William T. Plummer:


"For contributions to optical science and engineering, and for leadership in high-volume manufacturing of precision optics."

N. A. E. Statement of Technical Interest

One task of Engineering is to make commercial products of all kinds that are better, more versatile, smaller, cheaper, and earlier to market. My interest is to solve the resulting manufacturing problems far upstream through cross-disciplinary teamwork, before designs become viscous or rigid. This goal demands fighting for real clarity in the early concept stage of a design project, and requires doing so with the best and broadest technical team that can be nurtured or borrowed.

In the case of optical science and engineering, and precision engineering, this approach has led us to use a variety of unique and surprisingly sophisticated optical, mechanical, and electronic designs even in mass-produced camera products with molded plastic components. It has also led us to great simplification of the design and assembly of instruments, specialized laser hardware and other manufactured goods, through standard approaches, modularity, rational fixturing and procedures, and modern component fabrication.

I believe that competitive product engineering requires a solid grasp of the obvious, or at least of basic principles imaginatively applied early enough by the right team. We are surrounded by opportunities for better design practice and I am interested in teaching effective ideas through entertaining examples.