Dr. Curtis R. Carlson

Jun 6, 2008

President and Chief Executive Officer of SRI International, Menlo Park, California

Dr. Curtis R. CarlsonPresident and Chief Executive Officer of SRI International, Menlo Park, California
Honorary Doctor of Science
Before there was a Silicon Valley, Google or even Oracle, the country turned to SRI in California to sort through and define the modern technologies of the day.  Originally called the Stanford Research Institute, SRI was founded in 1946 as a means of stimulating the West Coast economy.  Stanford University spun off the venture into a not-for-profit research center in the 1960s and renamed it SRI International.  Since then, thousands of ideas -- such as the early origin of the Internet, Tide dishwashing detergent, malaria medicine, the computer mouse and speech recognition technology -- have been researched, evaluated, licensed and given a helping hand into the marketplace.
Prominent technologist Dr. Curtis R. Carlson is president and chief executive officer of SRI International.  Thanks to his leadership, and the academic and technology dream team that he manages at SRI, our lives are better due to the advances, products and opportunities provided by today’s innovations.
Born in 1945, Dr. Carlson earned a bachelor’s degree in Physics from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in 1967 and master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Rutgers University in 1973.  He joined RCA Laboratories in 1973 and participated in research and development in the field of imaging.  RCA Laboratories became part of SRI in 1987 as Sarnoff Corp. 
Dr. Carlson started and helped lead the high-definition television (HDTV) program that became the U.S. standard.  As head of Ventures and Licensing at Sarnoff, he helped found more than 12 new companies.  In 1997, his team won an Emmy Award for outstanding technical achievement for Sarnoff.  Another team that he started and led won an Emmy Award for Sarnoff in 2000 for a system that measures broadcast image quality.
In 2007, he was named chairman of Sarnoff's Board of Directors. He has been on numerous public and private boards, including Nuance Communications (computer speech recognition), Pyramid Vision (computer vision), Sensar (iris biometric identification) and Sarif (LCD displays).
Of special note for Kettering University, he is a member of the Science and Technology Advisory Board for corporate partner, General Motors.  He also serves as co-chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Singapore National Research Foundation. 
In 2007, Carlson was given the Medal of Excellence Award for Alumni Lifetime Achievement by Rutgers’ School of Engineering and the Herbert F. Taylor Alumni Award for Distinguished Service by WPI.  In 2006, he won the Otto Schade Prize for Display Performance and Image Quality from the Society for Information Display with Dr. Roger Cohen. In 2002, he received the Dr. Robert H. Goddard Award from WPI for his professional achievements. Carlson was a visiting distinguished scientist at the University of Washington in 1998. He is a Kobe ambassador for SRI International’s contributions to Kobe, Japan.
Carlson has served on many government task forces, including the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory Technical Assessment Board and the Defense Science Board task force on bio-chemical defense.  He was a member of the original team that helped create the Army's Federated Laboratories.  He was a founding member of the National Information Display Laboratory at Sarnoff, which was a new model for government-industry technology development and commercialization and later grew into the National Technology Alliance.
Carlson has published or presented more than 50 technical publications and holds fundamental patents in the fields of image quality, image coding and computer vision. He has written a book with William Wilmot titled “Innovation: The Five Disciplines for Creating What Customers Want,” published in 2006 by Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House.
He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Sigma Xi and Tau Beta Pi.  He played the violin professionally at 15 and it remains his primary avocation.