October 28, 1792: Birth of “Father of Civil Engineering”

John Smeaton, with the Eddystone Lighthouse in the background

John Smeaton, with the Eddystone Lighthouse in the background

October 28, 1792: Death of John Smeaton at the age of 68. “John Smeaton (8 June 1724 – 28 October 1792) was an English civil engineer responsible for the design of bridges, canals, harbors and lighthouses. He was also a capable mechanical engineer and an eminent physicist. Smeaton was the first self-proclaimed civil engineer, and often regarded as the ‘father of civil engineering.’ He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1753, and in 1759 won the Copley Medal for his research into the mechanics of waterwheels and windmills. His 1759 paper ‘An Experimental Enquiry Concerning the Natural Powers of Water and Wind to Turn Mills and Other Machines Depending on Circular Motion’ addressed the relationship between pressure and velocity for objects moving in air, and his concepts were subsequently developed to devise the ‘Smeaton Coefficient.’

Over the period 1759-1782 he performed a series of further experiments and measurements on waterwheels that led him to support and champion the vis viva theory of German Gottfried Leibniz, an early formulation of conservation of energy.”

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