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History’s Best Employees – Leonardo da Vinci

12.11.18 · Engineering News

At Vickerstock we are always on a quest to find the best possible engineering staff to place into companies.


When trying to understand what makes a great engineer it is often worth looking into the past to find examples of people who have pushed industry forward, created new inventions and most importantly - displayed and taught new ways of thinking and problem solving.

Interestingly as a scientist, Leonardo da Vinci had no formal education in Latin and mathematics and did not attend a university. Because of these factors, his scientific studies were largely ignored by other scholars and he would still have a hard time getting an engineering  job today without that degree! Leonardo's approach to science was one of intense observation and detailed recording, his tools of investigation being almost exclusively his eyes.

Unfortunately, Vickerstock was not around in 1482, but even without the degree we would have been delighted to have placed Leo into his employment with the Duke of Milan. 

Working in this role he designed canals, fortresses and domed churches while also exploring fantastic engineering concepts. As an engineer, Leonardo conceived ideas vastly ahead of his time. He came up with designs for the parachute, submarine, tank, the use of concentrated solar power, a calculator, a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics and the double hull. In practice, he greatly advanced the state of knowledge in the fields of anatomy, astronomy, civil engineering, optics, and the study of water (hydrodynamics).

Da Vinci had a few jobs in his day, and after 17 years with the Duke, went on to do jobs for the Pope and the King of France.

Leonardo's beautiful technical drawings have been preserved, many of which include the famous notes in mirror writing which he was famous for.  There have been a number of theories suggested as to why he wrote like this.  It may have been becuase he wanted to keep his idea's hidden from the church, which was a powerful institution at the time - and not the most open minded when it came to new ideas which went against their teachings.  He could have been trying to stop others from stealing his ideas, or it may simply have been because he found it more comfortable to write this way - as some say he was left handed. From a practical point of view, moving from right to left across the page with mirror writing would have prevented the ink from being smeared by the writing hand (although whether or not he was left-handed is up for debate). 


Luckily for us there is a nationwide event ‘Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing’ from 01 February to 6th May 2019, in which the Ulster Museum is taking part. It will provide the UK audience with an opportunity to see twelve drawings, selected to reflect Leonardo’s interest’s – painting, sculpture, architecture, music, anatomy, engineering, cartography, geology and botany.

The exhibition in Belfast will include The Head of St Anne and an anatomical drawing from 1489, The Skull Sectioned.


Think you're the next Leo? Check out our engineering opportunities.

Click here to view our live job opportunities within the engineering and technical sectors or email Engineering Recruitment Manager Hugh Nugent for more information.


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