J. Robert Beyster

In Memoriam: Our friend and Xconomist Bob Beyster passed away on December 22, 2014. We at Xconomy are deeply saddened by his loss.

Dr. J. Robert Beyster was the founder of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), the largest employee-owned research and engineering company in the United States. He was Chairman of the Board until his retirement in July 2004, and also served as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) until November 2003. A recognized authority on national security and reactor physics, Dr. Beyster committed 35 years of his life to building SAIC on the founding tenets of employee ownership and technical excellence. In recent years, he has extended this commitment to the American business community by founding two nonprofit organizations to assist organizations considering employee ownership—the Beyster Institute and the Foundation for Enterprise Development. Beyster received a B.S.E. in engineering and physics in 1945, a master’s degree in physics in 1947, and a doctorate in physics in 1950—all from the University of Michigan.

In 1969, Dr. Beyster raised money to start Science Applications, Inc. (SAI). The company was renamed Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) as it expanded its operations. Initially the company’s focus was on projects for the U.S. government related to nuclear power and weapons effects study programs. Contrary to traditional business models, Dr. Beyster designed SAIC so that ownership of the company and profits belonged to the company’s employees. Today, SAIC performs projects for commercial and government customers related to information technology, systems integration and eSolutions, national and homeland security, energy, the environment, space, telecommunications, health care, and logistics. When Dr. Beyster retired as Chairman and CEO of SAIC in 2004, the company had annual revenues of $6.7 billion and more than 43,000 employees.

Committed to education, Dr. Beyster has written or co-authored approximately 60 publications and reports, as well as the recent book, The SAIC Solution: How We Built an $8 Billion Employee-Owned Technology Company. A fellow of the American Nuclear Society, Dr. Beyster has served as Chairman of its Reactor Physics Division and Shielding Division. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group to the Director, Strategic Target Planning Staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a member of the National Academy if Engineering. He also serves as Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Directors of the University of California San Diego Foundation.

Defense Advanced Research Project Agency designated Dr. Beyster an Honorary Program Manager for his distinguished contributions to the agency over his career. (NEW) Throughout his career, he has been the recipient of numerous awards in Engineering Management, Entrepreneurism and leadership recognitions in both the public and private sectors. He is also the recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the University of California, San Diego’s CONNECT program for providing 25 years of outstanding service to the community. Most recently, he was honored by the Horatio Alger Association for Distinguished Americans selected Dr. Beyster to be a 2008 Horatio Alger Award recipient. This honor is bestowed upon those individuals who have overcome adversity to achieve great successes through the American free enterprise system.

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