Drzewiecki left Poland early in life to complete his education in France. With a knack for creativity and invention, he invented such useful tools as the kilometric counter for taxicabs. At the specific request of Grand Duke Konstantin, Drzewiecki moved to Saint Petersburg in 1873. While in Russia he made an instrument that drew the precise routes of ships onto a nautical chart.
Drzewiecki distinguished himself mainly in aviation and ship building. Beginning in 1877, during the Russo-Turkish War, he developed several models of propeller-driven submarines that evolved from single-person vessels to a four-man model. He developed the theory of gliding flight, developed a method for the manufacture of ship and plane propellers (1892), and presented a general theory for screw-propeller thrust (1920). He also developed several models of early submarines for the Russian Navy.
His work Theorie générale de l'hélice (1920), was honored by the French Academy of Science as fundamental in the development of modern propellers.