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SPIE Professional: Bonus Web Content

In Memoriam: Warren J. Smith

SPIE and others in the optics and photonics world mourn the passing of Warren J. Smith, a former SPIE president.

Warren J. Smith, 85, one of the most influential leaders in optical design and engineering, died 19 June in California.

photo of the late Warren J. SmithA Fellow and past president of both SPIE and OSA, Smith was a world-class lens designer, teacher, mentor, author, and industry leader who helped countless optical engineers and lens designers gain their understanding of the field. Since 1987, he had been at Rockwell Collins Kaiser Electro-Optics where he was Chief Scientist Emeritus.

His books included Modern Optical Engineering, first published by McGraw-Hill in 1966 and now co-published by SPIE and in its 4th edition; Modern Lens Design; and Practical Optical System Layout.

"Warren was a mentor who always listened, and was always very supportive," said Max Riedl, who worked with Smith at Infrared Industries in Santa Barbara, CA, and who is the author of the SPIE Tutorial Text, Optical Design Fundamentals for Infrared Systems. "A clear and critical thinker, he was never satisfied with 'just' solving an optical problem. During the 23 years we worked together, I never saw any of his designs that did not bring the predicted results."

Smith served in numerous leadership positions for SPIE, taught popular short courses for the Society and other organizations for many years, and was instrumental in helping develop the Society's role as an international organization.

His working career began at Eastman Kodak in Oak Ridge, TN, and he later became chief optical engineer at Simpson Optical Manufacturing Company in Chicago, IL, in 1946. In 1959, he moved to Raytheon in Santa Barbara, CA, where he was manager of the Optics Section until 1962. From 1962 until 1983, he was director of R&D at Infrared Industries in Santa Barbara, and vice president of R&D at Santa Barbara Applied Optics until 1987.

Smith was the recipient of the SPIE Gold Medal of the Society and the Directors' Award, and was a graduate of Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester.

In keeping with his wishes, no memorial service was held.

Links to published articles and an excerpt from a tribute conference for Smith in 2005 can be found at http://spie.org/warrensmith.

DOI: 10.1117/2.4200807.49

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