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Aurel Stodola (Slovak: Aurel Stodola) was a Slovak engineer and inventor. He founded the field of thermodynamics and made significant contributions to a variety of scientific fields. He spent nearly half of his life as a professor at the Zurich Institute of Technology, where he was consulted on the development of the gas turbine. Throughout his career, he educated and influenced hundreds of engineers, including some of our generation’s greatest scientists. During World War I, he met a surgeon with whom he collaborated to assist injured soldiers returning from the war. In 1928, he invented the first heat pump, which is still the primary source of heat generation for the city hall in Geneva, Switzerland. As the inventor of the steam turbine, he wrote a highly regarded manual that was eventually translated into several languages and is still used as a reference today. He was a tireless seeker of new knowledge in a wide variety of technical sciences, was awarded honorary doctorates by four universities, received numerous awards, and served as an adviser to the French Academy of Sciences. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology designated 2009 as the “Year of Aurel Stodola,” and the asteroid 3981 Stodola was named in his honor.

Childhood & Adolescence

Aurel Stodola was born in Liptovsky Mikulas, Austria, on May 10, 1859, to leather manufacturer Andreas Stodola and Anna Kovac. Kornel and Emil, two of his brothers, would later become successful politicians.

He attended secondary school in Levoca and later graduated from a public school in Kosice. Between 1876 and 1880, he attended a number of educational institutions, including the Budapest Technical University and the University of Zurich, before earning a degree in mechanical engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

Career of Aurel

He gained his first technical experience while working for the Hungarian State Railway. In 1883, he assisted in the reconstruction of his father’s tannery, which had been destroyed in a fire.

Between 1884 and 1892, he worked in Prague for Ruston and Company, where he designed steam and water turbines and compressors.

Stodola continued his education at Charlottenburg Technical University and the Sorbonne in Paris. As an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and design, he began teaching in 1892.

He was quickly promoted to the rank of full professor, which he held until his retirement in 1929.

Through his work with supersonic flow and the de Laval nozzle, he gained new insights into shock wave research.

Between 1915 and 1916, he collaborated with Dr. Ferdinand Sauerbruch on the development of an artificial hand, which paved the way for advancements in other prosthetic limbs. This collaboration was sparked by the large number of amputee veterans returning from World War I.

Even after his retirement, he continued to consult on the internal combustion engine’s development.

Significant Works of Aurel

In 1903, he published his seminal work, Steam and Gas Turbines. He would repeatedly add to and revise the manuscript. The first edition contained 220 pages, but by the fifth edition, it had grown to over 1,100 pages.

In 1931, he published ‘Thoughts on a Worldview from an Engineering Perspective,’ a commentary on social responsibility in science.

Awards and Accomplishments

In 1908, he was presented with the Grashof Commemorative Medal in recognition of his contributions to engineering research.

He was awarded the James Watt International Gold Medal for his work on steam turbine structural elements in 1940.

Personal History and Legacies

He married Darina Palka in 1887 and had two daughters with her. Stodola established a fund for Zurich Institute of Technology in March 1924. The account had grown to two million francs by 2002. (over two million dollars). The funds will be used to support his alma mater’s research and education.

He solicited donations in the 1930s to help fund the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Gabon, Africa. The hospital’s research division is currently leading the charge in developing a malaria cure.

During his lifetime, he influenced hundreds of scientists, including Albert Einstein, with whom he maintained a friendship until his death. He died in Zurich on December 25, 1942, and his ashes were returned to his birthplace in 1989.

The Zurich Institute of Technology established an award in his honor to recognize mechanical engineering experts.

Estimated Net Worth

Aurel is one of the wealthiest physicists and is listed on the list of the most popular physicists. Aurel Stodola’s net worth is estimated to be around $1.5 million, based on our analysis of Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.


His research and work established him as the “Father of Steam Turbines.” In 1984, an asteroid named after this great Slovak engineer was discovered.