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Happy Engineer's Week!


National Engineer's Week was started in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers in conjunction with President George Washington's birthday (February 22). President Washington is considered as the nation's first engineer, notably for his survey work.


Prior to the start of National Engineers Week, the University of Missouri College of Engineering began celebrating the world's first Engineers' Week in 1903, 48 years before the National Society of Professional Engineers, with St. Patrick as the patron Saint of engineers.


Today's engineers are not only considered by many to be in the Top 10 List of greatest engineers but have also been instrumental in North Carolina history. These men achieved a whole new age with their technological foresight. On Dec. 17th, 1903 this pair of pioneers opened the doors to the modern world of transportation as we know it today.


The pair’s genius lay not only in a singular act that changed the world, but also in the approach they evolved and employed to create the technology that made them famous. Their method of evaluating data gathered by testing, then refining the design of their endeavors based on those results, remains an essential tool in this industry’s research and development.


These men were the only members of their family who did not attend college or marry. After a hockey accident, the older of the two men spent the following three years recovering his health, reading extensively in his father’s library, assisting his father, a bishop, and caring for his invalid mother who died of tuberculosis in 1889.


The older of the two had spent several summers learning the printing trade and persuaded his younger counterpart to join him in establishing a print shop. In addition to normal printing services, these men edited and published two short-lived local newspapers, and they also developed a local reputation for the quality of the presses that they designed, built, and sold to other printers. The improved printing presses were one of the first indications of the extraordinary technical abilities and their unique approach to the solution of problems in mechanical design by these men.


In 1892 they opened a bicycle sales and repair shop, then began building bicycles on a small scale in 1896. They created a self-oiling bicycle wheel hub and installed a number of light machine tools in the shop. Profits from the print shop and the bicycle operation eventually were to fund the experiments from 1899 to 1905 that would make them famous.


Wilbur and Orville Wright achieved the first powered, sustained, and controlled airplane flight (1903). They also built and flew the first fully practical airplane (1905).

Wilbur and Orville Wright. The experience of designing and building lightweight, precision machines of wood, wire, and metal tubing in their print shop and bicycle shop work were ideal preparations for the construction of 'aeroplanes' that would later change the world.


In their later years they related their fascinations with flight to a small toy helicopter that their father had brought home from his travels. By 1899 the brothers had exhausted the resources of the local library and had written to the Smithsonian Institution for suggestions as to further reading in their future field of expertise. The following year they wrote to introduce themselves to Octave Chanute, a leading civil engineer and an authority who would remain a confidant of the brothers during the critical years from 1900 to 1905.

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