In Star Trek, the engineers are the backbone of everything the heroes do. From the original miracle worker Scotty, to TNG era heroes like Geordi La Forge and B’Elanna Torres, to the more recent mushroom-riding Stamets and the unflappable Hemmer, engineers make life in Starfleet possible. Here, according to us, are the five best of them.
Star Trek: Enterprise‘s chief engineer Trip (Connor Trinneer) — through no fault of his own — couldn’t boast the same wealth of knowledge as Montgomery Scott or Geordi La Forge. After all, Enterprise is set before the United Federation of Planets even exists. For the NX-01, going past Warp 4 made for a memorable day.
That’s exactly why Trip belongs on this list. Without the shoulders of giants to stand on or the same kind of Starfleet education other Star Trek engineers enjoyed, Trip had to keep his ship running with hardly any kind of user manual to work with. In the end, like Star Trek: Strange New World‘s Hemmer (Bruce Horak), he sacrifices everything to save his friends.
It’s understandable that, at first, Star Trek: Voyager‘s Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) wasn’t completely sold on the idea of making B’Elanna Torres (Roxann Dawson) her chief engineer. Not only do we first meet Torres as one of the rebel Maquis, but before and after her promotion she occasionally lets her Klingon rage get the better of her.
But in the end it seems like Star Trek: Voyager couldn’t have done with any other engineer. She isn’t always the most polite officer on the titular ship but she’s perhaps the most passionate Starfleet engineer in the franchise, and she gets Voyager home without the benefit of the occasional starbase refit.
It is practically impossible to imagine a situation Geordi La Forge couldn’t have gotten the Enterprise out of. Driven, innovative, and tireless, Geordi got the Enterprise out of numerous scrapes. In fact, in the final season of Star Trek: Picard, we learn the legendary engineer rebuilt the Enterprise-D in secret.
Not to mention that with Star Trek: The Next Generation, the franchise gave us a unique situation with its engineer. Because Data (Brent Spiner) is an android, Geordi is not only his friend, but usually his only lifeline when something internally goes wrong. No other engineer in Trek was so singularly responsible for another of their series’ heroes.
Scotty (James Doohan) is the original Star Trek engineer, the one all the others are judged against. As funny and relatable as he is dedicated to keeping the Enterprise running, Scotty has such a salt-of-the-earth feel that it’s easy to forget how much of an absolute genius he is. Even if you’re not a fan of the Kelvin Timeline films, you have to admit that’s an aspect of the character Simon Pegg gets the opportunity to put on display more.
He’s also the only Star Trek engineer whose ingenuity manages to bring himself a brand new home in another era. In the TNG episode “Relics,” Scotty finds himself in the 24th century after keeping his pattern stable in a transporter buffer for decades.
Maybe I’m biased because Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is my favorite of all the series, but it’s difficult to imagine that any engineer in Starfleet has had to deal with the same challenges as Miles O’Brien (Colm Meaney); and that’s without even counting things like being cloned and used as a spy, or being sent to a virtual reality prison.
As the only Star Trek engineer — as far as the series’ principal casts are concerned — dealing with a space station rather than a ship, there are weights on O’Brien’s shoulders the others will never know. He’s not just responsible for the engineering needs of the joint Starfleet and Bajoran forces on DS9, but for those of every shopkeeper on the promenade, every civilian living on the station, and every ship that docks there.
To top it off, unlike all of the other principal Star Trek engineers, O’Brien isn’t even working with familiar Starfleet technology, but with the troublesome tech the Cardassians left behind. This regularly causes O’Brien and the rest of the station no end of problems, including early in the series the computer just straight up refusing to follow O’Brien’s orders. That he was able to manage all of this, not to mention ultimately doing it on the front lines of the war against the Dominion, makes him the best engineer of the bunch.
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