Pioneers in Electrical Engineering -

People Who Helped Power the World

The names of important electrical units like Volts, Amps and Ohms weren’t pulled out of the sky, they are named after the important people who discovered them! Electrical & Electronic Engineering has a vast number of notable notables, but we at Remke would like to take a moment and focus on 3 people who contributed greatly to the advancement of the industry. Enjoy!

Alessandro Volta (1745-1827, Italy)

Alessandro was a pioneer in the field of electricity, in fact the SI unit of electric potential (the Volt) was named after him! The youngest of 7 children, Volta developed the concept of ‘state of saturation of bodies’ to explain attractions and repulsions of electrified bodies. The electrophore he invented was severely criticized by Beccaria, one of the chief authorities in electricity. In 1774, he became the principal of the state Gymnasium in Como. In 1775, he was granted the professorship of experimental physics. Cavendish’s memoir of 1771 made Volta transform his notion of ‘natural saturation’ into the concept of potential. Seeing Volta’s demonstrations, Napoleon raised him to Count and Senator of the kingdom of Italy. Learn more here.

Georg Simon Ohm (1789 – 1854, Germany)

Georg was a mathematician and a physicist. The SI unit of electrical resistance was named after him as the Ohm. He taught mathematics in Gottstadt and received his PhD in 1811. In 1817, Ohm was offered the position of ‘Oberlehrer’ of mathematics and physics at the Jesuit Gymnasium at Cologne. He began his experiments on electricity and magnetism after 1820. His first scientific paper was published in 1825 in which he sought a relationship between the decrease in the force exerted by current-carrying wires and the length of the wires. In April 1826, he published two important papers on galvanism electricity and a book on Ohm’s law, Die Galvanische Kette Mathematische Bearbeit, in 1827. Ohm’s law was so coldly received that Ohm resigned his post at Cologne. He obtained the professorship of physics at the Polytechnische Schedule in Nuremberg in 1833. Finally, his work began to be recognized, and in 1841, he was awarded the Copley Medal of the Royal Society of London. Learn more here.

Nikola Tesla (1856 – 1943, b. Croatia, d. New York)

Nikola Tesla was a pioneer in the field of high-tension electricity. The SI unit of magnetic flux density was named after him as the Tesla (T). He made many discoveries and inventions of great value to the development of radio transmission and to the field of electricity. These include a system of arc lighting, the Tesla induction motor and a system of alternating-current transmission, the Tesla coil, a transformer to increase oscillating currents to high potential, a system of wireless communication, and a system of transmitting electric power without wires. He designed the great power system at Niagara. Tesla’s advanced concepts include transmission of large quantities of electrical power without wires and inexhaustible energy supplies from the universe. Despite over 700 patents bearing his name he disliked being called an “inventor,” much preferring the description “discoverer”. Learn more here.

There are certainly countless contributors to evolution of electrical engineering over the years, and while we highlighted just a few, we hope you walk away with a better sense of the history behind the industry we know and love!

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