Distinguished Alumni Awardee 2012 - Simon Ramo (PhD '36)

Swiftly becoming prominent in electronics research and development, he received the National Medal of Science from President Carter and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Reagan. He later served as chief scientist and technical director of the nation’s highest-priority defense program, the ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) program. In the race with the USSR to achieve the first operational ICBM system, the United States won.

"Caltech’s stature equates, of course, to every Caltech alumnus feeling pride. But no alumni are ever totally at ease about whether they have in their careers fully accomplished the optimum of contributions they feel the Caltech education made attainable."

Ramo was the founder of a number of successful high-tech corporations, including TRW (Thompson Ramo Wooldridge) and Space Technology Laboratories. The latter was the world’s first firm devoted to space, as well as the first company to win a contract to develop spacecraft and the first to produce apparatus to reach the outer planets of the solar system and beyond. It produced the first communications satellite and the first military space systems. Ramo was inducted into the Business Hall of Fame and received the Smithsonian Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award and numerous other awards. High-tech business entities founded by Ramo were acquired later by General Electric, General Motors, Honeywell, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, and others.

Over a million copies of books authored by Simon Ramo have been published in nine languages, and he holds the sales record for books on tennis. An accomplished violinist, he has played duets with Jascha Heifetz.