EMINENT ENGINEERS THROUGHOUT HISTORY
LEONARDO DA VINCI
Who's the most outstanding engineer of all time? That's an open question with no right or wrong answer, only opinions, theories and opportunities for debate. Thankfully, plenty of engineers had gone before us and paved the path to a modern world that grants us access to so many inventions - inventions that make our lives easier. So whether you agree with the list of the most outstanding engineers below or not, it will at least give you some food for thought.
Although the modern engineering industry owes gratitude to hundreds of innovators over time, those listed have to be the most influential engineers throughout history.
Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519)
Leonardo Da Vinci was years ahead of his time.
Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian polymath of the High Renaissance who was active as a painter, draughtsman, engineer, scientist, theorist, sculptor and architect.
While his fame initially rested on his achievements as a painter, he also became known for his notebooks. He made drawings and notes on various subjects, including anatomy, astronomy, botany, cartography, painting, and palaeontology. Leonardo's genius epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal, and his collective works contribute to later generations of artists matched only by his younger contemporary, Michelangelo.
Born out of wedlock to a successful notary and a lower-class woman in, or near, Vinci, he was educated in Florence by the renowned Italian painter and sculptor Andrea del Verrocchio. He began his career in the city but then spent much time in the service of Ludovico Sforza in Milan. Later, he worked in Florence and Milan again and briefly in Rome, attracting many imitators and students.
Finally, upon the invitation of Francis I, he spent his last three years in France, where he died in 1519. Since his death, there has not been a time where his achievements, diverse interests, personal life, and empirical thinking have failed to incite curiosity and admiration, making him a frequent namesake and subject in culture.
Leonardo is among the greatest painters in the history of art and the founder of the High Renaissance.
Despite having many lost works and less than 25 attributed significant works— including numerous unfinished works—he created some of the most influential paintings in Western art.
The Mona Lisa's magnum opus is his best-known work and is the world's most famous painting. In addition, the Last Supper is the most reproduced religious painting of all time.
Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man drawing is a cultural icon. In 2017, Salvator Mundi, attributed in whole or part to Leonardo, was sold at auction for US$450.3 million, setting a new record for the most expensive painting ever sold at public auction.
Revered for his technological ingenuity, he conceptualized flying machines, a type of armoured fighting vehicle, concentrated solar power, an adding device, and the double hull. But, unfortunately, few of his designs were feasible during his lifetime, as the modern scientific approaches to metallurgy and engineering were only in their infancy during the Renaissance.
However, some of his more minor inventions entered the world of manufacturing unheralded, such as an automated bobbin winder and the machine for testing the tensile strength of wire. In addition, he made substantial discoveries in anatomy, civil engineering, hydrodynamics, geology, optics, and tribology. Still, he did not publish his findings, and they had little to no direct influence on subsequent science.