George H. Heilmeier

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from George Heilmeier)
Jump to: navigation, search
George H. Heilmeier
Born (1936-05-22) May 22, 1936 (age 77)
Residence United States
Nationality American
Fields Electrical engineering
Alma mater Princeton University
Notable awards IEEE Medal of Honor
George H. Heilmeier

George Harry Heilmeier (born May 22, 1936) is an American engineer and businessman, who was a pioneering contributor to liquid crystal displays and is inducted in the National Inventors Hall of Fame and credited with the invention of LC-Display. Heilmeier's work is an IEEE Milestone.[1]


Heilmeier was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School there, 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[edit]

A set of questions credited to Heilmeier that anyone proposing a research project or product development effort should be able to answer.[2]

  • 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[edit]

Selected publications[edit]

  • 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.


  1. ^ "Milestones: Liquid Crystal Display, 1968". IEEE Global History Network. IEEE. Retrieved August 4, 2011. 
  2. ^ [1] credits these observations to G. Heilmeier, "Some Reflections on Innovation and Invention," Founders Award Lecture, National Academy of Engineering, Washington, D.C., Sept. 1992.
  3. ^ "John Scott Award Recipients 1991-2000". John Scott Award Advisory Committee. Retrieved February 22, 2012. 
Government offices
Preceded by
Steve J. Lukasik
Director of DARPA
1975 – 1977
Succeeded by
Robert R. Fossum