Illinois Tech Board Of Trustees Welcomes Back Alumnus Jim Gagnard Of Rocket Wagon Venture Studio



By Howard J. Lee

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CHICAGO—Illinois Institute of Technology welcomes Jim Gagnard (EE ’69), Life Trustee and managing director of Rocket Wagon Venture Studios, on his return to active participation on its Board of Trustees. Gagnard was elected to the Illinois Tech board back in 2007 and served as the vice chairman of the Academic Affairs Committee and as an advisor to the former College of Science. Gagnard currently serves as advisor to the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship and Armour College of Engineering, and is a member of the Facilities and Safety Committee.

“Illinois Tech’s commitment to reimagining education to produce innovative solutions and impactful tech and business leaders of tomorrow is a perfect match for Jim’s passion—and expertise—in reimagining the future of IoT,” says Raj Echambadi, president of Illinois Tech. “I look forward to working with Jim as we forge ahead together in making Illinois Tech a true opportunity engine for all.”

With more than 30 years of executive management experience leading enterprise software companies from early product development to revenue growth and profitability, Gagnard has created more than $480 million of enterprise value for venture capitalists and strategic investors. He has also raised more than $80 million for his own companies as a result of his commitment to software innovation. In 2016 Gagnard was named one of Crain’s Chicago Business’s Tech 50 leaders to know.

“A hands-on education and the encouragement to create outside-the-box solutions fueled my innovative spirit and set the technical foundation for my career,” says Gagnard. “As a trustee, I hope to continue fueling Chicago’s talent pipeline with generations of future-proof, market-ready tech innovators and business leaders.”

Gagnard is the managing director of Rocket Wagon Venture Studios, a venture studio focused on identifying high-value IIoT solutions, supporting entrepreneurs who created them, and accelerating the successful commercialization of their solutions.

Gagnard served as chairman and CEO of SmartSignal Corporation from 2004 to 2011, when it was acquired by General Electric Intelligent Platforms. The SmartSignal Advanced Analytics product suite is a key component of the IoT ecosystem and is used by power generation companies, oil and gas companies, and other industries to detect, diagnose, predict, and mitigate equipment failure.

“Jim is a great example of the entrepreneurial mindset we aim to impart in our graduates,” says Michael P. Galvin (LAW ‘78), chairman of the Illinois Tech Board of Trustees. “We are excited to welcome back someone with such a well-rounded background onto the board, and I look forward to working with Jim to help our university fulfill its founding purpose to liberate the power of difference by advancing technology and progress for all.”

Prior to leading entrepreneurial companies in the Silicon Valley, Gagnard held senior management positions with Pansophic Systems, Control Data, and IBM. He has lived in Brussels, where he served as the general manager of Control Data’s remote computing service, and in London, where he served as the vice president of Pansophic Systems’s European operations.

Gagnard currently serves on the Board of Directors of Vertex Analytics and A3 Solutions. He also serves as a venture partner of Hyde Park Venture Partners and as a board member of the Mies van der Rohe Society and the Private Directors Association.

“Jim’s diverse steering roles in the community embodies the kind of commitment to the culture of philanthropy and community engagement we are fostering here at Illinois Tech,” says Ernie Iseminger, vice president of advancement at Illinois Tech. “Jim’s fearless approach to the future of IoT as well as his success as an entrepreneur and technologist instill great confidence during these uncertain times.”

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Illinois Institute of Technology, also known as Illinois Tech, is a private, technology-focused research university. Illinois Tech is the only university of its kind in Chicago, and its Chicago location offers students access to the world-class resources of a great global metropolis. It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, computing, architecture, business, design, science and human sciences, and law. One of 22 institutions that comprise the Association of Independent Technological Universities, Illinois Tech provides an exceptional education centered on active learning, and its graduates lead the state and much of the nation in economic prosperity. Illinois Tech uniquely prepares students to succeed in professions that require technological sophistication, an innovative mindset, and an entrepreneurial spirit. Visit

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