Meet John Walz, a Former Lucent Technologies Manager and Volunteer Extraordinaire Who Wins Richard E. Merwin Award

By Lori Cameron
Published 04/04/2019
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John Walz is congratulated by Computer Society President Cecilia Metra.
John Walz is congratulated by Computer Society President Cecilia Metra at an early 2019 Board of Governors meeting.

John Walz has enjoyed an impressive career.

And, he now joins a long line of distinguished recipients of the IEEE Computer Society Richard E. Merwin Award—given for outstanding contributions to the computer profession.

“I am deeply honored to be recognized with this important service award,” said Walz. “The prior awardees are leaders who moved the Society ahead and also mentored me to recognize the diverse talent in our volunteers. I have enjoyed partnering with others to make many contributions to strengthen the Computer Society and thus benefit IEEE.”

Learn more about Computer Society Awards.

Walz is recently retired from Lucent Technologies/AT&T where he spent more than 20 years in management and coaching, hardware and software engineering, quality planning and auditing, standards development and implementation, and strategic planning.

As a longtime volunteer leader of the Computer Society, Walz has worked with many talented individuals, including eleven IEEE presidents in all, and eight IEEE Technical Activities Board vice presidents. In fact, Walz is a past Computer Society president himself, having served in 2012, and he is a senior volunteer leader and past chair of two Board of Governors committees. His full list of leadership positions is extraordinary:

  • IEEE Division Director
  • IEEE Treasurer
  • IEEE Audit Committee
  • TAB Finance Committee
  • TAB Conference Committee
  • TAB Conference Publications Committee
  • Computer Society President, Past, Elect
  • Computer Society Technical and Conferences Activities Board VP
  • Computer Society Standards Activities VP
  • Computer Society Standards Activities Board member

Here’s our Q&A with him.

Computer Society: You have held great leadership positions. Describe your passion for volunteer leadership within IEEE and its Computer Society.

Walz: Serving my profession is an honor. I am proud to be associated with the Society’s leadership teams as we work to support our profession and have an international impact on our communities.

Working with other volunteers on problems and solutions is very satisfying as it increases my knowledge of technical, social, and management areas.

Computer Society: Why do you do it?

Walz: I like solving problems for the team’s success with their objectives. My team contributions have the usual engineering methods: problem statement, an outline of facts and options, research with a focus on both the quantitative and qualitative, story presentation with tabular facts, collaboration, feedback, revision, and publication.

“Serving my profession is an honor. I am proud to be associated with the Society’s leadership teams as we work to support our profession and have an international impact on our communities.”

Computer Society: You’ve worked in the private sector for a long time. How do you balance your volunteerism and full-time work?

Walz: Industry has several interests in the Society’s outputs: novel approaches, best practices, and technology integration with competitors’ products (e.g. standards). Conferences provided the first two outputs which got the attention of my management. The third output resulted in supported travel to standards meetings, later to a full-time special assignment, and even later to my consulting business after retirement.

Computer Society: What’s the most valuable career advice you’ve learned during your early years and now during your retirement stage?

Walz: As a member of a technical team, reach out to gather novel approaches that challenge the team and its manager.

Advise your manager on best practices to gain a competitive advantage.

Alert senior management on current interest from your competitors.

Engage in continual volunteer service to build trust with your community, reveal lessons learned, and show a better strategic direction.

Computer Society: Of all the achievements your award celebrates, which is the most meaningful and why?

Walz: I recognize the support I have received from over a hundred volunteer leaders, to fulfill my various roles with team deliverables so that others after me can build and grow the Society.

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Read more about the Richard E. Merwin Award, including past participants. 



About Lori Cameron

Lori Cameron is Senior Writer for IEEE Computer Society publications and digital media platforms with over 20 years extensive technical writing experience. She is a part-time English professor and winner of two 2018 LA Press Club Awards. Contact her at Follow her on LinkedIn.