Susan Rico (formerly Susan Raffensperger) served as OSSC President in 1996-97. She was a member of the OSSC Board of Directors from 1990 through 1998, serving as Councilor, Program Chair, Treasurer and Secretary/Newsletter Editor. She was inducted as an OSSC Fellow in 2008.
Susan was born in North Carolina and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. A young, energetic, high school physics teacher (Anita Kern) inspired Susan to study optical physics at Georgia Tech, where she received her bachelor and master degrees under the guidance of Don O'Shea.
Susan worked for a short time at Northern Telecom in Atlanta before moving to Los Angeles in 1988 to take a job with Northrop’s Electro-Mechanical Division in Anaheim, California. She worked for Northrop in various capacities for 24 years. Her last 7 years at Northrop were at Space Park (formerly TRW) in Redondo Beach, California.
In May 2012, Susan took a senior optical engineering position at N2 Imaging Systems in Irvine, California. She founded her own company, Visual Purple Optical Design, in March 2017. She parted ways with N2 in March 2019 and continues to do consulting work in optical design and engineering.
Susan’s work has included optical design, HOE design and fabrication, and holographic data storage. She has worked on many optical systems including night-vision goggles, weapon sights, laser radars, star trackers, infrared and visible imagers, directed-energy systems and optical memory. Her mentors have included Tom Godfrey, Murty Mantravadi (a.k.a. MVRK Murty), Walter Clark, Jim Hall, Dennis Richman, Vere Moesser, Dave Hammond, Marty Flannery, Pete Vallianos and Bill Sullivan. She is the holder of five patents.
Susan married Leonel Rico in 2006. They met while working at Northrop in Hawthorne, California. The Ricos live in Long Beach, California. When she isn’t working, Susan enjoys traveling (she’s been to all 50 states and 25 countries), and drawing and painting. Her artwork has been featured in several group shows, and she has sold many pieces to collectors. Her parents live in Atlanta, along with her brother and sister and their families.