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Armstrong, Edwin Howard (18 December 1890–31 January 1954), electrical engineer and inventor, was born in New York City, the son of John Armstrong, a publisher, and Emily Smith, a teacher. Armstrong attended public schools in New York City and in Yonkers, New York, where the family moved in 1900. Fascinated by machinery, he enjoyed repairing broken toys for friends and later learned to repair automobiles. In his teens he was impressed by ...

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Carrier, Willis Haviland (26 November 1876–07 October 1950), inventor, was born in Angola, New York, the son of Duane Williams Carrier, a dairy and fruit farmer, and Elizabeth Haviland, a schoolteacher. From an early age, Carrier showed an interest and ability in mechanics. Graduating in 1893 from Buffalo’s Central High School, he was eager to pursue an engineering course at Cornell University, but the onset of a nationwide depression forced him to spend almost four years teaching at a local school....

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Harold E. Edgerton Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103829).

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Edgerton, Harold Eugene (06 April 1903–04 January 1990), electrical engineer and photographer, was born in Fremont, Nebraska, the son of Frank E. Edgerton, a lawyer, and Mary Coe. Edgerton received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Nebraska in 1925 and a doctorate of science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1931. He married Esther May Garrett in 1928; they had three children. Most of Edgerton’s career centered on his invention, development, and application of the stroboscopic flash....

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Engelbart, Douglas Carl (30 Jan. 1925–2 July 2013), engineer and inventor, was born in Portland, Oregon, the middle son of Carl Louis Engelbart and Gladys Charlotte Amelia Munson Engelbart. His father, an electrical engineer, was born in Spokane, Washington, and was of German descent. His mother also born in the state of Washington, was of Swedish and Norwegian descent. A gifted student, Douglas Engelbart graduated from Franklin High School in Portland in ...

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Ferris, George Washington Gale, Jr. (14 February 1859–22 November 1896), civil engineer and builder of the Ferris Wheel, was born in Galesburg, Illinois, the son of George Washington Gale Ferris and Martha Edgerton Hyde Ferris, farmers. Ferris's grandfather Silvanus Ferris, along with Reverend ...

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Frasch, Herman (25 December 1851–01 May 1914), chemist, chemical engineer, and inventor, was born in Gaildorf, Wuerttemberg, Germany, the son of Johannes Frasch, a prosperous pharmacist and burgomaster of the town; his mother’s name is not recorded. Frasch was educated at the Gymnasium and then apprenticed to a pharmacist but decided to come to the United States at age seventeen. He settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he became an assistant in the laboratory of Professor ...

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Robert Fulton. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102509).

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Fulton, Robert (14 November 1765–23 February 1815), artist, engineer, and entrepreneur, was born on a farm in Little Britain (later Fulton) Township, south of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the son of Robert Fulton, a Scotch-Irish tailor and tradesman, and Mary Smith. Fulton’s father had left the prosperous market town of Lancaster to establish his family on the land, but like so many others with the same goal, he failed. The farm and the dwelling were sold at sheriff’s sale in 1772, and he took his family back to Lancaster. He died two years later....

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Ginsburg, Charles Paulson (27 July 1920–09 April 1992), inventor and electrical engineer, was born and raised in San Francisco, the son of a Russian Jewish father who was a physician specializing in radiology and an American-born mother. Diagnosed with juvenile diabetes in 1924, just two years after the discovery of insulin changed the disease from a fatal to a treatable condition, he was among the first to survive diabetes to advanced age through daily self-administered insulin injections. Ginsburg won admission to Lowell High School, a special public school for academically gifted students, graduating in 1937. That same year he enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, intending to become a physician, but after two years of premedical studies his intellectual curiosity led him in other directions. In 1939 he transferred to the University of California, Davis, to study genetics and animal husbandry. But in 1940, lacking funds, he quit school and moved to San Jose, finding work as a sound technician, first for a recording company and then a broadcasting company. In 1942 he resumed his education as a part-time student at San Jose State College (now San Jose State University), pursuing a degree in engineering and mathematics. Excused from military service because of his insulin dependence, Ginsburg was in demand as a radio engineer during World War II....

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Haupt, Herman (26 March 1817–14 December 1905), railway engineer, inventor, author, and administrator, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Jacob Haupt, a businessman of modest attainments, and Anna Margaretta Wiall, the proprietor of a small dry goods store. Herman attended several private schools in Philadelphia, but in 1827 his father, suffering from poor health, gave up the grocery store he then owned and moved to Woodville, New Jersey. Jacob Haupt died the next year, leaving his widow in straitened circumstances; Herman, the eldest of six children, was only eleven years of age. Two years later Herman Haupt’s congressman, John B. Sterigere, offered to help the boy gain admission to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He received a presidential appointment in 1830, but his entry was deferred for a year because of his youth. Unhappy with the strict upbringing he had received from his father, he was very uncertain about subjecting himself to the hard discipline of the academy, but his mother prevailed....

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Hewitt, Peter Cooper (05 March 1861–25 August 1921), inventor, mechanical and electrical engineer, and manufacturer, was born in New York City, the son of Abram Stevens Hewitt, an iron manufacturer, merchant, and politician, and Sarah Amelia Cooper. Hewitt attended Stevens Institute of Technology at Hoboken, New Jersey, and Columbia University School of Mines in New York City. The fortune amassed by his father and his maternal grandfather, Peter Cooper, enabled him to pursue his own interests. As a result, he devoted much of his adult life to scientific investigation and experimentation, for which he received numerous patents. An orderly and determined individual, his strict work regimen was to attend to business interests in the morning while his afternoons and evenings were devoted to experimentation and investigations in his laboratory, located in the tower of the old Madison Square Garden. This intense schedule continued for three-quarters of the year and was followed by three months totally devoid of work and devoted to relaxation, travel, and sports....

