Curtis R. Carlson Professor of Practice, Northeastern University; Distinguished Executive in Residence, Worcester Polytechnic Institute; former President and CEO, SRI International


While Carlson was SRI’s CEO, its revenue more than tripled and SRI became a global model for the creation of high-value innovations, such as HDTV, Intuitive Surgical, and Siri, now on the iPhone. These innovations created tens of billions of dollars of new economic value. 

He served on President Obama’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the SAB of Taiwan, and the Board of the Singapore National Research Foundation. He helped write the 2017 National Academy report on improving the performance of NSF’s R&D and innovation centers. 

Before joining SRI, Carlson worked at RCA Laboratories, GE, and the Sarnoff Corporation. His teams have won two Emmys, one for HDTV. He has helped form over two dozen new companies. In 2006, he won the Otto Schade Prize from the Society for Information Display for his work on image quality. 

He is a “WPI Luminary,” an award given to 11 leaders over the university’s 150-year history. Carlson is a Charter Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and has received four honorary degrees. With William Wilmot he wrote Innovation, selected by BusinessWeek as a 2006 Top-10 business book. 

Practice of Innovation, LLC, works with companies, governments, and universities on improving innovative performance. Their methodology, Innovation-for-Impact (i4i), is used by companies and government agencies in the US, Sweden, Finland, Chile, China, Japan, and Taiwan. 

Carlson received his B.S. degree in physics, Tau Beta Pi, from WPI. His M.S. and Ph.D. degrees are from Rutgers University. Carlson has published and presented extensively and holds fundamental patents in the fields of image quality, image coding, and computer vision.