• Question: If you had to invite three historical engineers to lunch who would they be?

    Asked by TheToast25 to Yip, Jarrod, Iona, Eloise on 21 Jun 2016.
    • Photo: Iona Strawson

      Iona Strawson answered on 21 Jun 2016:

      Oooh, this is a good question!

      Ada Lovelace – she was the first computer programmer really. She was the daughter of Lord Byron and worked with Charles Babbage. He came up with the idea of computers about 200 years before they actually appeared. Ada Lovelace worked with him on this – unfortunately they didn’t try building anything. Imagine if we could have had computers 200 years earlier where we would be now!

      Archimedes – he was an ancient greek, he did maths, science, engineering, the lot! He invented the archimedes screw which uses uses a helical blade inside a cylinder to draw water upwards and transport it to fields, etc. I think he’d be really interesting to talk to.

      I’m struggling to think of just one more – Thomas Edison, Tilly Schilling, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Amy Johnson. Ok I’m going to go with…..

      Amy Johnson – She was a pilot in the second world war. The first pilot to fly solo to Australia. She went missing during a flight over the south coast during the war. Neither she, nor the plane have ever been found. There are lots of theories on what happened. She was a pioneer at the time and had to learn for herself ho two maintain the plane on the long flights.

      Who would you choose?

    • Photo: Man Hang Yip

      Man Hang Yip answered on 22 Jun 2016:

      Love your question 🙂
      1) Alexander Bell – who has invented the phone and hopefully he would not be playing with his phone all the time over lunch!
      2) Lillian Gilbreth – an industrial engineer, who did a lot of work in “standard work”
      3) Zhan Tian-You – a civil engineer who constructed the first railway in China.

    • Photo: Jarrod Hart

      Jarrod Hart answered on 22 Jun 2016:

      What a question!! It is too hard, i will never make up my mind, I will very quickly think of better names – but here are three I would certainly love to meet…

      Leonardo Da Vinci – the daddy! This guy not only painted the Mona Lisa, but also invented helicopters, tanks, armoured ships, submarines and much much more. He also cut up bodies to see how they worked inside, as a bonus.

      Isaac Newton – OK, maybe he’s a scientist, but I will give him a special license because he invented machines in order to do stuff.

      – He used prisms to split light and showed that white was not a colour, but a mixture of all the colours…
      – He invented a much better telescope… (using a concave mirror)
      – He invented calculus (you can thank him later, when you try to understand it). This has allowed engineers to calculate things like acceleration, the motions of flying balls, the best design for a bridge and loads of other things engineers do…
      – He also invented (discovered) the laws of motion, and which allow us to calculate forces and energies. Without that, we’d still be in the dark ages.

      On the other hand, Newton was, by all reports, a really nasty and irritating man, so maybe I should boot him in favour of…

      Fritz Haber!

      He invented a way to make fertilizer out of thin air – this invention practically doubled the world’s agricultural output and prevented several severe famines… pretty good hey?

      What, he was a Nazi? Oh dear, scrap that idea, let’s stick with Newton.

      OK, now what about William Thomson, aka Lord Kelvin?

      He was one of the main people behind perhaps the most important engineering laws: the laws of ‘thermodynamics’.

      Thermo equals ‘heat’ or ‘energy’ and dynamics means ‘movement’. So thermodynamics is the flow of energy.

      The most important rule is that energy cannot be made or destroyed, only ‘transformed’.

      We wouldn’t be able to engineer much without good old Lord Kelvin!