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In memoriam: Oliver Drummond, Small Targets conference founder

01 March 2016

Oliver Drummond, an electrical engineer, researcher and expert in multiple target tracking, died in early February in the Los Angeles area. He learned and developed the technology, useful in military and commercial applications, while working for The Aerospace Corporation, Hughes Aircraft, General Dynamics and numerous government agencies before, during and after receiving his PhD from UCLA. He eventually chose to be a consulting engineer, and started a company called CyberRnD, Inc.

Drummond created a technical conference with SPIE in 1989, "Signal and Data Processing of Small Targets," which filled a need in SPIE's conference repertoire and attracted hundreds of papers from worldwide sources. He published more than 50 papers in SPIE Proceedings, and taught a short course at SPIE meetings for 17 consecutive years.

The Small Targets conference, his research and related publications were his passion, and the conference was his "baby" -- he served as chair from 1989 through 2015.

Oliver's sense of humor really blossomed in conference sessions when a few of his peers were present. Developing a technology does involve friendly discussions and he was right at home in that environment. A lot of useful discussion went on even with the humorous portions. He was both humble in his comments to presenters and generous with his compliments. Many people attended the conference sessions to learn, but many wanted to hear his take on a particular algorithm and/or concept.

In summary, Oliver Drummond left many legacies - the Small Targets conference he chaired for 27 years, the technology he developed and wrote about so often, and the respect and admiration of his friends and peers - engineers, government contractors, university professors and students. It was a privilege to have known and worked with him for so many years. He will be missed.

Obituary by Richard Teichgraeber