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Historic Civil Engineers

Stephen D. Bechtel Sr., center, member of President Eisenhower's committee on a national highway plan

They laid the foundations
for how we live and work.

Because their achievements remain all around us, we know and continue to benefit from their civil engineering prowess. The men and women behind those achievements also deserve to stand the test of time. 

Read profiles of the world's greatest historic civil engineers and the works they made possible, plus the technical advances and innovations they devised that are still used and expanded upon by today's engineering professionals. 

Bechtel Sr., Stephen D.

"We'll build anything for anybody, no matter what the location, type or size." It sounded like a boast, but it was one Stephen D. Bechtel Sr. (1900-1989) could back up. His penchant for organizing projects on a massive scale led to many of the 20th century's most impressive works, from the Hoover Dam to transcontinental pipelines and nuclear power plants.

Complete List of Profiles

Read interesting profiles of dozens of historic engineers, as compiled by ASCE's History & Heritage Committee.

Richards, Ellen Henrietta Swallow

Richards, Ellen Henrietta Swallow"One of the most disheartening things of the day is to see the waste of time and energy in the occupations of nine tenths of American women." So said Ellen Richards (1842-1911) around the turn of the 20th century. Richards was a pioneer in the fields of sanitary engineering and public health. as well as the founder of euthenics and home economics.

Laurie, James


Laurie, James

James Laurie, a co-founder and first president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, was a native of Scotland who became the chief engineer of a Boston-based railroad in the 1830s. Co-founding what would become ASCE in 1852, Laurie (1811-1875) strove to have the Society embody the ethics of the engineering profession.