LEONARDO DA VINCI
While navigating through this site, you might have found the image of
Leonardo da Vinci practically inescapable. Some see him as the
"Quintessential Engineer", one able to effectively combine
scientific intellect with artistic creativity.
known as an artist, his name inevitably brings forth images of the
Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. He was also an architect and a
scientist. Yet, if asked, he would ultimately refer to himself as an
engineer. Driven by an unrelenting curiosity and an insatiable
hunger for knowledge, da Vinci was an incredibly innovative thinker
who perceived the world not only as his personal playground, but
also as one with unlimited possibilities. From his fertile mind
sprang designs of flying machines and instruments of war, as well as
practical theories and concepts in engineering, mathematics, and
science, many of which were centuries ahead of their times. If da
Vinci lived in our time, his accomplishments would have been
As engineers, we originate, plan, design,
orchestrate, and construct. The role that we play in this society is
a vital one. Our only standard is to strive to be the best in all
that we do.
Leonardo Da Vinci is also recognized for his
"mirror writing" skills, which is done by starting at the right side
of the page and moving to the left. Only when he was writing
something intended for other people did he write in the normal
direction. Possible motives for this include:
- He was attempting to make it more difficult
for other people to read his notes and steal his ideas.
- He was concealing his scientific ideas from
the powerful Roman Catholic Church, whose teachings sometimes
disagreed with what Leonardo observed.
- Writing left handed from left to right was
messy because the ink would smear as his hand moved across it.
Leonardo chose to write in reverse because it prevented
Click here for an example of what his
handwriting might have looked like.
|Contributions to the Field of
writings and sketches that da Vinci left behind display his
tremendous grasp of theories, rules and ideas that were only fleshed
out hundreds of years later. His visionary ideas have encouraged
experimentation and discovery even to modern times.
Leonardo did extensive work in geometry,
focusing his attention on the study of arc rupture, a
previously unexplored field. He made sketches that calculated
the breaking strength of an arch, proving his understanding of
the modern concept of the line of thrust. This knowledge was
implemented in his designs of the domed churches he did for
the Duke of Milan. His analysis of the strength of materials
greatly advanced engineering practices.
da Vinci was primarily interested in
ornithopters, flapping wing machines designed to imitate the
flight characteristics of birds. While his aeronautic
experimentation served as an inspiration to engineers that
followed, it wasn't until the early 1900's that any real
flying machines were successfully launched. Leonardo was also
intrigued by designs of what we now know as parachutes,
helicopters and gliders.
While serving as the primary engineer to
the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, da Vinci worked on designs
of military tanks, submarines, catapults, and other combat
da Vinci's extensive work in the study of
hydraulics was focused on the canals of the Arno and Lombardy
regions. It is suggested that he probably invented the
hydrometer, a device widely used to measure the gravity or
density of a liquid.
Cesare Borgian hired da Vinci to design a
fortress. As this design, along with his work on the Lombard
canal system, both clearly demonstrate, his approach was
highlighted by a phenomenal emphasis on careful scientific
observation and a thorough understanding of the strength of
Even a careful examination of his immeasurable
list of diversified interests, projects and talents does
little to provide the full measure of Leonardo da Vinci.
Nearly 500 years after his death, he remains the epitome of
the Renaissance Man and the "Ideal Engineer".
More Designs by Leonardo da Vinci