John Augustus Roebling (born Johann August Röbling, June 12, 1806 in Mühlhausen – July 22, 1869) was a German-born American civil engineer. He is famous for his wire rope suspension bridge designs, in particular, the design of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Roebling was the youngest of four children. He was baptized in the Lutheran church Divi Blasii at Mühlhausen. As a young boy he played the bass clarinet and the french horn. He also exhibited great artistic talent for sketches and paintings. His father owned a small tobacco shop, but the business was insufficient to provide livelihood for all three sons. Roebling's sister Friederike Amalie married Carl August Meissner, a poor merchant in the town, and his oldest brother Herman Christian Roebling prepared to take over the tobacco shop.
At first John attended the gymnasium in Mühlhausen. Recognizing his intelligence at a young age, Roebling's mother, Friederike Dorothea Roebling arranged for him to be tutored in mathematics and science at Erfurt by Ephraim Solomon Unger. He went to Erfurt when he was 15. In 1824 he passed his Surveyor's examination and returned home for a year. In 1824 he enrolled for two semesters at the Bauakademie in Berlin where he studied architecture and engineering under Martin Friedrich Rabe (1765–1856), bridge construction and foundation construction under Johann Friedrich Dietlein (1782–1837), hydraulics under Johann Albert Eytelwein (1764–1848), and languages. Roebling also attended lectures of the philosopher Hegel. Roebling developed an interest in natural philosophy and many years later he worked on a 1000 page treatise about his own concepts of the universe.