In April, we posted an online slideshow called "18 People You Didn’t Know Were Engineers." Within hours of its publication, readers began to suggest names of other luminaries -- astronauts, politicians, athletes, and actors -- who were educated or had worked as engineers.
Some surprised us. Could anyone have predicted, for example, that at least four inductees in the Pro Football Hall of Fame had been educated as engineers? Or that a man who made films about blood-sucking vampires and flesh-eating cockroaches could have been educated as an electrical engineer? (He lasted only four days in his only engineering job.)
Predictably, there were also a few suggestions that turned out to be more folklore than truth. For example, we could find no information to support the claims that actor Donald Sutherland, musician Herbie Hancock, or singer/songwriter Neil Young had ever received degrees in engineering or worked as engineers, although numerous websites suggested it.
So once again, we’ve collected photos of individuals, most of whom earned engineering degrees and then found fame elsewhere. Following are the latest 18 people you didn’t know were engineers. Click on the photo to start the slideshow.
Lonnie Johnson holds a master’s degree in nuclear engineering from Tuskegee University, has earned 80 patents, and has launched two thin film battery companies, but he is best known for his invention of the SuperSoaker Water Gun. Johnson originally made the toy using a water bottle, plastic tubing, and duct tape, but it ended up reaching more than a billion dollars in sales. (Source: Wikipedia)
My daughter went to high school with a NFL and Arena Football League place kicker named Todd France. He went to Univ. of Toledo and majored in Mechanical Engineering. Holds records for his postiion at UT and played for several NFL teams as well as many years with the Philadelphia Soul of the AFL. He scored a touchdown against Marshall with a trick play "Nerd up the middle" (that was the team's name for it) where they set up for a field goal and he took a handoff from the holder and ran it in. He served in the Peace Corp but don't know what has happened with him since.
Obama should be on the list for engineering the downfall of our once great nation. He has engineered a debt so massive our great grandchildren will still be paying on the interest. He engineered the downfall do the best medical system in the planet. He engineered the destruction of countless innocent lives as his expertise in civil engineering designed the downfall of stable governments under the guise of liberation (he's not alone as Clinton, Bush, Bush lead the way).
Yes, he should be on the list, as well...
I always took Nielsen for a consumer research-oriented individual. It's interesting to know about his academic history. But the one that really shocked me was Rowan Atkinson, perhaps because of his "Mr. Bean" personification.
Great work, Charles, highlighting the social impact of an engineering education. As you've done so much research into who is, or isn't, an engineer, could you focus on governments. It fascinates me that most of the Chinese ruling committee are engineers (mostly civil engineers) and, while we might disagree with a lot of their ideology, we have to admire the way they've been able to ditch those aspects of their ideology that got in the way of economic growth, and have consistently produced the fastest growing economy in the world. Most other countries seem to be run by lawyers, with a good few teachers (in Ireland anyway), doctors, accountants and real estate agents. It would be really interesting to see the contributions (positive and negative) that engineers make when they are in government.
Another angle that we'd probably rather not publicise is that there is a disproportionate number of engineers among suicide bombers.
The question of whether engineers could have foreseen the shortcut maintenance procedures that led to the crash of American Airlines Flight 191 in 1979 will probably linger for as long as there is an engineering profession.
More than 35 years later, the post-mortem on one of the country’s worst engineering disasters appears to be simple. A contractor asked for a change in an original design. The change was approved by engineers, later resulting in a mammoth structural collapse that killed 114 people and injured 216 more.
If you’re an embedded systems engineer whose analog capabilities are getting a little bit rusty, then you’ll want to take note of an upcoming Design News Continuing Education Center class, “Analog Design for the Digital World,” running Monday, Nov. 17 through Friday, Nov. 21.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.