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Hicks, Beatrice Alice (2 Jan. 1919–21 Oct. 1979), engineer, inventor, and business executive, was born Beatrice Alice Hickstein to Florence Benedict Neben and William Lux Hickstein in Orange, New Jersey. She often recounted that she was drawn to the field of engineering at the age of thirteen when her father, a chemical engineer, took her to see the Empire State Building and the George Washington Bridge. Amazed by the structures, she inquired who built them, and upon learning they were designed by engineers, she decided that she wanted to become one as well. As a student at Orange High School, she enjoyed mathematics, physics, chemistry, and mechanical drawing. Her academic interests and professional aspirations, however, received little support from her family, friends, and teachers. Her parents, concerned with having to finance special schooling for Beatrice’s younger sister, Margaret, who was born with an intellectual disability, encouraged her to study stenography instead. Meanwhile, she encountered outright opposition from her classmates and some of her teachers, who made a point of telling her that engineering—where women made up less than one percent of the profession—was not a suitable field for female students....

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Hodgkinson, Francis (16 June 1867–04 November 1949), mechanical engineer and inventor, was born in London, England, the son of Francis Otter Hodgkinson and Margaret Thompson, occupations unknown. Hodgkinson attended the Royal Naval School, New Cross, in his youth. His practical engineering training began in 1882 with a machinist’s apprenticeship at Clayton & Shuttleworth, an agricultural engineering firm that produced farm equipment and steam engines. In addition, Hodgkinson continued to pursue a formal education by taking night courses at the Department of Science and Art at New Kensington in London and at the Rutherford College of Durham University....

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Houdry, Eugene Jules (18 April 1892–18 July 1962), chemical engineer, was born in Domont, France, the son of Jules Houdry, a steel-mill owner, and Émilie Thaïs Julie Lemaire. He studied mechanical engineering at the École des Arts et Métiers in Paris and in 1911 received his degree, as well as a gold medal from the French government for graduating first in his class. He then went to work with his father as a junior partner and engineer and developed a keen interest in the fledgling sport of automobile racing. Drafted into the French army at the beginning of World War I and assigned to the tank corps, Houdry rose to the rank of lieutenant; in 1917 he was badly wounded while repairing a damaged tank in the middle of a battle. He received the croix de guerre for bravery under fire and was made a chevalier in the Legion of Honor....

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Jack Kilby with his 1958 invention, the world's first integrated circuit, at the Science Exposition in Tsukuba, Japan, 1985. Photograph by I. Inoue. Associated Press

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Kilby, Jack St. Clair (08 November 1923–20 June 2005), Nobel Prize-winning inventor of the microchip, Nobel Prize–winning inventor of the microchip, was born in Jefferson City, Missouri, the son of Hubert Kilby, an electrical engineer, and Vina Freitag. When Jack was four years old the family moved to Salina, Kansas, where his father worked for the Kansas Power Company. By sixth grade the family relocated again to Great Bend, Kansas, on the Arkansas River, where his father became president of Kansas Power, overseeing power distribution in the western third of the state. Jack spent his summers cleaning out oil tanks and steam generators. After an ice storm in April 1938 his father used a ham radio to keep up with the company's distant customers. Amateur radio appealed to Jack and sparked an interest in electronics. He became a Depression-era ham radio operator at call letters W9GTY....

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Kingsbury, Albert (23 December 1862–28 July 1943), inventor, mechanical engineer, and professor of engineering, was born at Goose Lake near Morris, Illinois, the son of Lester Wayne Kingsbury, the superintendent of a stoneware factory, and Eliza Emeline Fosdick. After graduating from high school in 1880, Kingsbury acquired his advanced education in fits and starts. He studied one year at Buchtel College (later University of Akron) in Ohio in the Latin-scientific course but dropped out in 1881 and took a job as a machinist’s apprentice with the Turner, Vaughn and Taylor Company of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. In September 1884 Kingsbury reentered school at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, where he studied mechanical engineering. At the end of his sophomore year, because of a lack of funds, he again dropped out of school. Later in 1886, at the arrangement of Professor S. W. Robinson of Ohio State University, he went to work at the Carver Cotton Gin Company, East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. He then became a machinist at Warner and Swasey Company in Cleveland, Ohio. In the fall of 1887 Kingsbury reentered school at Sibley College, Cornell University. While at Cornell he studied under ...

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Latimer, Lewis Howard (04 September 1848–11 December 1928), engineer and inventor, was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, the son of George W. Latimer, a barber, and Rebecca Smith, both former slaves who escaped from Norfolk, Virginia, on 4 October 1842. When not attending Phillips Grammar School in Boston, Lewis spent much of his youth working in his father’s barber shop, as a paperhanger, and selling the abolitionist newspaper ...

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Nordberg, Bruno Victor (11 April 1857–30 October 1924), mechanical engineer, and inventor, was born in Björneborg, Finland, the son of Carl Victor Nordberg, a shipbuilder, and Dores Hinze. He became acquainted with mechanical processes at home. His father died while Nordberg was attending a Finnish preparatory school and was unable to influence his son’s original career choice....