Erich Bloch Symposium logo.
2019 Erich Bloch Symposium.

2019 Erich Bloch Symposium in Davis Hall at University at Buffalo

2021 Erich Bloch Symposium

June 7-8, 2021 | Virtual Event

This annual symposium is dedicated to the late Erich Bloch, former director of the National Science Foundation who helped endow the Department of Materials Design and Innovation at UB.


The World Through the Lens of Data: Accelerating knowledge discovery in the service of science and society

Overview Schedule Abstracts Posters About Erich Bloch

About Erich Bloch

Erich Bloch.

Erich Bloch (January 9, 1925 – November 25, 2016) was a German-born American electrical engineer and administrator. He was involved with developing IBM’s first transistorized supercomputer, 7030 Stretch, and mainframe computer, System/360. He served as director of the National Science Foundation from 1984 to 1990.

Bloch, the son of a Jewish businessman and housewife, lost his parents in the Holocaust, survived the war in a refugee camp in Switzerland and immigrated in 1948 to the United States. He studied electrical engineering at ETH Zurich and received his bachelor of science in electrical engineering from the University of Buffalo.

Bloch joined IBM after graduating in 1952. He was engineering manager of IBM’s STRETCH supercomputer system and director of several research sites during his career. In June 1984, Ronald Reagan nominated Bloch to succeed Edward Alan Knapp as director of the National Science Foundation. The same year, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences. In 1985, Bloch was awarded one of the first National Medals of Technology and Innovation along with Bob O. Evans and Fred Brooks for their work on the IBM System/360.

After stepping down as director of the National Science Foundation, Bloch joined the Council on Competitiveness as its first distinguished fellow. The IEEE Computer Society awarded him the Computer Pioneer Award in 1993 for high speed computing. In 2002, the National Science Board honored Bloch with the Vannevar Bush Award. He was made a Fellow of the Computer History Museum in 2004 “for engineering management of the IBM Stretch supercomputer, and of the Solid Logic Technology used in the IBM System/360, which revolutionized the computer industry.”

In 2014, Bloch donated $1.5 million to the University at Buffalo to establish the Erich Bloch Endowed Chair for the new Department of Materials Design and Innovation.


The 2021 Erich Bloch Symposium will be held as a free, virtual event on June 7 and 8, 2021. Renowned leaders and experts from a wide variety of areas will share their approach to developing data-driven discoveries and innovation in different disciplines, as well as explore the impact of how data and information are communicated to and perceived by the public.

About the Erich Bloch Symposium

Spurred by the endowment by UB alumnus Erich Bloch, former director of the National Science Foundation, vice president of IBM and Medal of Technology and Innovation holder, the Department of Materials Design and Innovation (MDI) was launched with the goal of establishing a new paradigm for research and education in 2015.

The inaugural Erich Bloch Symposium in 2017 helped launch MDI and since then, the annual Erich Bloch Symposium has served as a forum and has brought together renowned researchers, policymakers, industry and community leaders to explore the areas of sustainability with a focus on materials, technological innovation, and community health.

Event Start Date: June 7, 2021