John Smeaton, FRS, (June 8, 1724 – October 28, 1792) was a civil engineer – often regarded as the "father of civil engineering" – responsible for the design of bridges, canals, harbours and lighthouses. He was also a more than capable mechanical engineer and an eminent physicist. He was associated with the Lunar Society. He was the first self-proclaimed civil engineer.
He was born in Austhorpe, Leeds, England. After studying at Leeds Grammar School, he joined his father's law firm, but then left to become a mathematical instrument maker (working with Henry Hindley), developing, among other instruments, a pyrometer to study material expansion and a whirling speculum or horizontal top (a maritime navigation aid).
He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1753, and in 1759 won the Copley Medal for his research into the mechanics of waterwheels and windmills. His 1759 paper "An Experimental Enquiry Concerning the Natural Powers of Water and Wind to Turn Mills and Other Machines Depending on Circular Motion" addressed the relationship between pressure and velocity for objects moving in air, and his concepts were subsequently developed to devise the 'Smeaton Coefficient'.