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FHWA Salutes America’s ‘First Engineer’

Posted by FHWA Acting Deputy Administrator Butch Waidelich

This week, we join thousands of others nationwide to observe National Engineers Week. It’s a week-long celebration of the many contributions engineers have made to our lives and to society as a whole… and a heartfelt welcome to the next generation of engineers.

America’s road system depends heavily on engineers – from the civil engineers who design road and bridge projects, to the mechanical, geological, hydrological, electrical and countless other engineers who translate idea into reality. The U.S. highway system is the backbone of the world’s most powerful economy, and engineers make it possible.

What few may realize is that America itself was built by engineers. Each day this week, we will highlight one of the four U.S. Presidents who have an engineering background. For example, before he was the Father of Our Country, or a general, or even a married man, President George Washington was a land surveyor, and he used his talents to map out many of the county boundaries in northern Virginia. Studying topography, mapping straight routes through rugged terrain and establishing property lines were among the many tasks his skills made possible. Such practical skills are among the basics of what today we call civil engineering.

To this day, the National Society of Professional Engineers considers President Washington to be the nation’s first engineer and celebrates National Engineers Week each year in conjunction with his birthday.  Throughout this week, we celebrate engineers and invite you to join us. From highways and bridges to vehicles of every size, shape and dimension, engineers built the modern age and deserve our thanks.