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News Release 02-030

Erich Bloch Honored With Vannevar Bush Award for Long-running Contributions to S&T

April 24, 2002

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The National Science Board (NSB) has named Erich Bloch for its highest award for scientific achievement and statesmanship.

Bloch is a Principal of The Washington Advisory Group, a distinguished fellow at the Council on Competitiveness, a former National Science Foundation (NSF) director, and an outspoken supporter of fundamental research in leading innovation.  He will receive the 2002 Vannevar Bush Award on May 7 in Washington, D.C. in tribute to his long-standing reputation in research and innovation, and his senior statesman status in science and engineering.

Bloch, a standout electrical engineer at IBM early in his career, was a key figure responsible for IBM's STRETCH Computer Systems Engineering project and in the groundbreaking developments of the IBM 360.  Charged with the technology for the IBM Systems 360, Bloch's accomplishments on the system revolutionized the computer industry and led to Bloch's 1985 National Medal of Technology.

"Erich Bloch is a visionary innovator of enormous stature - in both high technology for the private sector - and in the organization and objectives of science and engineering research, and science and mathematics education programs funded by the Federal government.  He has been an exceptionally effective communicator of the benefits of public funding for science and technology, and a leader in establishing widely emulated mechanisms for productive partnerships in research and education across public, academic and private sectors," Eamon Kelly, NSB chair, said.

In his six-year term (1984-1990) as NSF director - NSF's only director from industry - Bloch built national support for advances in high-performance computing and networking.  Bloch's bold step in transitioning the NSFNET to a commercialized Internet has had immense economic and societal impact from the 1990s to today.  He also established NSF's Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate.

Bloch's creation of NSF engineering research centers and science and technology centers reflected his belief in knowledge transfer - to bring together university scientists with appropriate industry researchers to extend the benefits of fundamental research to industry, and to provide added educational benefits.

In education, Bloch also oversaw NSF's support of system wide reform for K-12 math and science education.  During his tenure, the budget for education and human resources more than tripled, and NSF's overall budget increased from $1.3 to 2.0 billion.

As a distinguished fellow with the Council on Competitiveness, a private organization, Bloch continues to promote policies that allow the effective use of innovation in the development of the U.S. economy.  The council brings together a cross-section of American business, labor and universities to advance U.S. economic competitiveness.

Bloch is also a member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).

The National Science Board established the Vannevar Bush Award in 1980 to commemorate NSF's 30th anniversary.  The award honors an individual with long-standing scientific achievement and "statesman" status in the community who, through public service activities in science and technology, makes outstanding contributions to the nation and humankind.  Bloch will be the Bush award's 24th recipient.


Media Contacts
Bill Noxon, NSF, (703) 292-8070, email:

Program Contacts
Susan Fannoney, NSF, (703) 292-8096, email:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2017, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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