Oregon-based journalist Glen Gibbons, MA ’81, was honored with the Harold Spencer-Jones gold Medal for his “outstanding contribution to navigation” at the United Kingdom’s Royal Institute of Navigation in July. He is considered the world’s first full-time GPS/GNSS journalist.
In 1989, Gibbons was asked by his editor at Aster Publishing to start a new magazine called GPS World. Gibbons was an associate editor of a business-marketing journal for a pharmaceutical office at the time and agreed to the offer, although he didn’t know what GPS was. He spent the next several years as a GPS/GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) reporter. In 2005, he cofounded the trade journal Inside GNSS with his wife Eliza Schmidkunz, BS ’95.
“I was delighted,” Gibbons says after he learned he would be honored at the Royal Geographical Society in London. Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth II, presented Gibbons with the medal. Gibbons says the 84-year-old Prince Philip was a navigator in World War II and was very engaged as the two talked. Gibbons wasn’t expecting to receive an award and thought the honor was reserved for British citizens.
“I got a letter from the director of the institute out of the blue,” he says. The British Professional Navigators Association sent the letter. “I’m not a navigator, I’m a journalist, and this is a lifetime achievement award for recipients recognizing all of the work they have contributed to navigation.”
As a reporter, he saw the number of GPS units sold climb into the tens of millions and thought it was possible to have a business-to-business magazine. Inside GNSS covers policies, system development surrounding the use of GNSS technology for engineers, policy makers and designers. The magazine is published bi-monthly and has a print circulation of 30 thousand.
“Glen Gibbons has probably done more than anyone to raise general awareness and understanding of the emergent satellite navigation technology, including its capabilities and limitations,” reads the citation accompanying the award.
Story by Corinne Boyer, MS ’15