National Medal of Science
For basic contributions to microwave electronics, and imaginative technical leadership in making large electronic systems available to the country for defense and civilian uses.
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BirthMay 7, 1913
Country of BirthUSA
Key ContributionsElectron Microscope
Intercontinental Ballistic Missile
Awarded byJimmy Carter
EducationUniversity of Utah
California Institute of Technology
Areas of ImpactTransportation
Other PrizesPresidential Medal of Freedom
Until he was 12, Simon Ramo wanted to be a concert violinist. But after hearing the famed Jascha Heifetz, the young Ramos decided his success might be in another direction.
That direction was science. The legendary status Ramo earned in his long career in the aerospace and defense industries is testament that he made the right decision.
Ramo earned a doctorate in electrical engineering and physics from the California Institute of Technology and in 1936 joined General Electric. There, he helped develop the electron microscope.
In 1953, Ramo and Dean Everett Wooldridge formed TRW Inc. President Dwight Eisenhower asked the pair to come up with an intercontinental ballistic missile system as the Cold War ramped up. Ramo helped develop a rocket that could carry a nuclear warhead across the globe.
TRW grew to more than 100,000 employees before being bought by Northrop Grumman Corp., and Ramo is considered one of the people who helped solidify Southern California as the epicenter for U.S. high-tech weapons research.
Ramo, who in 2013 received his last patent at age 100, also authored nearly 70 books and advised several presidents. He died in 2016 at age 103.