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Alumnus Bill Schindel Makes the Complex More Systematic

January 8, 2013

By Steve Kaelble

Bill Schindel felt right at home when he studied at Rose Polytechnic Institute in the 1960s, and he’s rarely strayed far from home. After graduating in 1969, he spent a short time in New York, designing airborne military systems and innovation tools for IBM Federal Systems. But, he soon returned and earned a master’s degree from the institution that had just been renamed Rose-Hulman. He has maintained close ties ever since.

             Bill Schindel

Strong Ties To Alma Mater: Bill Schindel has served Rose-Hulman as a professor, computer center director, and trustee. He also has hired several fellow alumni for his company, International Centers for Telecommunication Technology. (Photo by Chris Minnick).

In the 1970s, Schindel was involved in starting Applied Computing Devices, a Terre Haute company that supplied specialized computer systems for the telephone industry. It grew to about 170 employees before being acquired in the 1990s. At the same time, his relationship with Rose-Hulman included teaching math, electrical engineering, and computer science as a faculty member, and directing the computing center. He earned tenure status, then left to pursue other business ventures.

Maybe “left” is not the correct way to describe Schindel’s move to launch International Centers for Telecommunication Technology in 1983. That’s because the company, now ICTT System Sciences, had startup ties to Rose-Hulman, and has employed interns, faculty, and graduates.

The firm’s focus pertains to systems engineering, an increasingly important engineering field that diagnoses and cures what Schindel describes as complexity sickness. “It arose in aerospace in the 1950s,” he explains, and has since spread to other industries that have grown increasingly complex and started to suffer from the ills of disorganized system complexity, including telecommunications, health care, and the automotive industry.

As that joint venture was getting up and running, Schindel joined Rose-Hulman’s Board of Trustees in 1984, and the connection between Schindel, his company, and Rose-Hulman has been a winning combination for all parties.

In fact, the complexity ICTT deals with on a daily basis is something engineers of all stripes must be prepared to tackle. In the current career climate, Rose-Hulman is doing nicely, Schindel says, “looking for effective ways to respond to what companies say future graduates need.” The recently added master’s degree program in systems engineering is one answer to industry demands that speaks to Schindel’s interests and expertise.

“Rose-Hulman is doing a good job of strategic planning,” he adds, being impressed with how planners are using the concept of modeling to understand the institute and its relationship with the outside world. It’s a vast improvement over from-the-gut planning that is not as objective and evidence-based. “In strategic planning, it’s a way to have everybody on the same sheet of music,” he says.

Steve Kaelble is an Indianapolis-based freelance writer.