Scotland’s Engineering Pioneers
Name me a famous engineer….. now name me one from or connected to Scotland… Easy?
I would hope so, although engineers in general don’t get the kudos in the UK that they do in other countries. All too many non-engineers have this image of an engineer that more closely resembles a motor mechanic than a professional engineer designing structures, machines and products that fill our modern world. In an effort to improve the visibility and status of engineers and engineering in the minds of the general public, the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland launched their Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame in 2011. In the first year the initial 7 inductees into the Hall of fame were all engineers of the past, the really well known names and one or two surprises.
I myself had never heard of Andrew Meikle who revolutionised the production of grain by inventing the threshing machine:
So which ‘famous engineers’ came to your mind? George Stephenson perhaps? James Watt? Old, dead guys are perhaps too easy.
Now can you name me a significant living engineer in Scotland? I bet you found that a bit harder and certainly the impact of anyone’s work isn’t always obvious within their lifetimes. Some people become famous too late to enjoy it. However in 2012 we named a living engineer: Douglas Anderson, who is a product design engineer renowned for development of the world’s first ultra-wide field retinal imaging system. He has used his place in the Hall of Fame as a great way to go into schools and enthuse the younger generation about engineering.
Now, here’s a real challenge – can you name ANY female engineers from any field of engineering, in any period past or present and from any country in the world?
Yes? Well done – you must be exceptionally well informed, as most people cannot name a single one. So it was great to be able to nominate and see inducted into the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame, our first female inductee: Dorothee Pullinger. I am not going to tell you any more about her amazing life and work – you can go and read about it here: http://www.engineeringhalloffame.org/profile-pullinger.html and then browse through all the other inductees, and perhaps even suggest your own nominees: http://www.engineeringhalloffame.org/listing-1.html
Dr Nina Baker is a former engineer, now researching the history of women in engineering, as well as volunteering with a number of projects promoting engineering, including the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame and the STEM Ambassadors scheme.