New Poll Votes Alexander Bell as ‘Britain’s Greatest Engineer’

Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Bell, the inventor of the telephone, has topped a poll conducted by the IET (Institution of Engineering and Technology) of the greatest British engineers of all time.

The late inventor took  41 per cent of the 2,037 votes. Bell beat the likes of George Stephenson (38 percent), inventor of the locomotive steam engine as well as the inventor of the Great Western Railway, Isambard Kingdom Brunel (37 percent).

The inventor of the colour television, John Logie Baird (23 percent) and Micheal Faraday (12 percent) the daddy of electromagnetism and electrochemistry who discovered electrolysis also featured highly on the list.

What was surprising about this study is that 8 percent of respondents had never heard of any of the names they were presented with whilst 3 percent said none of the names should be classed as Britain's greatest engineers. Unfortunately, the respondents were not asked who they thought should have been included.

Even more surprising was the 25 percent of votes that Thomas Edison, inventor of the world's first commercially viable light bulb managed to acquire despite being from the USA.

The new president of IET, Barry Brooks said "The survey highlights a lack of awareness of the central role of engineering and engineers in our everyday lives."

As part of the questionnaire, respondents were also tested on their knowledge of inventions which came out of Britain. 34 percent of respondents were unaware that the telephone was invented here, 37 percent were unaware of the television, 26 percent of the jet engine and 25 percent the steam engine.

Despite three quarters of those surveyed implying that they knew what an engineer was, less than half (44 percent) correctly identified the roles of an engineer.

IET president, Barry Brooks says, "During my term as IET president, I will be working hard to improve awareness of enginers and technicians in improving the quality of life of us all."

greatest engineer poll results

Were you shocked by the inclusion of Thomas Edison as the greatest 'British' engineer of all time? Do you think that engineers don't get the credit that they deserve considering that arguably have the biggest impact on the world we live in? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.


Get the latest process industry news

Interested in receiving even more industry-leading news from Process Industry Forum delivered directly to your inbox? Then sign up to our free newsletter. Bringing you the latest news, trends, innovations and opinion from across the process industry, our exclusive newsletter gives you all the industry insights of the moment in one, easy-to-digest bulletin. Stay ahead of the competition with regular process industry news instalments from PIF.

    Our Partners