In addition to teaching at RISD, Tom Weis is cofounder and chief creative officer of the Altimeter Group. His work and research interests focus on the intersection of design practices and global security issues. Since 2015, Weis has worked with partners in the nuclear threat reduction space and has designed and facilitated workshops for such organizations as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, The International Atomic Energy Agency and various think tanks. He has been co-lead on the development of new foresight exercises with strategists at Sandia National Laboratory. This work has led to collaborations with officers from the US Army and the Navy SEALs, along with nuclear fuel cycles experts and defense analysts. In 2018, Weis initiated a Global Security Fellowship program for postgraduate fellows at RISD that was funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. In 2021 he and his team began an exploratory project with the United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs.
Earlier in his career, Weis led projects that were acknowledged by The New York Times, Time Magazine’s Best Inventions of 2010 and the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum’s 2010 Design Triennial. He has a deep-rooted knowledge of traditional crafts and devoted years to apprenticing as a traditional wooden boat builder and as studio assistant to the artist Martin Puryear, who recently represented the US at the 2019 Venice Biennale. Weis teaches courses to graduate and undergraduate students on topics such as design and global security, in addition to courses that focus on the use of objects, beauty and other topics related to his work.