William “Bill” Schmidt of Wichita is the recipient of the 2022 Bethel College Distinguished Achievement Award, which recognizes character and citizenship, achievement in a chosen profession or occupation, and work that benefits humanity.
You might say that Schmidt was a translator – the only “languages” he translated were “humans” and “computers”.
The award will be presented at an alumni dinner in October. 9 As part of Bethel’s annual fall festival.
Schmidt is the lead compiler engineer for Intel’s Development Software Engineering Group, a position he assumed earlier this year after 29 years at IBM.
For most of these years, he lived in Rochester, Minnesota, with his family (spouse and “college sweetheart” Lori Wallan and daughters Rebecca and Rochelle).
In 2021, Bill and Lowry moved to Wichita to be closer to their aging parents.
Bill grew up in North Newton as a “school kid”. “Anyone with a lot of history at Bethel probably knows my parents, Hartzel and Ilene Schmidt,” he said.
“Dad passed away in 2021 at the age of 95 after a fulfilling and humorous life. He ran the BC Business Office in the 1960s and 70s.
“Mum managed the college in person from her domain in front of Harold Schultz – at least, that’s a rumor among many students and staff. In fact, she was ‘just’ his very efficient secretary, the guard She has served several other presidents in the same capacity after the Ph.D. Schultz moved on.”
Both Ilene Schmidt and Lori’s father, Omar Voran, now live in the village of Kidron Bethel in North Newton.
Bill Schmidt identified with the Bethel class of 1982, although he did not complete coursework until 1984, when he completed a bachelor’s degree with a dual degree in mathematics and music.
“I was tossing between a music major and a math/computer science major during my time at Bethel,” he said, “until I ended up getting almost enough credits, but neither.”
He and Lori married in 1982, and Bill began working full-time as a COBOL programmer at Kansas Gas & Electric while taking one class each semester to complete his bachelor’s degree.
After a few years of programming, he decided to go back to school for a Ph.D. He received a National Science Foundation Fellowship and attended Iowa State University in Ames.
“Professor Arnold Wedel is very pleased that I have chosen his alma mater,” Schmidt said. “I received my master’s degree and my Ph.D. in 1991. 1992 [both in computer science] Then go to work at IBM in Rochester. “
Schmidt, a vocal major at Bethel, began “re-engaging in some musical activities” after moving to Rochester.
He sings with the Rochester Choral Arts, a 40-member select choir, and the Rochester Aria Group, which conducts recitals from opera excerpts, and serves on the boards of both organizations.
“A few years ago, one of the highlights of my amateur music ‘vocation’ was being asked to return to Bethel to perform baritone solos at Orff’s Opera House. Carmina Branagh Annual Masterpiece Concert with the Newton Middle Kansas Symphony. That was a huge joy I will never forget. “
Schmidt is also a board member of the Rochester Double Bridge Club. “I’ve enjoyed playing competitive double bridges over the years,” he said, “although I have to admit to my serious limitations.
“It’s another skill that was born at Bethel, playing with Arnold Weddell, Richard Rempel and a few other students at the occasional lunchtime in Arnold’s office.”
While at IBM, Schmidt held various positions, most recently as a Senior Technician and Toolchain Architect for Linux on Power. Then, nearly 30 years later, he “felt the need for a change” and joined Intel.
As lead compiler engineer, Schmidt developed a tool called “optimizing compilers” for use by software developers writing code for Intel’s CPU and GPU architectures.
“If you have a computer running Windows, chances are you have applications on your computer that were developed using these compilers,” he said.
A compiler, he explained, is “a special kind of program that translates a program understood by a human into a program understood by a computer.
“People use high-level languages like Java, C++, Python, Fortran, SYCL, etc. to express what they want computers to do. But computers only understand the encoding of binary numbers — zeros and ones. Compilers are responsible for translating high-level concepts into low-level machine instructions .
“The ‘optimizing compiler’ tries to make the translated program as efficient as possible according to some chosen metric or metrics (usually one of speed, size, and power consumption).
“One of the things I like about this field is that the problems we solve are always challenging and require creative thinking to meet all the constraints.”
Beginning at IBM in 1992, Schmidt has devoted his entire career to compilers, both proprietary and open source.
He contributed 85 issued patents, mainly in the area of compiler optimization, and was named an IBM Master Inventor. He served on the Core Technology Invention Review Board for many years.
Schmidt has been a member of the Bethel STEM Advisory Committee since 2006. In 2020, he began serving on a small committee to help design Bethel’s new software development profession.
He co-taught an independent study course with John Thiesen in January 2020, though he says, “It’s mostly a reminder of the workload of teaching and how grateful I am to people who are good at teaching.”
Bill and Lori Schmidt’s two daughters, Becky and Rochelle, live in St. Petersburg. Paul, Minnesota, Becky is a customer relations coordinator at the Kansas City Test Center and a part-time paramedic and fitness instructor, and Rochelle is a mortgage fraud investigator at Wells Fargo.
Bill continued to work remotely for Intel, while Lori retired as a medical administrative support staff member, first at the Mayo Clinic and later at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, but remained busy as an American Red Cross volunteer.
Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college established in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America.Known for academic excellence, Bethel ranks 14th in the nation washington monthly 2022-23 “Best Undergraduate Schools” list. Bethel is the only college or university in Kansas to be named the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Center. For more information, visit www.bethelks.edu