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In memoriam: Rick Nasca, optics expert and STEM advocate

07 December 2015

Rick NascaRick (Richard) Nasca, manufacturing associate at Corning Tropel Corp., past president of APOMA (the American Precision Optics Manufacturers Association), and a strong supporter of optics education, died on 1 December. He was 57.

Rick spent his entire career at Corning Tropel Corp., where he was SME (Subject Matter Expert) Optical Finishing. He had served as president and board member of APOMA, and was active in the SPIE Optifab meeting held biennially in Rochester, taking on nearly every role in organizing and presenting the event throughout its history.

"Rick started his career at Tropel 33 years ago as an entry-level polisher with no prior experience," said Jim (James) Sydor, of Sydor Optics, Inc. "As he honed his skills, he worked his way up in the optics department, from polisher to group leader to foreman to manager to his current position as subject matter expert. Rick's tremendous knowledge of optical finishing took him all over the world working on important Corning projects."

Rick attended Monroe Community College (MCC) and was a graduate of Ashland University. He was a passionate advocate for optics education, and devoted considerable time to MCC's optical engineering and other STEM programs. He worked to help support, recognize, and reward students in the industry and to encourage young people to pursue careers in optics.

For Optifab, Rick served as symposium chair, conference committee chair and committee member, exhibition chair, and author, and represented APOMA, cospsonsor of the event.

Diane Cline, SPIE event manager for Optifab, summed up feelings of SPIE staff who worked with Rick. "Rick was a devoted, fun, generous man; a huge supporter of students and the optical fabrication community. He was one of the founding steering committee members for SPIE Optifab in 2013. Rick will be missed."