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Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

Gift establishes optical engineering center
By Jonathan Sherwood
The Institute of Optics announced the creation of the Robert E. Hopkins Center for Optical Design & Engineering on October 23. The new center, made possible by a $2 million gift from former Corning Tropel Corporation CEO John Bruning, celebrates the achievements of Professor Emeritus Robert Hopkins, director of the Institute from 1954 to 1965 and widely revered as the “father of optical engineering.”
“We are proud to kick off this new center, which will set the standard for optical engineering in the 21st century,” says Institute of Optics Director Wayne Knox. “It’s a fitting way to honor Bob Hopkins, one of the icons of optical engineering. And many thanks to John Bruning for making it possible.”
The Center for Optical Design & Engineering (CODE) will enable the leading optical engineering program in the world and will attract the very best optical engineering experts to Rochester to teach and conduct cutting-edge research, according to Knox. Bruning’s gift provides support for the center and will help to fund a new faculty position. All of this will directly feed the center’s educational commitment by offering students a hands-on experience as they pursue their bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in optical engineering.
“We envision that CODE will be the training ground for the leaders in optical engineering for generations to come,” says Kevin Parker, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “Here we will combine the best faculty, the best research, and the best facilities and equipment in optical engineering that will attract aspiring leaders from around the world.”
The Robert B. Goergen Hall for Biomedical Engineering and Optics will house the new center. Its space within Goergen Hall is designed to encourage collaboration among the faculty, the student base, and the expected increased number of graduate students. Perhaps most importantly, according to Knox, Goergen Hall also contains a laboratory suite reserved specifically for the optical design, fabrication, and metrology needs of the center.
“It is a great pleasure to be able to facilitate further growth at the Institute of Optics with this wonderful new center and I am particularly pleased to have the opportunity to honor Bob Hopkins in doing so,” says Bruning, an executive scientist with Corning focusing on technology and strategy. “Bob contributed enormously to the world of optics as a scientist, an engineer, an entrepreneur, and leader. It is my sincere pleasure that this center will carry his name and legacy.”
Hopkins stands as one of the Institute of Optics’ most significant figures—an innovator in the field of lens and optical system design, and a teacher and mentor for hundreds of students. In the early 1950s, Hopkins was among the first to exploit the computer as a tool for handling problems in lens and optical-system design, and among the first to recognize the important role the laser would play in the future of subjects like solid state physics and quantum physics.
In 1953, he cofounded Tropel Inc, dedicated to manufacturing precision optical systems and instruments for industry. He is renowned for his work in lens design, image quality, and geometrical optics in general. His appreciation for research and teaching led him to expand the institute’s roles in those areas during his tenure as director.
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