Write 8 pages with APA style on George Westinghouse. Although his influence on the modern civilization may be unnoticed by many the achievements and inventions associated with Westinghouse’s name in some or other way surround us every day. The influence of George Westinghouse was decisive in improving the safety of the US railroad system, stimulation of the transportation industry growth, development of the modern electric distribution system and many other landmark inventions (Jonnes, 2003).
The son of a machine shop owner, Westinghouse was the eighth of ten children. His father’s machine shop manufactured a variety of industrial and agricultural machinery while Westinghouse Sr. himself was a talented inventor who registered at least seven patents. In 1860, at the age of fourteen Westinghouse Jr. started to work for his father at 50 cents an hour and got the first insights into machinery and metalworking. The Civil War interrupted the early start of his career as an inventor: George Westinghouse joined the Union army at the 15 and although his father forced him back in 1863 George finally received the consent of Westinghouse Sr. to be enlisted in the infantry. After several months Westinghouse Jr. became an engineer in the Union Navy (Dietrich, 2006).
The Civil War was over when Westinghouse was only 19 and already at that age he created and patented his first invention, the rotary steam engine (Jones 2003a). After spending three months at tiny Union College, Westinghouse finished his formal education, returned to the machinery of his father’s shop, and immediately produced a series of important inventions and engineering innovations. Thus, at age of twenty one Westinghouse invented the famous ‘car replacer’, a mechanical device to rerail derailed cars back onto the tracks and a mechanical ‘frog’ to switch trains onto of two tracks (ASME 1937). Although practical success of both these inventions Westinghouse did not gain much in terms of commercial success: his patent protection was not strong enough to prevent the railroads that adopted the replacer and frog from sidestepping his rights. However, Westinghouse considered the bitter experience and did not make the same mistake in the future.
Prior to turning his attention to the new and exceptionally promising fields of activity Westinghouse had already become widely known as a successful mechanical engineer, inventor and entrepreneur. The number of patents issued to him during only five years between 1869 and 1873 exceeded 20, and one of them was for one of the most essential inventions of that epoch, namely the air brake (Jonnes 2003). During the next decade, the air brake gained overwhelming acceptance among the railroads but Westinghouse became interested in finding and exploiting natural gas. Although that part of Westinghouse’s life is scarcely known and relatively insignificant considering his achievement in mechanical engineering and electricity, during only two years from 1884 to 1885 he applied for 28 patents.
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