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Erich Bloch presently balances a dual career, serving as both a Distinguished Fellow at the Council on Competitiveness and Distinguished Visiting Professor at George Mason University. Prior to his appointment at the Council on Competitiveness, a nonprofit and private organization, Bloch held the position of Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) from 1984 to 1990. During his tenure as Director of the NSF, his responsibilities ranged from strengthening the national scientific and engineering potential to improving the quality of science and engineering education. During that time, the mission of the NSF was also to focus on including minorities and women in all phases of education, research, and management within the Foundation.
Bloch began his education in electrical engineering at the Federal Polytechnic Institute of Zurich, Switzerland; and received his Bachelor of Science degree within the same discipline from the University of Buffalo in 1952. He also pursued graduate studies in engineering at Syracuse University form 1952 to 1955.
1952 marked the beginning of Bloch’s career in electrical engineering when he joined IBM Corporation. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, he became the engineering manager of IBM’s STRETCH supercomputer system. Then in 1962 he headed the development of the Solid Logic Technology program that provided IBM with microelectric technology for its System/360 computer. Subsequently, Bloch was appointed as vice president of IBM’s Data Systems Division and general manager of the East Fishkill facility, which is responsible for the development and manufacture of semiconductor components used in IBM’s product line. Thereafter, he was elected as IBM corporate Vice President for Technical Personnel in 1981.
From 1981 to 1984, Bloch served as chairman of the Semiconductor Research Cooperative, a group of leading computer and electronics firms that fund advanced research in universities and shares in the results, and became the IBM representative on the board of the Semiconductor Industry Association.
Among his many accolades are the National Medal of Technology awarded to him by President Reagan in 1985 for his work on the IBM System/360, the 1989 IEEE United States Activities Board Award for Distinguished Public Service, the 1990 IEEE Founders Medal, and the 1996 Furnas Memorial Award of the University of Buffalo Alumni Association. He has also been awarded with several honorary degrees including Doctorate of Engineering degrees from the Colorado School of Mines, the University of Notre Dame, Polytechnic University, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; honorary Doctorate of Science degrees from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, George Washington University, State University of New York at Buffalo, the University of Rochester, Oberlin College, and Washington College; and an honorary Doctorate of Science and Engineering degree from the Ohio State University.
Bloch served as a member of the NAE Council from 1991 to 1997. He holds eight patents and in 1961 received the IBM patent award for his innovations within the computer field.