On June 8, 1729, the English civil engineer John Smeaton was born. He is widely regarded as the father of civil engineering, having coined the term to distinguish it from military engineering. Smeaton was a capable mechanical engineer and an eminent physicist, and he pioneered the use of hydraulic lime in concrete. He was associated with the Lunar Society and is credited with the design of bridges, canals, ports and lighthouses.
John Smeaton is considered to be the first civil engineer and is often referred to as the “Father of Civil Engineering”. He worked on the creation of windmills and hydraulic wheels during the Industrial Revolution and published an article on the correlation between pressure and speed of objects moving through the air. Smeaton had a wide range of orders for the design of bridges, canals, ports and lighthouses. In addition to civil engineering, John Smeaton enjoyed conducting scientific experiments, and 18 of his works were published by the Royal Society.
Such was the statement of the Society of Civil Engineers in 1812, when the industrial revolution was already transforming much of English society and creating public works on a scale never before imagined. He coined the term civil engineers to distinguish them from military engineers who graduated from the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich. One of the most versatile civil engineers in history is Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who became famous for designing tunnels, railway lines, bridges and ships. John founded the world's first engineering society, the Society of Civil Engineers, in 1771, which became the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers after his death.
While Smeaton is awarded the title of “Father of Civil Engineering”, Benjamin Wright has been declared the “Father of American Civil Engineering”. He is highly regarded by other engineers, as he contributed to the Lunar Society and founded the Society of Civil Engineers in 1771. Five of Wright's nine children followed in their father's footsteps and also became civil engineers. As a civil engineer, John Smeaton was not matched by any of his contemporaries or any previous age. The society still meets at the headquarters of the Institution of Civil Engineers, One Great George Street, to this day. Although modern engineering owes hundreds of innovators over time, John Smeaton stands out as one of the most influential civil engineers in history.