Warren Smith is world-renowned in the optics community as author of two editions of "Modern Optical Engineering - The Design of Optical Systems", "Modern Lens Design - A Resource Manual" and "Practical Optical Systems Layout". He was a Founder and President of the Chicago Section of the Optical Society of America (OSA); a Director of the Optical Society of Southern California (OSSC); National President of OSA in 1980; and National President of the SPIE in 1983. He is a Fellow of both OSA and SPIE, and also OSSC. He teaches optics courses for the University of Wisconsin, SPIE, OSA, and various companies and government agencies at worldwide locations.
Warren J. Smith was born in Rochester, New York on August 17, 1922. In high school he and George Matter, also an OSSC Fellow, took a physics course which got both men interested in optics. That class, plus his interest in photography caused Warren to enroll in the Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester. He worked part-time for Bausch & Lomb during school. After graduation, Warren worked two years for Kodak helping run the labs at Oakridge, Tennessee.
Mr. Smith was Chief Optical Engineer for Simpson Optical Company in Chicago from 1946 to 1959, where he worked with Ed Bickel and Pete Vandehaye. Then he came to Raytheon in Santa Barbara, California as Manager of the Optics Section of the Infrared Department. Warren was Director, then Vice-President of R&D at Infrared Industries, later known as Santa Barbara Applied Optics, from 1962 to 1987, with Dick Brown, and Lowell Baskins and again with Ed Bickel.
While at IR Industries, Warren wrote a couple of chapters of the Handbook of Military Infrared Technology, which later became the IR Handbook. Since then, he has published numerous articles on optics and optical design; has edited many SPIE Proceedings Volumes; and co-edited McGraw Hill's Optical and Electro-Optical Engineering Series of books. He also has written chapters for four other handbooks: the Handbook of Optics; the Handbook of IR Technology; Mechanical Engineers Systems Handbook; and a SPIE Handbook on IR Optics. Warren has chaired innumerable conferences on optical design and related subjects for SPIE and the OSA.
After 1987, Warren Smith was the Chief Scientist at Kaiser Electro Optics in Carlsbad, California working part time at the end of his carrer due to the demands of consulting, teaching, and expert witnessing, and writing the 3rd edition of his book "Modern Optical Engineering".
Warren J. Smith resided in Vista, California and is survived by his wife Mary Helen Smith (they married in 1944) and their two grown children: David in Murietta; and Barbara Samaniego in the Bay Area. The Smiths also have two grandsons and a granddaughter.
In memoriam: Warren J. Smith
(Published by the SPIE)
Warren J. Smith , widely regarded as one of the most influential leaders in the optical design and engineering field, died on 19 June in California. He was 85. Smith was a Fellow and Past President of SPIE, and since 1987 had been at Rockwell Collins Kaiser Electro-Optics, where he was Chief Scientist Emeritus.
As author of Modern Optical Engineering, first published by McGraw-Hill in 1966, and now co-published by SPIE and in its 4th edition, Smith was one of the best-known authors in the field. He also authored Modern Lens Design and Practical Optical System Layout.
"Warren was a mentor who always listened, and was always very supportive," said Max Riedl, who worked with Smith at Infrared Industries in Santa Barbara, CA. "A clear and critical thinker, he was never satisfied with 'just' solving an optical problem. During the 23 years we worked together, I never saw any of his designs that did not bring the predicted results."
Born on 17 August 1922, Smith graduated from Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester. After graduation, he worked for Eastman Kodak in Oakridge, TN. In 1946 he became Chief Optical Engineer at Simpson Optical Manufacturing Company in Chicago, IL, and in 1959 he moved Raytheon in Santa Barbara, CA, where he was Manager of the Optics Section until 1962. From 1962 until 1983 he was Director of R&D at Infrared Industries in Santa Barbara, and Vice President of R&D at Santa Barbara Applied Optics until 1987.
Smith served in numerous leadership positions for SPIE, taught popular short courses for the Society and other organizations for many years, and was instrumental in helping develop the Society's role as an international organization. He was the recipient of the SPIE Gold Medal of the Society and Directors' Award, and was a Fellow and Past President of the Optical Society of America.
Smith was honored with a tribute conference and proceedings volume as part of the SPIE Optics and Photonics symposium in San Diego in 2005. See comments and photos excerpted from Proceedings of SPIE Vol. 5865 Tribute to Warren Smith: A Legacy in Lens Design and Optical Engineering. (PDF file, 700k)
Read Tom Godfery's Memorium in Nov, 2008 Images Newsletter