Association News

OSA Gives Advanced LIGO Engineering Team Paul F. Forman award.

Press Release Summary:

Sep 09, 2016 - Optical Society (OSA) announced Advanced LIGO Engineering Team as winner of 2016 Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award. Their discovery, confirming Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, was made possible by photonics technology, including laser-based interferometers used to measure gravitational waves. Dennis Coyne and GariLynn Billingsley will accept award at OSA's Annual Meeting, Frontiers in Optics (FiO) / Laser Science (LS) on 19 October 2016.

The Optical Society (OSA) - Washington, DC

Original Press Release

Advanced LIGO Engineering Team Receives OSA's 2016 Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award

Press release date: Sep 07, 2016

Overcoming a Daunting List of Engineering Challenges; LIGO team connected optical, electrical and mechanical elements of advanced interferometry to find engineering success at the limits of human endeavor

WASHINGTON – The Optical Society (OSA) is pleased to announce that the Advanced LIGO Engineering Team is the winner of the 2016 Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award. The discovery, which confirms Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, is among the most significant in the last century of physics and was made possible by photonics technology, including the ultra-precise laser-based interferometers used to measure gravitational waves. The team will receive the award during the plenary session at OSA's Annual Meeting, Frontiers in Optics (FiO) / Laser Science (LS), which takes place in Rochester, New York, USA on 19 October 2016. Dennis Coyne and GariLynn Billingsley, California Institute of Technology, will be accepting the award at FiO/LS.

"For years, many members of The Optical Society have been actively researching this phenomenon of nature," said Alan Willner, 2016 President of The Optical Society. "We heartily congratulate the LIGO Engineering Team on this remarkable achievement of gravitational wave astronomy. LIGO is an absolutely monumental research effort. Technical advances wrought by Advanced LIGO's talented team of engineers who produced the unique 'blend of optical, mechanical, electrical and systems engineering' made possible this stunning achievement.¡±

Dennis Coyne, the Advanced LIGO Chief Engineer, California Institute of Technology, said, "After 20 years of dedicated effort, LIGO's direct detection of gravitational waves from a binary black hole merger is incredibly rewarding and exciting! This enormous discovery was only possible due to the visionary support of the National Science Foundation and the incredibly hard work of an extremely talented team of scientists and engineers. I am deeply grateful and proud to have played a part for the launch of this new field of observational cosmology."

James C. Bergquist, Fellow of The Optical Society and The National Academy of Sciences, said, "I still smile whenever I think of the emotional ecstasy that must have swept over the entire LIGO Team, but especially her engineers, when they realized that, in spite of the rather noisy platform afforded by spaceship earth, their exquisitely sensitive interferometers, each a technical masterpiece and easily the most sensitive metrological instruments ever built, had worked flawlessly to finally reveal direct evidence of the existence of gravitational waves."

Gravitational waves went from a whisper to a shout when detected in October 2015. Using advanced optics-based systems, the research team was able to measure gravitational waves on Earth, enabling them to pinpoint the precise moments they were produced.  Unlike light, gravitational waves are not diminished by interstellar dust as they propagate through space. By detecting them, the research team is able to peer into the most energetic events of the universe and explore the cosmos in a completely new way. The project is a significant example of the best in international innovation and the team's continued research with Advanced LIGO will continue to impact the physical sciences for years to come.

The Advanced LIGO Engineering Team     
LIGO Laboratory–Caltech
Ben Abbott, Electronics engineer
Rich Abbott, Lead electronics engineer
Robert Anderson, Lead QA/manufacturing engineer
Lisa Austin, Mechanical engineer
GariLynn Billingsley, Lead optical engineer
Rolf Bork, Lead software engineer
Dennis Coyne, Chief engineer
Kate Gushwa, Mechanical engineer
Jay Heefner, Lead electronics engineer
Alastair Heptonstall, Lead laser engineer
Alex Ivanov, Real time software engineer
Mindy Jacobson, Opto-mechanical engineer
Eric James, Systems engineer
Jeff Lewis, QA/manufacturing engineer
Mohana Mageswaran, Electrical engineer
Ken Mailand, Opto-mechanical engineer
Margot Phelps, Optical engineer
Eduardo Sanchez, Design engineer
Zhenhua Shao, Electronics engineer
Michael Smith, Opto-mechanical engineer
Calum Torrie, Deputy Chief engineer
Liyuan Zhang, Optical engineer
LIGO Laboratory–MIT

