Oliver R. Smoot

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Oliver Reed Smoot, Jr. (born 1940) was Chairman of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) from 2001 to 2002 and President of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) from 2003 to 2004.[1] In 2011 the American Heritage Dictionary admitted his decapitalized surname, "smoot", meaning a distance of 5’7”, as one of the 10,000 new words added to their fifth edition. The term is named for Smoot from his undergraduate days when he was used as a unit of measure on the Harvard Bridge at MIT during a fraternity pledge activity.[2][3]


He received his Bachelor of Science from MIT and his Juris Doctor (law degree) from Georgetown University. Smoot, a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, graduated from MIT with the class of 1962.

Smoot gave a speech to a hearing of the House Science Committee's Subcommittee on Technology on March 20, 2000, entitled "The Role of Technical Standards in Today's Society and in the Future".

He returned to MIT on October 4, 2008 for a 50th anniversary celebration,[4] including the installation of a plaque on the bridge. Smoot was also presented with an official unit of measurement: a smoot stick.[5] On May 7, 2016 he served as the grand marshal of the parade marking the centenary of MIT's moving from Boston's Back Bay into Cambridge.[6][7]

Currently, Oliver Smoot is retired and lives in San Diego, California with his spouse Sandra Smoot. He is also a representative of the MIT Education Council.


  1. ^ "Speakers Bureau: Oliver R. Smoot". American National Standards Institute. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
  2. ^ Cornish, Audie (November 13, 2011). "Looking Up Words in a Book Not So Strange Yet". National Public Radio. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  3. ^ "American Heritage Dictionary entry". American Heritage Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  4. ^ Harris, David (October 7, 2008). "Say Hello to Mr. Smoot of Smoot Fame". Catanbrigia. Archived from the original on September 7, 2017. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  5. ^ "Smoot and roll". New Scientist (2671). August 27, 2008. Retrieved January 27, 2015.
  6. ^ Annear, Steve (January 25, 2016). "MIT to host 'Moving Day' parade and celebration". Boston Globe. Retrieved January 25, 2016.
  7. ^ Fleming, Nicole (May 7, 2016). "By land and by water, MIT celebrates 100 years in Cambridge". Boston Globe. Retrieved May 9, 2016.

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