Roy Smith is a Professor in the Automatic Control Laboratory at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH, Zurich) in Switzerland. From 1990 to 2010 he was on the faculty of the Electrical Engineering Dept. at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He received his undergraduate education at Canterbury University in New Zealand (1980) and a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology (1990). Before starting his Ph.D. he worked in industry on: power system design, energy optimisation, high-energy linear accelerator instrumentation, and retrofit automotive air/fuel ratio control.

He has held visiting faculty positions during sabbaticals at: UC Berkeley, Indian Institute of Science, Cambridge University, UK, and the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm.

His research interests include: the identification and control of uncertain systems, and distributed estimation, communication and control systems. His application experience includes: process control, automotive engines, flexible space structures, aeromanoeuvring Mars entry vehicles, formation flying of spacecraft, magnetically levitated bearings, high energy accelerator control, airborne wind energy, and energy control for buildings. He has been a long time consultant to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory on guidance, navigation and control aspects of interplanetary and deep space science spacecraft.


  • Fellow of the International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC), 2020.

  • Plenary speaker: IFAC 2018 Symposium on System Identification.

  • Life Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), 2011 (Life sentence in 2024).

  • Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), 2008.

Additional activities

In 2000 Professor Smith worked with the Kanchenjunga School Project development charity, installing solar powered vaccine refrigerators in a remote region of Nepal. From 2007 to 2016 he was active with Engineers Without Borders, USA, advising a student group on engineering infrastructure designs for a remote village in Kenya. The infrastructure developed to date includes rainwater collection systems, electrification of a health clinic, borehole drilling, development of a well pump and water distribution system, and an incinerator for medical waste. Most years, between 2008 and 2016, he travelled with a team of students to a village on the shore of Lake Victoria, Kenya, to complete the installations.