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Bill Wulf is remembered and revered by the National Academies community for his service as NAE president from 1996-2007. He was a dynamic advocate of the critical role of engineering and technology in quality of life, in national and homeland security, and in globally sustainable development. He was a tireless promoter of the US engineering research enterprise as essential to the nation’s economic well-being and global competitiveness. He eloquently made the case for more diverse representation in the engineering community writ large. And, recognizing the need for active consideration of ethics in engineering, he brought an online ethics center to the NAE’s website, a resource that became a full-fledged program.
Bill’s greatest passion was for efforts to galvanize the engineering education community to consider ways to improve the education of the next generation of engineers, and he expanded the NAE’s programmatic activities across a broad spectrum of issues. He promoted international engagement through the Frontiers of Engineering program, supported outreach and diversity through the creation of the EngineerGirl program, encouraged public understanding of engineering through the publication of A Century of Innovation, which celebrates the 20 greatest engineering achievements of the twentieth century, and initiated the effort to identify the Grand Challenges for Engineering in the twenty-first century.
Bill was elected to the NAE in 1993 “for professional leadership and for contributions to programming systems and computer architecture,” having distinguished himself in academia as a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Virginia, in the federal government as the National Science Foundation’s Assistant Director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering, and in entrepreneurship as cofounder—with his wife, NAE member Anita Jones—of Tartan Labs, a compiler technology company that was purchased by Texas Instruments.
The NAE and the engineering community at large owe Bill a great debt of gratitude. His legacy lives on.