Computer technology

Schmidt will be honored for his achievements in computing and music

William “Bill” Schmidt of Wichita is the 2022 recipient of Bethel College’s Distinguished Achievement Award, which recognizes character and citizenship, achievement in a chosen profession or vocation, and work for the benefit of humanity.

You could say that Schmidt works as a translator – only the “languages” he translates are “human” and “computer”.

The award will be presented at the Alumni Banquet on October 9 as part of Bethel’s annual Fall Festival.

Schmidt is the principal compiler engineer in Intel Corporation’s development software engineering group, a position he assumed earlier this year after working for IBM for 29 years.

For most of those years, he and his family (wife and “college sweetheart” Lori Voran and daughters Rebecca and Rochelle) lived in Rochester, Minnesota.

In 2021, Bill and Lori moved to Wichita to be closer to aging parents.

Bill grew up in North Newton as a “campus kid”. “Anyone with a lot of Bethel history probably knows my parents, Hartzel and Ilene Schmidt,” he says.

“Dad passed away in 2021 at the age of 95 after a full and humorous life. He ran the BC Business Office in the 1960s and 1970s.

“Mom personally ran the college from her fiefdom in front of Harold Schultz – at least that was the rumor among many students and faculty. In fact, she was “only” his very effective secretary, who guarded the entrance to the inner sanctum. She held the same position for several other presidents after the departure of Dr. Schultz.

Ilene Schmidt and Lori’s father, Omar Voran, now live at Kidron Bethel Village in North Newton.

Bill Schmidt identifies with the Bethel class of 1982, although it took him until 1984 to complete his classes, when he graduated with a BA with a double major in math and music.

“Throughout my time at Bethel, I wavered between majoring in music and majoring in math/computer science,” he says, “until I found myself with almost enough credits for both, but not enough for either.”

He and Lori married in 1982, and Bill began working full-time for Kansas Gas & Electric as a COBOL programmer while taking one course per semester to complete his bachelor’s degree.

After a few years of programming, he decides to go back to school for his doctorate. He received a National Science Foundation Fellowship and attended Iowa State University, Ames.

“Professor Arnold Wedel was extremely happy that I chose his alma mater,” says Schmidt. “I got my master’s degree in 1991 and my Ph.D. in 1992. [both in computer science] and went to work at IBM in Rochester.

Schmidt was a vocal major at Bethel, and after moving to Rochester he began to “reengage in some musical pursuits”.

He has sung with the Rochester Choral Arts Ensemble, a select 40-voice choir, and the Rochester Aria Group, which has given opera recitals, and has also served on the boards of both organizations.

“One of the highlights of my ‘career’ as an amateur musician was being asked to return to Bethel a few years ago to sing the baritone solos in Orff’s Carmina Burana for the annual Masterworks concert with the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra. It was an immense pleasure that I will never forget. »

Schmidt was also a board member of the Rochester Duplicate Bridge Club. “I enjoyed playing competitive doubles bridge for many years,” he says, “although I have to admit my severe limitations.

“That’s another skill that was born in Bethel, playing with Arnold Wedel, Richard Rempel and a few other students from Arnold’s office during the occasional lunch hour.”

Working at IBM, Schmidt held a variety of positions, most recently senior technical staff member and toolchain architect for Linux on Power. Then, after almost 30 years, he “felt a need for a change of scenery” and joined Intel.

As a lead compiler engineer, Schmidt develops tools called “optimization compilers” used by software developers who write code for Intel’s CPU and GPU architectures.

“If you have a computer running Windows, chances are there are applications on your computer that were developed using these compilers,” he says.

A compiler, he explains, is “a special type of program that translates programs that human beings understand into programs that computers understand.

“People use high-level languages ​​like Java, C++, Python, Fortran, SYCL, etc. to express what they want computers to do. But computers only understand encodings of binary digits – zeros and ones. The compiler is responsible for converting high-level concepts into low-level machine instructions.

“An ‘optimizing compiler’ attempts to make the translated program as efficient as possible given one or more chosen metrics, usually speed, size, and power consumption.

“What I love about the field is that the problems we solve are always difficult and require creative thinking to meet any constraints.”

Starting in 1992 at IBM, Schmidt worked on compilers throughout his career, both proprietary and open source compilers.

He contributed to 85 issued patents, mostly 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.

Since 2006, Schmidt has been a member of Bethel’s STEM Advisory Board. In 2020, he started serving on a small committee to help design Bethel’s new software development major.

He co-taught an independent study course with John Thiesen in January 2020, although, he says, “most of all it reminded me of how hard work teaching is and how grateful I am to the people who do it well.

Bill and Lori Schmidt’s two daughters, Becky and Rochelle, live in St. Paul, Minnesota, where Becky is a customer relations coordinator for Kansas City-based Examinetics, as well as a paramedic and fitness trainer. part-time fitness, and Rochelle is a mortgage fraud investigator for Wells Fargo.

Bill continues to work remotely for Intel, while Lori is retired as medical administrative support staff, first at Mayo Clinic and later at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, but remains busy volunteering for the American Red Cross.

Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Recognized for its academic excellence, Bethel ranks 14th in the Washington Monthly list of “best undergraduate colleges” for 2022-23. Bethel is the only college or university in Kansas to be named a Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) campus center. For more information see