Egide Walschaerts was a mechanical engineer, born January 21, 1820 in Malines, Belgium. He studied at Liège, and in 1842 joined the Belgian State Railway workshops.
In 1844 he invented a type of valve gear, called Walschaert Gear used in the majority of steam engines. The gear allows for adjustment of the timing of the inlet and exhaust valves on the drive cylinders, including an ability to put a Steam Locomotive into reverse.
He invented several other improvements to steam engines, and was awarded a gold medal at the Exposition Universelle (1878) in Paris.