John Schmidt ’64 found his passion at WPI. He and a group of friends created an audio-and-visual-themed club at WPI to further explore what tJohn Schmidthey learned in the classroom as electrical engineers. Fifty-four years later, Lens and Lights is still going strong. The experiences John had as a student ignited his passion for STEM fields and inspires him to give back to WPI.

For 36 years, John worked as a senior audio visual engineer for ABC. He spent most of his career designing, installing, repairing, and using professional audio and video equipment. John commuted an hour and 30 minutes each day, but never regretted the work he was fortunate to do. He retired from ABC in 2013, but hasn’t hung up his hat yet. He continues to work part-time as chief engineer for two local radio stations. Listening is his specialty—he can troubleshoot audio problems, particularly subtle ones, just by sound.

John credits WPI with his successful career and appreciates that he has had the opportunity to give back. “Making a Planned Gift through my estate to WPI was the perfect way to combine my passion for STEM education and philanthropy,” he says. “I credit WPI with a large portion of my personal and professional success and by establishing an endowed fund for WPI’s STEM Education Center, I am able to ensure that students in underrepresented locales and populations have an opportunity to share my passion, receive guidance, and pursue an education in STEM fields.”

John became a member of the Alden Society in May 2014 when he informed WPI that it was a beneficiary of his will. With his bequest, John will establish the John H. Schmidt ’64 Endowed Fund for STEM Education. John has also been a loyal supporter of the WPI Fund, giving generously every year for the last 35 years.

Always a music lover, John has been able to combine his appreciation for music with his expertise in audio engineering. He has a special place in his heart for the steelpan, a drum that originates from Trinidad. John enjoys being involved in “pan” behind the scenes—he supports pan groups working with their equipment, organizing rehearsals, and transporting musicians to rehearsals and gigs. His career in the audio-world also enabled him to record the steelpan. John could listen to this music day and night.

John credits WPI with giving him a place to explore his passion for audio and visual technology, which provided a foundation for him to discover and fulfill his professional, personal, and philanthropic goals throughout his life.