Robert D. Maurer
"Robert D. Maurer is truly the father of the optical fiber," said Roland W. Schmitt, President of the Industrial Research Institute on the occasion of presenting Maurer with the Institute's Achievement Award for 1986.
Bob, a native of Arkadelphia, received his B.S. Degree in Physics, with high honors, from the University of Arkansas in 1948. From there he went to graduate school at M.I.T., receiving his Ph.D. in Physics only three years later. He joined the research staff at Corning Glass Works, in Corning, New York, where he remained, becoming a senior research fellow, manager of applied physics, and manager of special projects. His research into the properties of very pure glasses led to the development of optical waveguides. These permit the transmission of information normally carried by electrical signals along wires, but with the wires replaced by very thin glass fibers, and light pulses replacing the electrical current. Optical fibers are revolutionizing the communications industry today. Bob retired from Corning in 1989, but he still goes into the lab once a week as a consultant to the group he formerly directed.
In 1980, the University of Arkansas awarded Bob an honorary LL.D. Degree. Although numerous honors have come his way -- induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame; the John Tyndall Award for Industrial Applications of Physics (first winner) from the American Institute of Physics; the L.M. Ericsson International Prize for Telecommunications, awarded by the Swedish Academy of Engineering; the George Morey Award of the American Ceramic Society; and the Morris N. Liebmann Award of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers -- Maurer says he values his honorary LL.D. from the University of Arkansas most highly of all. - contributed by M. Lieber