Of all the recognition Martin Arlitt has received, the most telling is the one he earned after graduate school. A hardcore hockey nut, Arlitt acquired the dubious distinction as the player who tried out the most times for the university’s hockey team. Arlitt never made the cut, but his record did land him a job at Hewlett-Packard. “The guy at HP checked out my web page and saw my hockey record,” Arlitt recalls. “He thought I was tenacious and hired me.”
Since starting work for HP more than a decade ago, Arlitt has helped Fortune 500 companies design and improve their Internet services. “I’m a problem solver,” he says of his computer work, which includes helping ecommerce sites handle more traffic without spending more money. “A lot of my colleagues use these high-end
mathematical models to solve problems,” he notes, “when often a rubber band and a piece of bubble gum approach can do the same thing.”
That pragmatism stems from Arlitt’s rural Saskatchewan roots. His father was the town’s handyman, so growing up he quickly became apt at tackling tricky car and home repairs. “That’s where I learned to innovate,” he says. Arlitt holds six patents and has more than 17 still pending – all relating to computers. He also boasts an impressive research record that includes 18 journal papers, 19 conference papers and one book chapter. In 2001, Arlitt’s big brain brought him to the University of Calgary, where he networks and continues his work for HP. “The best part of my job is getting to investigate everything considered leading edge,” he says.
Finance chair, ACM
World Wide Web