Senator John Heinz

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The Heinz Awards

1998

Ralph E. Gomory

Dr. Ralph E. Gomory receives the Heinz Award in Technology, the Economy and Employment for the rare combination of his personal contributions to the advancement of science and his reasoned analysis about the value of new technology to the economy and society.

Trained as a mathematician, Dr. Gomory first became a researcher and then an executive at IBM. Through his own research he created new areas of applied mathematics and later, both participated in and oversaw, the development of a broad range of critical new technologies. Many of the breakthroughs with which he was involved were fundamental to the advancement of the information revolution. Always more than just a researcher or a manager, he was known for his insatiable curiosity about the role of technological innovation in fostering a dynamic economy.

After his immense success in the corporate world, Dr. Gomory decided to move into the philanthropic world, as head of a major science education foundation. There he has demonstrated a profound commitment to broadening our understanding of the economic importance of science and research and to enhancing the excellence of scientific education.

Ralph Gomory received his Ph.D. in mathematics from Princeton University and, while serving in the U.S. Navy, shifted his focus to applied mathematics in operations research. Among his mathematical achievements were founding contributions to the field of integer programming, an active area of research to this day. In 1959, he joined the IBM Research Division, launching a career that helped to establish that company as one of the major research institutions in the world. Just 11 years after coming to IBM, he was named Director of Research and immediately began leading the company in the development of some of the world's most exciting new products and technologies. He continued to play a leadership role for 20 years after being promoted to the position of Senior Vice President of Science and Technology.

Besides exhibiting an uncanny talent for hiring and developing the very best and brightest minds - IBM researchers were awarded three Nobel Prizes in physics on his watch - he was a committed scientist. He and his staff are credited with many fundamental contributions to advanced technology in such areas as the single-transistor memory cell, high-density storage devices, silicon processing methods, relational database theory, and the development of the personal computer.

In 1989, Dr. Gomory became President of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a foundation with a traditional interest in science, science education and technology. There, he has contributed to programs in new areas involving economic growth and industrial competitiveness. An unassuming man, Dr. Gomory has nonetheless not shied away from embracing controversy or tackling tough issues, either in his role as foundation president or in his personal economic research. At a time when conventional wisdom dictated that embattled American companies could survive only by switching industries, moving production off-shore, or seeking protection under restrictive trade laws, Dr. Gomory exemplified a different view. He played a critical role in substantiating the value of revitalizing industrial production by increasing investment, reorganizing production, applying new technologies, and learning from the competition.

Dr. Gomory is a winner of the National Medal of Science and is one of the few individuals ever elected to the councils of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. He has helped to forge a growing collaboration between engineering and social science disciplines at universities throughout America. His vision is to create centers of excellence at schools across the country, each specializing in a different technology or industry. Dr. Gomory offers an important perspective as one of the nation's clearest and most persuasive thinkers on the economic significance of technology and its development.

Note: This profile is excerpted from the commemorative brochure published at the time of the awards' presentation.


UPDATES SINCE RECEIVING THE HEINZ AWARD

January 2008 - The Alfred Sloan Foundation has announced the election of Paul Joskow as its new president, replacing Ralph Gomory, who has been president since 1989. Dr. Gomory will remain with the foundation as director of special programs.

October 2007 - Dr. Gomory's new book, Global Trade and Conflicting National Interests was co-written with noted economist, William Baumol, and has "shaken up the conventional wisdom on globalization and trade policy," according the Rochester Institute of Technology's professor of public policy, Ron Hira. - Prism Insight

June 2006 - Gomory is a lead participant in the Woodrow Wilson Center Conference, "Global Competition and Comparative Advantage: New Thinking in International Trade."

May 2004 - Gomory's Sloan Foundation receives the Public Service Award from the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME). The Sloan Foundation's major objective has been to diversify the field of engineering, and it has worked tirelessly, in partnership with the NACME, to provide minorities and women myriad opportunities to break into the technology field. - Business Wire

November 2003 - Gomory is awarded the first ever Sloan-C Medal of Honor. The award comes from the Sloan Consortium, an "association of academic institutions and organizations that share information about effective online learning." Gomory receives the medal for his "outstanding vision and sustained leadership in transforming higher education" through the use of Internet technology. - AScribe Newswire

December 2001 - Gomory is appointed to President Bush's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology. The 24-member panel has been created to carry out counterterrorism research and "to recommend long-term strategies for combating terrorism." - The Associated Press

January 2001 - Gomory co-authors a book entitled Global Trade and Conflicting National Interests with William J. Baumol. The book addresses the reality of the increasing availability of cheap labor abroad and the obstacles that outsourcing will potentially present to the national economy and job market.

May 2000 - Gomory is elected to serve on the board of directors for the Polaroid Corporation. Polaroid elected a new board of directors as it focuses on new strategies for "linking instant imaging to digital technology." - PR Newswire

Ralph E. Gomory