Computer Science Pioneer Bjarne Stroustrup to Receive the 2018 Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering


Wed, January 03, 2018

Washington, DC, January 03, 2018 —

The National Academy of Engineering announced today that the 2018 Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering will be awarded to Bjarne Stroustrup “for conceptualizing and developing the C++ programming language.” The $500,000 annual award is given to engineers whose accomplishments have significantly benefited society.

The Draper Prize will be presented at a gala dinner event in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018.

“Bjarne Stroustrup’s creation of the C++ programming language has had a monumental, singular influence on the field of computing,” said NAE President C. D. Mote, Jr. “I am honored to bestow upon Bjarne Stroustrup this year’s Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering for C++. His creation reminds our society of the extraordinary impact that an outstanding engineer can  have on our world.”

Though invisible to the general public, billions of people indirectly use C++ every day.  Pervasive in computerized systems everywhere, the Google search engine is written in C++ as is most of Google’s supporting infrastructure. The communications parts of smartphones are in C++ as well as much of the telecommunication systems that connect them. C++ is key to many of tools of the movie industry and the higher levels of the Mars Rover software. C++ libraries underlie the current efforts in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and autonomous vehicles.

Indeed, C++ is one of computing’s most influential programming languages. At Bell Labs, Stroustrup developed it in response to the dual challenges of achieving optimal performance and handling complexity for distributed systems.  The C++ programming language is based on the C programming language, adding powerful abstraction mechanisms without compromising C’s ability to effectively use hardware resources.   C++’s combination of expressiveness and efficiency surpasses that of other programming languages, making it a popular choice for complex tasks with resource constraints such as game engines, database implementations, control systems, financial services, graphics, networking, and web servers.  C++ is now used by approximately 4.5 million programmers around the world and has revolutionized numerous applications — from web services like Google and Facebook to medical systems such as CAT scanners and blood analyses.

Stroustrup is a managing director in the technology division of Morgan Stanley in New York City, as well as a visiting professor in computer science at Columbia University.  Stroustrup continues to commit himself to computer science research, including the further development of C++, distributed systems, design, programming techniques, and software development tools.  He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Cambridge University, where he is an honorary fellow of Churchill College.  Stroustrup was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2004.

The Draper Prize was established in 1988 at the request of the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Inc., Cambridge, Mass., to honor the memory of “Doc” Draper, the “father of inertial navigation,” and to increase public understanding of the contributions of engineering and technology. The prize is awarded biennually.


Founded in 1964, the U.S. National Academy of Engineering is a private, independent, nonprofit institution that provides engineering leadership in service to the nation. Its mission is to advance the well-being of the nation by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and by marshalling the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to the federal government on matters involving engineering and technology.

Randy  Atkins
Contact Randy Atkins
Director of Communications/Media Relations
National Academy of Engineering
Deborah M. Young
Contact Deborah M. Young
Program Officer, Awards Program
National Academy of Engineering