Optical Feedback

Freeform optics

I was surprised to see myself referenced in Jannick Rolland and Kevin Thompson’s article (OPN, June 2012) on freefrom optical surfaces as having worked with James Baker and William Plummer on the Polaroid SX-70 camera. I was extremely fortunate later in my career to work with both Baker and Plummer, but I must confess I was just finishing high school when they made their seminal contribution to freeform optics as embodied in that truly revolutionary optical system. I received an SX-70 as a college graduation present, and it inspired me to take up my graduate studies in optics and led to my subsequent employment at Polaroid—which at the time was one of the most creative optical environments in the world.

While Jim was alive, he was a great friend, as Bill still is. I treasure the opportunity that I had to work with them; they deserve sole credit for the optical system in the SX-70.

Stephen D. Fantone
Wakefield, Mass., U.S.A.

THE AUTHORS REPLY: We appreciate Steve Fantone for revealing his connection to the SX-70 as well as for clarifying that he worked with James Baker and William Plummer later in his career.

Jannick Rolland and Kevin Thompson


Graduate-level industry internships

Hannah Bembia’s article on “Graduate-Level Internships in Industry” highlighted the benefits that graduate students receive from work opportunities outside of the academic lab (OPN, July/August 2012). However, it should be pointed out that there is value in undergraduate internships not only for the students, but for the employer as well.

Having followed the typical route of university collaborations (i.e., funding a professor and one or two of his select graduate students) for a large portion of my career, I started working with undergraduate interns while I was employed at the Penn State Electro-Optics Center. Given the choice of projects and mentors, these younger, “less qualified” students achieved remarkable success.

When I recently returned to industry, I quickly became aware of the business value of undergraduate interns. My company has successfully utilized undergraduate interns in the traditional summer session role and hired some to become part-time employees in our engineering department.

While there are certainly many technical tasks that require highly educated and experienced personnel, there are a number of other daily duties that do not. Bringing on undergraduate interns provides students with valuable career-building experience while allowing senior personnel to remain engaged with senior-level tasks. It is a great way to grow the next generation of engineers from the ground up.

Brian Brickeen
Orlando, Fla., U.S.A.


Photography in the American Civil War

I enjoyed your outstanding article about how photographic technology changed the way Americans thought about war (OPN, June 2012). The record is astounding, and it should teach us all lessons for the future. I’m so glad that the author had her photographic tintype taken. But how did she travel back to 1862 to have it done?

H. John Wood
Lead optics engineer, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope
Excerpted from an online comment


Welcome to the New Optics & Photonics News

You may notice that this month’s issue of Optics & Photonics News looks a bit different than you remember it. For one thing, the name on the cover is Optics & Photonics News rather than the three letters that many of you have come to associate with your favorite OSA member benefit: OPN.

But never fear: Within these pages you’ll find the same lively mix of optics research and industry news that you’ve come to expect over the years—along with a number of improvements. The longer name, new fonts and cleaner look are all part of a redesign of the magazine that we’ve been planning for more than a year. In addition to the visual changes, we’ve expanded our news section to include more diverse and timely content; added a number of information graphics to better explain complex concepts in a simple, straightforward manner; and included more images illustrating the beauty and diversity of optics and photonics.

All of these changes were made in response to reader feedback that we collected as part of a comprehensive survey that we conducted last year as well as advice from expert consultants. I hope that you’ll enjoy reading the new OPN as much as my team has enjoyed creating it. Please let me know what you think.

Christina Folz
OPN Editor and Content Director

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