Felix Heinrich Wankel (ˈfeːlɪks ˈhaɪnʁɪç ˈvaŋkl̩; 13 August 1902 – 9 October 1988) was a German mechanical engineer and inventor after whom the Wankel engine was named.
Wankel was born in 1902 in Lahr in what was then the Grand Duchy of Baden in the Upper Rhine Plain of present-day southwestern Germany. He was the only son of Gerty Wankel (née Heidlauff) and Rudolf Wankel, a forest assessor. His father died in World War I. Thereafter, the family moved to Heidelberg. He went to high schools in Donaueschingen, Heidelberg, and Weinheim, and left school without Abitur in 1921. He learned the trade of purchaser at the Carl Winter Press in Heidelberg and worked for the publishing house until June 1926. He and some friends had already run an unofficial afterwork machine shop in a backyard shed in Heidelberg since 1924. Wankel was now determined to receive unemployment benefits and to focus on the machine shop. One of his friends, who had grad