David J. Smukowski
Chief Executive Officer, Sensors in Motion
Managing Director, IntiGroup
David J. Smukowski is just getting started. After semi-retiring three years ago, he now is working to change global systems that prevent people from having enough food, safe water, education, jobs and a healthy environment. His goal is to initiate financing of large-scale infrastructure or job-related projects that focus on the sustainability of global resources in third-world countries. To do this, he will uphold the Wisconsin Idea and leverage universities, government and business to influence and improve lives outside of classrooms. “This achievement award is an inspiration to me and, hopefully, to other younger engineers to leverage their talents into large solutions for humanity,” Smukowski says.
It has taken a lifetime to assemble the skills and connections necessary to literally change the world. Smukowski grew up in Muskego, Wisconsin, part of a close-knit family of seven. In high school, he worked second shift at a factory to save money for UW-Madison, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering.
After graduating in 1978, he settled in Seattle, Washington, and began working for Boeing Company. He rose to the executive ranks quickly in research, design, energy and environmental affairs, business strategy, mergers and acquisitions.
Throughout his career, he chaired various trade groups and company boards. He assisted in drafting major environmental legislation and worked as a lobbyist and advisor to the White House. He was recognized as U.S. Congress Employee of Excellence in 1988. After a two-year secondment at Berkshire Hathaway as president of flight safety, Smukowski became managing director of Boeing Ventures, where he guided and supported entrepreneurs. He launched Exostar, a business e-commerce leader, and various other business ventures.
Smukowski is currently involved with several investment groups and is the CEO of Sensors in Motion, a Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology spin-off that creates sophisticated microelectromechanical sensors.
He belongs to multiple civic groups, including the Boys and Girls Club, Initiative for Global Development, Catholic Relief Services and advisory boards for engineering and business at UW-Madison and the University of Washington. As a lifelong citizen activist, Smukowski has led a variety of nonprofit organizations focused on leadership, youth, environment, transportation, AIDS orphans and poverty.
With his wife, Patricia, Smukowski has two daughters. Caitlin is studying biology at the University of Pennsylvania. Anna is studying finance at New York University.