About George Antoin Smith
Mr. George Antoin Smith has been a leader in engineering since he was a student at Lindblom Technical High School in Chicago in the late 1960s. He was a member of the Junior Engineers Technical Society, President of the Honors Society, an awardee of the Straight-A Scholastic S-Emblem, and recipient of a merit-based award from the Chicago Engineers Club for his academic excellence.
Mr. Smith went on to attend Purdue University, where he and 5 freshman friends from two Chicago Public Schools became the first members of a new association for Black engineering students. It was launched by upperclassmen, Edward Barnett, Fred Cooper, and a PhD candidate named Arthur J. Bond. That organization grew and on April 12th of 1975, Arthur Bond and the Chicago 6 founded NSBE, the National Society of Black Engineers. As a NSBE Co-Founder, Mr. Smith designed the SBE logo, Chaired the Publications Committee, served on the Executive Committee, and Moderated the Region III deliberations during NSBE’s First/Founding Conference.
After graduating from Purdue with a degree in Electrical Engineering, George worked in the Miniature Lamp Engineering Department of the General Electric Company. Mr. Smith developed an interest in technical sales and joined the Electronic Components Group of the Hewlett-Packard Company. There he rose from Staff Engineer, to Field Engineer, to the District Manager position. In his management role he was responsible for leading Field Engineers in five Midwestern States. In 1989 George received the highest recognition by the HP sales organization, the President’s Club Award. This most prestigious honor was presented directly to George by HP’s Founders, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. During his career, George Smith also authored two books that were published by the American Society for Quality. The book, Sales Process Engineering, authored by Dr. Paul Selden, named George A. Smith a pioneer of Sales Process Engineering.
Since his retirement in 2015, George Smith is still actively “Living the NSBE Mission”. Mr. Smith remains very busy as a STEM advocate, classroom speaker, and volunteer with a variety of youth-focused STEM organizations including NSBE Jr., Project Syncere, ChiS&E, and the Chicago Engineers Foundation to name just a few of his philanthropic pursuits. In addition, Mr. Smith worked diligently for two years to help the National Inventors Hall of Fame induct the first Black Woman Inventor into the organization's historic ranks. Because of the efforts of George Smith and the nomination team assembled by Black Women in Science & Engineering (BWISE), Dr. Patricia Bath will be posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame on May 5th, 2022.
It is a true honor to know Mr. George Smith. I first met George in 2019, when the Chicago Engineers Foundation created our history book and we found his name on a list of award recipients from the 1970s. We took a shot and contacted Mr. Smith through LinkedIn, and it turned out he was THE George Smith who received a scholarship from our organization in 1971, just before he left for Purdue. When I first met George in person a few years ago, he walked in holding the original letter he received from Chicago Engineers Foundation telling him he was a $100 scholarship recipient. He told us it was the first time someone outside of his school and community recognized his academic merit. That's a George Smith story I carry with me and love to share because it describes so much about his character.
From that first meeting, I've been a George Smith fan. He was the recipient of our organization's first Distinguished Alumni Award, and has gone on to be a member of our Associate Council as well as an active volunteer with our K-12 outreach activities.
I had the absolute honor to accompany George when he did his very first classroom visit as a Chicago Engineers Foundation volunteer. George told me later that it was his first classroom presentation. We visited an elementary school in the Lawndale neighborhood, and this school, that did not have a dedicated Science program, was blown away that a NSBE Co-Founder was coming to visit their students. George did an outstanding presentation about Black Scientists, Engineers, and Inventors in American History, a presentation he has continued to do not only with our organization, but with other nonprofits across Chicago and the country.
George Smith recently shared that his classroom presentation became the catalyst for bringing Dr. Patricia Bath's nomination to the National Inventors Hall of Fame. A young girl in that first presentation asked Mr. Smith why the portion of his presentation about the Inventors Hall of Fame did not include any women. George quickly pivoted to talk to the children about Dr. Patricia Bath, a physician and laser scientist who revolutionized cataract removal surgery by becoming the first person in the world to use a laser to remove cataracts from a human eye. George told the class that he strongly believed Dr. Patricia Bath SHOULD be in the Hall of Fame. In true George Smith fashion, he helped make that young girl's comment into a well-deserved honor for Dr. Bath.
George Smith was nominated by Debbie Birrell, Executive Director of Chicago Engineers' Foundation:
I could write on and on about George Smith, and the enduring legacy he continues to create for future generations of STEM professionals. Mr. Smith's work in the STEM field, as a mentor to younger generations, is beyond measure. It is truly my honor to nominate Mr. George A. Smith as a historic, present, and future Black STEM professional everyone should know.