Cashing in on engineering achievements

March 3, 2014
This past year’s Nobel Prizes have been handed out, bestowing worldwide fame and $1.2 million in prize money on chemists, doctors, economists, peacemakers, physicists, and writers — but not engineers.
This past year’s Nobel Prizes have been handed out, bestowing worldwide fame and $1.2 million in prize money on chemists, doctors, economists, peacemakers, physicists, and writers — but not engineers.

Don’t take the slight too hard. There are a multitude of engineering prizes and, though none is as prestigious as the Nobel, winners of these awards can still smile all the way to the bank. Here are six that hand out eye-popping sums.

£1,000,000 ($1,630,000) —The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering recognizes that engineering is fundamental to society, sustains our economies, and underpins almost every detail of modern life. It celebrates world-changing advances in engineering that have made a difference to humanity. It’s administered by Britain’s Royal Academy of Engineering but global in scope. Three Americans, a Frenchman, and a Brit shared the 2013 prize for pioneering Internet developments.

$500,000 — The Lemelson-MIT Prize recognizes engineers whose innovations have made the world a better place in which to live. It is awarded to outstanding mid-career inventors who have developed a practical product or process of significant value to society. By recognizing younger engineers, the prize is designed to spur inventive careers and provide role models for future generations of inventors.

The following three awards are called — at least in America — the “Nobel Prizes of Engineering.” They’re administered by The National Academy of Engineering.

$500,000 — The Charles Stark Draper Prize honors significant engineering advances that also enhance the public’s understanding of the importance of engineering and technology. This year’s award went to rechargeable-battery pioneers who laid the groundwork for today’s lithium-ion batteries.

$500,000 — The Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize lauds a bioengineering achievement in widespread use that improves human health. It is also intended to foster a better appreciation for the contributions engineers make to our well-being and quality of life, and to encourage collaboration between the engineering and medical/biological professions. The only bad news: If you’ve won the Draper Prize, you’re not eligible for the Russ Prize.

$500,000 — The Bernard M. Gordon Prize recognizes academic leaders who develop new educational approaches to engineering. The intent is to recognize education innovations, such as new teaching methods or technology-enabled learning, that strengthen students’ capabilities and help develop effective engineering leaders.

£300,000 ($489,000) — The A. F. Harvey Engineering Research Prize honors the engineering achievements of an individual researcher. The international award is administered by the Institution of Engineering and Technology in the U. K., and the prize money is intended to support further R&D. Past winners include researchers in medical optogenetics, radar systems, and solar-cell efficiency.

About the Author

Kenneth Korane

Ken Korane holds a B.S. Mechanical Engineering from The Ohio State University. In addition to serving as an editor at Machine Design until August 2015, his prior work experience includes product engineer at Parker Hannifin Corp. and mechanical design engineer at Euclid Inc. 

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