Chandler Smith

Chandler Smith

Independent Consultant, Chandler Smith Consulting LLC

MEM'75, Natural Resources Economics & Policy

Chandler (Chan) Smith has been involved in satellite technology, remote sensing and geographic information systems for over 40 years. 

Chan earned a Master’s in Environmental Management from Duke in 1975, and received the Student of the Year award for his leadership in fighting the administration’s plans to close the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.  Right after graduating, Chan commenced his career by preparing an environmental impact statement for North Carolina State Parks Department. The following year, he analyzed economic impacts of rural water and sewer systems for Public Systems Associates, a consulting firm founded by three Duke professors with ties to the Environmental Management program.  In 1977, Chan joined the consulting division of Ernst & Young in Washington, D.C., working primarily on a Department of Energy (DOE) contract to assess the impacts of large-scale energy projects on Native American lands.  From 1979-81 he continued this work as project manager of a DOE contract for a non-profit consortium of Native American tribes – called the Council of Energy Resource Tribes – in Englewood, Colorado.  Over the next two years Chan served as the organization’s manager of finance and operations.

Chan transitioned from the energy industry to the aerospace industry in 1983 when he went to work for Ball Aerospace of Boulder, Colorado.  Here, the skills he developed early in his career in finance, operations, and project management served as the foundation for a series of progressively responsible positions over nearly two decades.  At Ball, Chan gained experience on a wide-range of satellite technologies including communications and electro-optical sensors.   His work at Ball culminated when he directed Ball’s laser technology product line from 1998 – 2000.  Subsequently, Chan served as Vice-President of Operations for EagleScan Remote Sensing, the nation’s first commercially successful Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) business.  From 2003 – 2006, Chan ran his own consulting business, advising clients in the satellite communications and remote sensing fields about business planning, development, and operations.

In 2007, Chan joined COM DEV International, a Canadian company, and helped set up their U.S. satellite communications manufacturing facility in Southern California. This ultimately led Chan to develop the U.S. market for exactEarth, a subsidiary of COM DEV, which launched a satellite constellation to receive ship communications broadcasts and convert the data into geospatial information.   exactEarth’s information users included the maritime industry and also government agencies responsible for maritime safety and security.   Many of the applications related to protecting sensitive maritime environments and sustainable fisheries, and thus, Chan was drawn closer to the environmental protection focus that inspired his early career.   In his capacity with exactEarth, Chan gave several professional presentations on maritime geospatial intelligence at conferences sponsored by organizations he was active in, such as the American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing and the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation.  Chan retired as V.P. of Special Projects for COM DEV in 2016.  Since then, he has returned to independent consulting.  His principal client is Harris Corporation, which he advises on technical sales in relation the next generation Iridium satellite system, which provides real-time, full global coverage of maritime communications.

Chan still lives in Southern California where he enjoys the beach and yoga. He frequently visits his daughter in Colorado also enjoying the hiking, kayaking, and snowshoeing it has to offer.

"My degree in Environmental Management from Duke provided me the foundation to take an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving. As I changed from one industry to another, this made the transitions more effective, and allowed me to excel in each setting I encountered. I am also grateful that I received a scholarship from Duke for my Master's degree. Without it, I could not have pursued the career trajectory I did."

Program Area

concentration: REP