Prof. Dr. h. c. Lothar Späth received the SPIE Visionary Award at the SPIE Europe Optical Metrology congress in Munich, Germany, on 15 June. SPIE President Maria Yzuel presented the award in recognition of "visionary guidance of Jenoptik AG and the Jena optics community to its recognition as a world leader in its industry, providing technological solutions to challenges of the world and its future."
Späth was Chairman of Jenoptik AG when it was established in 1991 as the legal successor to the previously publicly owned (VEB) Carl Zeiss Jena. He had been charged with closing down the historic operation, but saw the industry's potential in the area, and instead reorganized and expanded the optical engineering company, transforming it into a public company listed in 1998.
Jenoptik's success and the restructuring of today's Carl Zeiss Jena helped revitalize the optics industry throughout the region. As a result, Jena, once the cradle of optical technology where Zeiss, Schott, and Abbe established a science- and technology-based industry from what had been essentially a craft, has since reclaimed its role as an innovative centre for optics.
Späth previously served as Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg, and later as the Royal Norwegian Consul General for Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt as well as President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of East Thuringia. After leaving Jenoptik, he hosted Späth am Abend" on the German TV station n-tv, a popular interview and commentary programme concerned with economics and politics. This was followed by a weekly broadcast "Späth zur Woche" on the same station, commenting on current politics.
Highly respected in Germany and around the world, Späth serves on the boards of several corporations, and has authored several books on political, media, and economic issues. He has received several honorary doctorships and other awards including the J. McCloy Award from the American Council on Germany. In 2002, The Economist said of him, "His name is a byword for economic dynamism and entrepreneurial flair."
SPIE Europe Optical Metrology, running through 18 June, is co-located with World of Photonics 2009. SPIE Europe is one of eight partners providing technical conferences as part of the biennial event which also includes the Laser World of Photonics exhibition. The European Optical Society and
German Scientific Laser Society (WLT) are participating as Cooperating Organisations of SPIE Europe Optical Metrology.
Chairs of the Optical Metrology congress are Wolfgang Osten, Universität Stuttgart, Germany; Malgorzata Kujawinska, Politechnika Warszawska, Poland; and Pietro Ferraro, Istituto Nazionale di Ottica Applicata, Italy. See the event website for more information: spie.org/optical-metrology.xml.
Photo: Lothar Späth with his SPIE Visionary Award, and SPIE President Maria Yzuel.