Famed French engineer Alexandre Gustave Bönickhausen, better known as Eiffel, was born on December 16, 1832 in Dijon, France. His family had emigrated from the Eifel region Germany in an earlier generation. What started as a nickname was eventually modified into one of the most famous names in engineering history. Eiffel attended the École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures in Paris, one of the most prestigious engineering schools in Europe. After he completed his studies, he began to work for a company that designed and built railway bridges. Due to his competence, Eiffel was quickly given increased responsibility. Ultimately, he formed his own company.
Eiffel entered a competition to create a 300 meter tower as the centerpiece for the 1889 Exposition and the result was the tower that proudly bears his name. He was also responsible for the armature that made the Statue of Liberty possible. Less well known are his huge contributions to the sciences of metallurgy and aerodynamics. He was responsible for a host of other projects all over the world, not just France. Unfortunately for him, Eiffel also became involved in de Lesseps failed Panama Canal project, although he was cleared of blame. He died on December 27, 1923, just a few days past his 91st birthday.
Today’s expression, mettre du cœur à l’ouvrage (metruh due cur ah loovraj) means “to put heart to the work.” It’s used to describe situations where someone works with enthusiasm. Gustave Eiffel certainly put his heart and soul into his creations for the lasting enjoyment and use of millions.