James Watt

(1736 – 1819)

Portrait of James Watt by Jack Kamen

Jack Kamen Artwork

James Watt was a Scottish inventor most famous for his improvements to the steam engine. His innovations helped drastically increase power production, giving rise to the Industrial Revolution and mass mechanization. The scientific unit for power the watt is named after him. His patents include an early steam locomotive.

Inspiration for Improvements

While repairing an early Newcomen steam engine, Watt was alarmed by its waste of steam. After nearly a year of tinkering, he had a sudden realization: If he could recapture the latent heat lost while the liquid changed states into steam, he could make the engine more efficient. His solution was a condenser, a chamber which captured the steam and converted it back into water.

Explore Additional Portraits in the Collection

Albert Einstein

Christa McAuliffe

These portraits were commissioned by Dean Kamen for the SEE Science Center.  The artist is Jack Kamen (1920-2008), an American graphic artist and Dean’s father. The series was created to inspire children through the stories of scientists and engineers whose work changed the world.  While many of the pieces represent men, the duo worked hard to identify female scientists.  Had Jack not passed, their goal was to continue to increase representation within the collection.  The original artwork is on display at the SEE Science Center in the Jack Kamen Portrait Gallery.