standard for screw threads. Whitworth also created the Whitworth rifle, often called the "sharpshooter" because of its accuracy and considered one of the earliest examples of a sniper rifle.

Steve Jobs
# 42
Steve Jobs

1955 - 2011 (56 years)

#245 person's overall influence

Steven Paul Jobs was an American business magnate, industrial designer, investor, and media proprietor. He was the chairman, chief executive officer , and co-founder of Apple Inc., the chairman and majority shareholder of Pixar, a member of The Walt Disney Company's board of directors following its acquisition of Pixar, and the founder, chairman, and CEO of NeXT. Jobs is widely recognized as a pioneer of the personal computer revolution of the 1970s and 1980s, along with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Federico Faggin
# 43
Federico Faggin

1941 - Present (80 years)

#1297 person's overall influence

Federico Faggin is an Italian-American physicist, engineer, inventor and entrepreneur. He is best known for designing the first commercial microprocessor, the Intel 4004. He led the 4004 project and the design group during the first five years of Intel's microprocessor effort. Faggin also created, while working at Fairchild Semiconductor in 1968, the self-aligned MOS silicon-gate technology , which made possible MOS semiconductor memory chips, CCD image sensors, and the microprocessor. After the 4004, he led development of the Intel 8008 and 8080, using his SGT methodology for random logic

George Westinghouse
# 44
George Westinghouse

1846 - 1914 (68 years)

#1170 person's overall influence

George Westinghouse Jr. was an American entrepreneur and engineer based in Pennsylvania who created the railway air brake and was a pioneer of the electrical industry, receiving his first patent at the age of 19. Westinghouse saw the potential of using alternating current for electric power distribution in the early 1880s and put all his resources into developing and marketing it. This put Westinghouse's business in direct competition with Thomas Edison, who marketed direct current for electric power distribution. In 1911 Westinghouse received the American Institute of Electrical Engineers's ...

Jiankui He
# 45
Jiankui He

1984 - Present (37 years)

#2067 person's overall influence

Jiankui He is a biophysics researcher, former professor at Southern University of Science and Technology, and the creator of the first gene-edited babies. He earned a B.S. from the University of Science and Technology of China and a Ph.D. from Rice University. While at Rice University, he began working with CRISPR, and throughout his career, has used CRISPR on human embryos, mice and monkeys.

Lorne Trottier
# 46
Lorne Trottier

1948 - Present (73 years)

#3080 person's overall influence

Lorne M. Trottier, OC is a Canadian engineer, businessman and philanthropist. He co-founded Matrox, a computer corporation that specializes in computer graphics. Trottier sits as an advisor to Canada's Ecofiscal Commission.

Henry Gantt
# 47
Henry Gantt

1861 - 1919 (58 years)

#2260 person's overall influence

Henry Laurence Gantt, A.B., M.E. was an American mechanical engineer and management consultant who is best known for his work in the development of scientific management. He created the Gantt chart in the 1910s.

Lillian Moller Gilbreth
# 48
Lillian Moller Gilbreth

1878 - 1972 (94 years)

#1131 person's overall influence

Lillian Evelyn Moller Gilbreth was an American psychologist, industrial engineer, consultant, and educator who was an early pioneer in applying psychology to time-and-motion studies. She was described in the 1940s as "a genius in the art of living." Gilbreth, one of the first female engineers to earn a Ph.D., is considered to be the first industrial/organizational psychologist. She and her husband, Frank Bunker Gilbreth, were efficiency experts who contributed to the study of industrial engineering, especially in the areas of motion study and human factors. Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on

Joseph Henry
# 49
Joseph Henry

1797 - 1878 (81 years)

#933 person's overall influence

Joseph Henry was an American scientist who served as the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. He was the secretary for the National Institute for the Promotion of Science, a precursor of the Smithsonian Institution. He was highly regarded during his lifetime. While building electromagnets, Henry discovered the electromagnetic phenomenon of self-inductance. He also discovered mutual inductance independently of Michael Faraday, though Faraday was the first to make the discovery and publish his results. Henry developed the electromagnet into a practical device. He invented a precurso

Elon Musk
# 50
Elon Musk

1971 - Present (50 years)

#450 person's overall influence

Elon Reeve Musk is a business magnate, industrial designer, engineer, and philanthropist. He is the founder, CEO, CTO and chief designer of SpaceX; early investor, CEO and product architect of Tesla, Inc.; founder of The Boring Company; co-founder of Neuralink; and co-founder and initial co-chairman of OpenAI. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2018. In 2018, he was ranked 25th on the Forbes list of The World's Most Powerful People, and was ranked joint-first on the Forbes list of the Most Innovative Leaders of 2019. As of September 2, 2020, his net worth was estimated by Forb