From Electricity to E-Commerce: Five Famous Electrical Engineers

If you're pursing one of the sundry online electrical engineering degrees and wondering where they may take you, check out our list of five famous electrical engineers. These top professionals have proven that in this field, the possibilities are endless. Whether you're looking into a brick-and-mortar school or one of the online electrical engineering programs, this is one degree that could lead you to a bright future.

1. Jeff Bezos - As the founder and CEO of Amazon.com, electrical engineer Jeff Bezos is often known as the father of e-commerce. Bezos' knack for tinkering with things dates back to his childhood: As a toddler, he took his crib apart with a screwdriver and he later created an electric alarm to keep his siblings out of his room. Bezos took a job on Wall Street after graduating from Princeton, and quickly rose up the ranks in the financial world. But he began to notice how quickly Internet use was growing and seized on the opportunity. Bezos and his wife began Amazon.com as a bare-bones operation selling books online out of their home, but it quickly caught on with sales reaching $20,000 per week after just two months. Today, the online behemoth sells anything from toys to clothes with sales in the billions, and Bezos is one of the most famous electrical engineers of our time.

2. Wilson Greatbatch - This electrical engineer is famous for inventing the pacemaker. Wilson Greatbatch collaborated with surgeon William Chardack to design and build the first implantable pulse generator in the country, which was successfully put into a patient in 1960. Greatbatch was the 2001 recipient of the Russ Prize for innovation in engineering. He is the brain behind more than 325 patented inventions, according to his obituary in The New York Times. He died in 2011 at the age of 92.

3. Thomas Edison - Thomas Edison is perhaps the most famous electrical engineer of all time. But what many people may not know about him is that in addition to inventing the phonograph, the motion picture camera and the first commercial light bulb, Edison patented 1,093 inventions - a world record. Born in Milan, Ohio in 1847, Edison was also an entrepreneur. He founded 14 companies including General Electric over the course of his life. Thomas Edison lived and worked for many years in New Jersey, and the state now has a town named after him, Edison, N.J. He died in 1931.

4. Judith A. Resnik - Judith Resnik used her electrical engineering degree to become an astronaut. After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University and then earning her doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland in 1977, Resnik was recruited by NASA. In 1984, she was on the crew of a 7-day mission that orbited the earth 96 times. Sadly, Resnik was also on the crew of the Challenger that launched in 1986. The entire crew of that mission, including Resnik, died when the Challenger exploded after launch. Resnik was 36 years old. She was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

5. Nikola Tesla - This famous inventor was both an electrical engineer and a mechanical engineer. Nikola Tesla was born in 1856 in what is now Croatia, but he moved to the U.S. in the 1880s and went on to become an American citizen. Tesla invented the induction motor and is widely known for his creation of the alternating current system which energizes the modern electric power system. A pioneer in his field, Tesla's creation of the "Tesla coil" still used in radio and television equipment today and his design of the power plant at Niagara Falls are among his many achievements. Tesla died in 1943.

Online electrical engineers programs can be the gateway to an exciting career. Whether you're tinkering with tools or reinventing ways to use the Internet, an electrical engineering degree can open up a world of possibilities. Just consider the success of these individuals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the mean annual wages for electrical engineers working in the U.S. were $87,180, as of 2010; a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering is typically required to make a start in the field.

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