George Schmidt

IEEE Life Fellow, IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society

Q: What inspired you to become an engineer? Were you always interested in technology? If so, why? If not, when did you become interested and why?

A: I became interested in technology and then especially in airplanes because we lived near Newark Airport. So, as a little kid, I was fascinated with these airplanes droning overhead every day with their propeller noises. But, the big thing that spurred my interest was the launch of Sputnik in 1957. I was a sophomore in high school, and I had an early morning paper route –  like 6 in the morning or so – October ‘57. It was kind of dark at that time of morning and I couldn’t believe I was watching this satellite go overhead. So I got excited about it and I talked to my uncle about it and I said, “how do I get into that business?” and he says, “well to get into space you’ve got to go through the atmosphere and so it sounds to me like aeronautics would be a good place for you to go, but don’t forget about electrical engineering.”