5 Trailblazing Engineers You Likely Don’t Know About but Should


When it comes to trailblazing engineers, we’ve all learned about the likes of Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, and the Wright Brothers — and for good reason — but what about other innovators who haven’t made it into history books?

For this year’s National Engineers Week on Feb. 20-26, 2022, let’s learn about five folks who aren’t famous engineers — but should be.

Walter Braithwaite gave CAD flight at Boeing

Dr. Walter Braithwaite is a Jamaican-American engineer who spent his professional career innovating aircrafts, and more importantly, developing better ways for how to design them.

Braithwaite joined Boeing in 1966 as a tool engineer with a degree in electrical and electronic engineering. A decade later, he led an engineering team to develop a computer-aided design (CAD) system to design commercial airplanes. Braithwaite’s work was integral in building the Boeing 777, the first jetliner engineered entirely on a computer. Before Braithwaite’s CAD system, jets were designed by drafting with pen and paper.

In 1995, Braithwaite was promoted to a vice president position with the company. He oversaw all of Boeing’s computer systems and intellectual property. In 2003, after retiring from Boeing, Braithwaite began his own consulting firm WB Associates LLC.

Walter Braithwaite

Source: Walter Braithwaite’s LinkedIn Profile

Braithwaite earned many awards throughout his trailblazing career, including the 1987 Joseph Marie Jacquard Memorial Award from his alma mater, the American Institute of Manufacturing Technology. In addition, in 1995 he was named Black Engineer of the Year and the following year received the Museum of History and Industry’s History Makers Award in Science and Technology. The Museum of Flight recognized his achievements with its 2017 Pathfinder Award.

Beulah Louise Henry found ingenuity in everyday life

Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1887, Beulah Louise Henry was a self-taught engineer. She credited her ingenuity to being easily inspired. She’s been dubbed as “Lady Edison” with more than 100 inventions to her name and 49 U.S. patents.

A few of Henry’s most notable inventions include

  • vacuum ice cream freezer
  • soap-filled sponges for children
  • bobbin-less sewing machine
  • A typewriter accessory that could make four copies of a document called the “protograph”

Source: Wikipedia

In 2006, over 30 years after her death, Henry was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Guillermo González Camarena brought color to our screens

The Mexican mechanical engineer Guillermo González Camarena invented the Chromoscopy Adapter for Television Equipment, an early transmission system for color TV. He was only 23 years old by the time he earned his patent. The adapter made it possible for black and white cameras to capture color.

The system became the first color TV system to be approved by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, and in 1950 Camarena’s adapter was accepted as the “standard” system.

Guillermo Gonzalez Camarena

Source: Mexico Daily Post

Over the course of the next two decades, Camarena continued to iterative on color TV transmissions that improved upon his original design.

Marie Van Brittan Brown sounded the alarms

Marie Van Brittan Brown was born in 1922 in Jamaica, Queens, New York. In the 1960s, Brown and her husband worked irregular hours as a nurse and electrician, respectively. At that time, the Browns’ neighborhood had a high crime rate, and Marie was often at home by herself. Dissatisfied with how long it took law enforcement to respond to calls for help in her community, Brown got to work inventing the first home security system.

The security system consisted of four peepholes, a sliding camera, TV monitors, and two-way microphones. The camera used the four peepholes to capture people of different heights.

Marie Van Brittan Brown

Source: Wikipedia

The two-way microphone allowed the Browns to communicate with people outside, much like many security systems today. And if danger did appear, Brown had an emergency button she could press that would send an alarm to security.

These items created a closed-circuit television system for surveillance, also known as CCTV. Brown and her husband received a patent for their security system in 1969. She was recognized for her work in The New York Times and National Scientists Committee. More than thirty patents today cite Brown’s original work.

Mark Rober became a new-wave innovator

Mark Rober is a California native and former NASA and Apple engineer and is now a full-time content creator on YouTube and other social media platforms. On YouTube alone, he has 21.1 million subscribers. With that many subscribers, you may have heard of this trailblazing engineer.

Rober studied mechanical engineering and has a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree from the University of Southern California.

During his time at NASA, he started making viral videos. On Rober’s YouTube Channel, he creates videos teaching science lessons, recreating his inventions like this courteous car horn or the world’s largest t-shirt cannon, and even hosting live classes.

Mark Rober

Source: ABC News – Walt Disney

Rober is helping make engineering popular by showing people how cool it can be.

Madie Norris Forcier
About the Author

SolidProfessor content writer and self-appointed World’s Greatest Dog Mom