Celebrating National Engineers’ Week

Charles F. Brush (Image: Materion)

This week we celebrate National Engineers’ Week in the U.S. – the purpose of this week is to call attention to the contributions engineers make to society. 

My National Engineers’ Week champion is Charles F. Brush, inventor, innovator, and – would you believe it – builder of the world’s first electricity-generating wind turbine, in 1888! 

Born on March 17, 1849 in Euclid, Ohio, Brush was multi-talented as an inventor who created practical solutions. For example, he developed longer-lasting arc lamps, and designed new, more-efficient electrical generators used for community lighting and hydroelectric power schemes. 

Looking back, though, the Brush wind turbine captures my imagination, showcasing his engineering genius and establishing his legacy. His turbine generated 12kW and powered his own house, charging a large battery store to provide electricity on windless days. In the smog-choked rush of the industrial revolution, Brush was generating pollution-free renewable electricity—what a legend.

Now, more than 130 years later, we are catching up with Brush, proactively seeking out alternative fuel options, such as wind power

So for National Engineers’ Week, I salute Charles F Brush; a man of his time, and ahead of his time.

Published: February 2020