Honoring the father of the laser and all who followed his path

By Geoff Giordano          

Laser inventor Charles Hard Townes at ICALEO 2010.
Laser inventor Charles Hard Townes at ICALEO 2010.

In two days, the University of California, Berkeley, will throw a 99th birthday celebration for Charles Hard Townes, inventor of the laser and professor emeritus of physics at the school.

As we celebrate this milestone and Townes’ remarkable career, it brings to mind one attendee from our Lasers for Manufacturing Event last year. At the time, he was only in the second week of a photonics program at a nearby college. After seven years in the financial industry, he had decided to pursue another career, and his professor had suggested he come to LME to gain a broader perspective on the laser industry.

There is no doubt that the continued advancement of lasers in so many manufacturing and medical applications will require a larger workforce of skilled employees. But just as important is buy-in at the executive level. The U.S. manufacturing industry requires a C-suite mindset willing to embrace the array of ever-improving lasers to maximize production efficiency — and profitability.

That’s why we created the Lasers for Manufacturing Summit, to be held Sept. 22 — the day before our fourth annual LME in Schaumburg, Ill. As our Executive Director Peter Baker says, the summit will help executives “conquer their competition, their challenges and their fears” about embracing laser technology for traditional applications and up-and-coming additive processes.

But no matter what role one plays in the laser industry, we all owe a hat tip to one Mr. Townes for setting in motion the laser revolution. We applaud not only him, but everyone who has followed his path and embraced this truly disruptive technology.

And we take this occasion to ask you to share your story: What brought you into the laser fold? What opportunities has the laser industry presented to you? And, what is on your agenda for the future? Comment here or email media and promotion strategist Geoff Giordano at ggiordano@lia.org.