Gary E. Pittman received the 2008 Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest award SMU can bestow upon its former students. Pittman and other recipients were honored at the November DAA celebration.
Pittman is a multifaceted researcher, whose discovery has transformed the electronics world and our daily lives. While working at Texas Instruments in the 1960s, he and a colleague co-invented the light emitting diode. More commonly known now as the LED, the invention led to formation of the multi-billion-dollar optical communications industry.
Other applications of LEDs include traffic lights, railroad crossing signals, exit signs and digital clocks. Their major contribution is for illumination, leading to a great reduction in energy needs.
In 1953, Pittman earned his B.S. degree in chemistry with honors from SMU, where he became a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He later took graduate courses in electronics. He has lectured and conducted seminars throughout the United States and in Mexico and London.
After leaving Texas Instruments, Pittman served as vice president for manufacturing at Spectronics Inc., director of military business at Honeywell Optoelectronics and president of SPC, Inc.
Gary E. Pittman
He currently is a consultant in statistical thinking, engaged in research including novel methods of energy reduction for homes and improved use of statistics for medical purposes. The Galton Institute in London published Pittman’s book on Sir Francis Galton, the developer of modern statistical methods. SMU’s DeGolyer Library now houses Pittman’s collection of Galton materials, the finest in the U.S.
Pittman received the Lazenby Outstanding Alumnus Award from the SMU Chemistry Department in 2008.