Considering studying engineering at university, or already enrolled in an engineering degree? Get some inspiration from these 10 celebrities with degrees in engineering, including a few you might expect and several you almost definitely wouldn’t!
1. Rowan Atkinson
Electrical Engineering, Newcastle University
British actor and comedian Rowan Atkinson is perhaps best known for his role in the TV sitcoms Mr Bean and Blackadder, both of which were incredibly successful. Atkinson even appeared at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games in character as Mr Bean, where he played piano to a packed stadium and a television audience of 27 million (almost half the UK’s population).
Do you think the planning authorities of next year’s Olympics in Rio De Janeiro will be calling Mr Bean in to put his electrical engineering degree to good use? We’re not so sure…
2. Mike Bloomberg
Electrical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University
The next person on our list of celebrities with degrees in this subject area is also a graduate of electrical engineering, this time from a stateside university.
Mike Bloomberg rose to prominence by founding and growing his financial data and media company Bloomberg L.P., before running for mayor of New York City in 2001. After completing three terms in office, he announced his plans to return to Bloomberg, and became CEO of the company at the end of 2014.
3. Ashton Kutcher
Biochemical Engineering, University of Iowa
From his first role in That ‘70s Show, to his more recent appearances on the big and small screens, Ashton Kutcher is known around the world as a famous Hollywood star, so you might be surprised to find him on a list of celebrities with degrees in engineering.
In fact, he studied biochemical engineering at the University of Iowa. Initially motivated by the prospect of finding a cure for his brother’s heart condition, Kutcher soon embraced the more social side of student life. However, it seems the life of an engineer wasn’t for him. Before completing his degree, he quit university following a win in a modelling contest, and the rest is history.
4. Kalpana Chawla
Aeronautical Engineering, Punjab Engineering College
Born in Karnal, India, Kalpana Chawla completed an aeronautical engineering degree at Punjab Engineering College, before pursuing further studies in the US.
After joining NASA, she became both the first Indian-American and the first Indian woman in space. Despite her death in the tragic Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, her determination and curiosity ensure that she still remains an inspiring figure for the next generation of young engineers.
5. Bill Nye
Mechanical Engineering, Cornell University
Known to many in the US as ‘the Science Guy’, Bill Nye got an early taste of fame while starring in instructional videos at Boeing.
Combining his knowledge of science and engineering with his quick wit and writing skill, his television show Bill Nye the Science Guy ran for five years in the US, and Nye, with his trademark blue lab coat and bowtie, soon became a household name. He remains widely respected for making science appealing to a young audience.
6. Cindy Crawford
Chemical Engineering, Northwestern University
Our next celebrity engineer is perhaps a little more surprising… Cindy Crawford shot to fame as a model, and has since bolstered her fame and wealth with television and film roles. In 1995 Crawford was named by Forbes as the highest paid model on the planet.
It all seems rather a far cry from her earlier successes, which included winning an academic scholarship to study chemical engineering at Northwestern University. Crawford attended the course for just one quarter, before dropping out to pursue modelling in New York City.
7. Neil Armstrong
Aeronautical Engineering, Purdue University
Of all the of celebrities with degrees in engineering, none have travelled further than Neil Armstrong, who became the first person to set foot on the moon in 1969. The second astronaut in our list, Armstrong travelled around the state of Ohio with his family throughout his childhood.
As his love of flying grew, he enrolled at Purdue University to complete his bachelor’s degree, and later pursued a master’s at the University of Southern California. His story remains an important reminder that even those from relatively humble beginnings have the potential to go far – to the moon and back, in fact.
8. Chris Vance
Civil Engineering, Newcastle University
After growing up in Bristol, UK, Chris Vance went on to study civil engineering at Newcastle University. Could he have been following the example set by his fellow countryman Rowan Atkinson (aka Mr Bean)?
Either way, Vance’s career took a similar turn after his graduation, with his appearance in several British and Australian television series, before a move to the US.
9. Teri Hatcher
Mathematics and Engineering, De Anza College
American Actress Teri Hatcher is perhaps best known for her TV roles in The New Adventures of Superman and Desperate Housewives, definitive series for the 1990s and 2000s respectively.
Prior to this, however, she graduated from De Anza College in Cupertino with a joint mathematics and engineering qualification, perhaps inspired by her father’s career as an electrical engineer and nuclear physicist. She is now one of the highest paid television actresses in the US.
10. Carlos Slim
Civil Engineering, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Mexican businessperson Carlos Slim was born to Lebanese immigrants in 1940, and after graduating from UNAM with a civil engineering qualification he worked tirelessly to build an empire spanning several industries. His industrious nature came to light while still attending UNAM, where he taught algebra to supplement his studies.
Having wrestled with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett for the title of world’s richest person for several years (Slim held the title from 2010 to 2013), he is currently ranked second (Forbes).