David Aikens: The 2021 SPIE A.E. Conrady Award in Optical Engineering
SPIE Fellow David Aikens, president of Savvy Optics, has had a vast impact across optical engineering over his illustrious career. His seminal work on mid-spatial frequency errors continues to lead to significant advances in multiple areas from high-power laser optic to freeform surfaces. His impact on optical standards for the entire ISO/TC 172 (Optics and Photonic Technical Committee) has been enormous: he turned a disorganized United States delegation into a thriving body of experts engaged with other world-standards leaders in optics. Since 2012, he has been a critical contributor to the SPIE IR Materials Working Group (IRMWG), helping to organize and direct the group toward concrete results. Throughout his career — with Hughes Aircraft, at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, at Zygo, and now with Savvy — Aikens has shared his knowledge on a continual basis with the wider optics community, and has been instrumental in developing and implementing standards across the industry.
Aikens has created and taught a rich range of SPIE courses over the years including "Understanding Scratch and Dig" (for which he developed an advanced, hands-on laboratory), "ISO 10110 — The International Drawing Standard," "Understanding Waviness and Roughness," and "Advanced Surface Imperfection Workshop," as well as a half-day introductory version of his optics-drawing class, "Modern Optical Drawings," and the non-technical "A Practical Guide to Specifying Optics" for non-engineers.
"David has shown incredible dedication to optics standards' development," say Director of Technology and Strategy at Optimax Systems Jessica DeGroote Nelson. "It is nearly impossible to convey how much of a catalyst and driver he has been in that area, at multiple levels and often at his own expense and time. He has spent his entire career working tirelessly to improve the international and US community standardization. From his first job at Hugh Aircraft Company where he worked with Ron Kimmell on standardizing the optics drawings there, he has consistently supported industry standards for optics nationally and internationally."