Roland W. Schmitt

Roland W. Schmitt
Roland W. Schmitt
Associated organizations
General Electric (GE)
IEEE Founders Medal


Dr. Roland W. Schmitt became the 16th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on March 1, 1988. Previously, he was senior vice president for science and technology for GE and a member of GE's Corporate Executive Council. From 1978 to 1986, he directed the GE Research and Development Center in Schenectady, New York, one of the world's largest and most diversified industrial laboratories.

Dr. Schmitt's many years as a statesman in science and technology policy are reflected in a long list of awards, honors, and current and past activities.

Dr. Schmitt is a member and past chairman (1984-1988) of the National Science Board (NSB), the policy-making body of the National Science Foundation. He is chairman of the Council on Research and Technology (CORETECH), which advocates strong federal policy for research and development. He is chairman of the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment's advisory panel on American Industry and the Environment: Issues for Trade and Competitiveness. He is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Council on Competitiveness and a member of the U.S. Department of Commerce Advisory Commission on Patent Law Reform.

Dr. Schmitt is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, and a foreign associate of the Engineering Academy of Japan. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Physical Society, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Schmitt is past president and a former director of the Industrial Research Institute. He is a past member of the governing board of the American Institute of Physics and a past member of the Energy Research Advisory Board of the U.S. Department of Energy. Dr. Schmitt has served on panels for NASA, the National Bureau of Standards, the National Research Council, and the Office of Technology Assessment. From 1989 to 1991, he headed a National Research Council study of U.S. export-control policies.

A native of Seguin, Texas, Dr. Schmitt earned undergraduate degrees in physics and mathematics and a master's degree from the University of Texas. He earned a doctorate in physics from Rice University. He joined GE in 1951. Dr. Schmitt holds honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Union College, Lehigh University, the University of South Carolina, and the Universite de Technologie de Compiegne.

Dr. Schmitt was awarded the 1992 IEEE Founders Medal "For leadership in addressing competitiveness challenges, and for outstanding contributions to technology transfer."