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George H. Heilmeier
Born May 22, 1936 (1936-05-22) (age 73)
Residence United States
Nationality American
Fields Electrical engineering
Notable awards IEEE Medal of Honor

George Harry Heilmeier (born May 22, 1936) is an American engineer and businessman, who was a pioneering contributor to liquid crystal displays.

Contents

Biography

Heilmeier was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, received his BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and his M.S.E., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in solid state materials and electronics from Princeton University.

In 1958 Heilmeier joined RCA Laboratories in Princeton, New Jersey, where he worked on parametric amplification, tunnel diode down-converters, millimeter wave generation, ferroelectric thin film devices, organic semiconductors and electro-optic effects in molecular and liquid crystals. In 1964 he discovered several new electro-optic effects in liquid crystals, which led to the first working liquid crystal displays based on what he called the dynamic scattering mode (DSM).

Heilmeier spent much of the 1970s in the United States Department of Defense. From 1970-71 he served as a White House Fellow and special assistant to the Secretary of Defense, performing long-range research and development planning. In 1971 he was appointed Assistant Director for Defense Research and Engineering, Electronic and Physical Sciences, overseeing all research and exploratory development in electronics and the physical sciences. In 1975 he was named Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and initiated major efforts in stealth aircraft, space-based lasers, space-based infrared technology, and artificial intelligence.

In December 1977 Heilmeier left government to become vice president at Texas Instruments; in 1983 he was promoted to Chief Technical Officer. From 1991-1996 he was president and CEO of Bellcore (now Telcordia), ultimately overseeing its sale to Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). He served as the company's chairman and CEO from 1996-1997, and afterwards as its chairman emeritus.

Heilmeier has received numerous awards, holds 15 patents, and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the Defense Science Board, and the National Security Agency Advisory Board. He serves on the board of trustees of Fidelity Investments and of Teletech Holdings, and the Board of Overseers of the School of Engineering and Applied Science of the University of Pennsylvania.

Heilmeier's Catechism

A set of questions credited to Heilmeier that anyone proposing a research project or product development effort should be able to answer.

  • What are you trying to do? Articulate your objectives using absolutely no jargon.
  • How is it done today, and what are the limits of current practice?
  • What's new in your approach and why do you think it will be successful?
  • Who cares?
  • If you're successful, what difference will it make?
  • What are the risks and the payoffs?
  • How much will it cost?
  • How long will it take?
  • What are the midterm and final "exams" to check for success?

Selected awards

Selected publications

  • 1966 "Possible Ferroelectric Effects in Liquid Crystals and Related Liquids" (Williams, R. and Heilmeier, G. H.), Journal of Chemical Physics, 44: 638.
  • 1968 "Dynamic Scattering: A New Electrooptic Effect in Certain Classes of Nematic Liquid Crystals" (with Zanoni, L. A. and Barton, L. A.), Proceedings of the IEEE, 56: 1162.
  • 1970 "Liquid Crystal Display Devices", Scientific American, 222: 100.
  • 1976 "Liquid Crystal Displays: An Experiment in Interdisciplinary Research that Worked", IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices, ED-23: 780.

References

Government offices
Preceded by
Steve J. Lukasik
Director of DARPA
1975 – 1987
Succeeded by
Robert R. Fossum
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