Sam Barnum, Mechanical engineer
Sebastien Biscans, Mechanical engineer
Stephany Foley, Mechanical engineer
Michael Hillard, Mechanical engineer
Ken Mason, Lead mechanical engineer
Fabrice Matichard, Lead mechanical engineer
Rich Mittleman, Controls engineer
Andy Stein, Mechanical engineer
LIGO Laboratory–LIGO Hanford Observatory

Dave Barker, Lead computer systems engineer
Jim Batch, Software engineer
Filiberto Clara, Electrical engineer
Doug Cook, Optical engineer
Corey Gray, mechanical engineer
Jonathan Hanks, Software engineer
Peter King, Lead laser engineer
Jeff Kissel, Lead controls engineer
Vincent Lhuillier, Controls engineer
Richard McCarthy Lead electrical engineer
Edmond Merilh, Electronics assembly and test engineer
Gerardo Moreno, Assembly, test, and QA engineer
Jason Oberling, Opto-mechanical engineer
Hugh Radkins, Lead servo-mechanical installation/test engineer
Cyrus Reed, Software engineer
Kyle Ryan, Vacuum engineer
Paul Schwinberg, Electrical engineer
Aaron Sevigny, Electrical engineer
Cheryl Vorvick, Opto-mechanical engineer
Jim Warner, Installation and test engineer
Betsy Weaver, Lead opto-mechanical installation/test engineer
John Worden, Lead Operations engineer
LIGO Laboratory–LIGO Livingston Observatory

Carl Adams, Lead electronics engineer
Stuart Aston, Opto-mechanical engineer
Derek Bridges, Assembly and test engineer
Dwayne Giardina, Software engineer
David Kinzel, Electronics engineer
Adrien LeRoux, Integration and testing engineer
Scott McCormick, Vacuum engineer
Mike Meyer, Mechanical engineer
Adam Mullavey, Systems engineer
Arnaud Pele, Integration and testing engineer
Celine Ramet, Lead mechanical engineer
Janeen Romie, Lead mechanical engineer
Keith Thorne, Lead computer systems engineer
Gary Traylor, Lead assembly/installation engineer
Michael Vargas, SEI assembly engineer
Albert Einstein Institute and Laser Zentrum Hannover

Maik Frede, Electro-optics engineer
Gerrit Kuehn, Computer systems engineer
Michaela Pickenpack, Electro-optics engineer
Oliver Puncken, Electro-optics engineer
Andreas Weidner, Electronics engineer
Lutz Winkelmann, Opto-mechanical engineer
Glasgow University

Angus Bell, Opto-mechanical engineer
Russell Jones, Opto-mechanical engineer
Rutherford Appleton Laboratory

Justin Greenhalgh, Lead mechanical engineer
Joe O'Dell, Mechanical engineer
Ian Wilmut, Mechanical engineer
Stanford University

Charles Celerier, Software engineer
Dan Clark, Mechanical engineer
Dan DeBra, System design engineer
Corwin Hardham, Mechanical engineer
Brian Lantz, Lead system and controls engineer
Hugo Paris, Controls engineer
Brett Shapiro, Controls and modeling engineer
University of Florida

Muzamil Arain, Optical engineer
Joe Gleason, Opto-mechanical engineer
Matthew Heintze, Opto-mechanical engineer
Rodica Martin, Optical engineer
Luke Williams, Opto-mechanical engineer

The Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award was established by The Optical Society in 1989 and has since been bestowed on dozens of outstanding researchers and engineers. Named in remembrance of Paul F. Forman, who, among many other accomplishments, effectively raised the visibility of optical engineering. This team award recognizes technical achievements such as product engineering, process, software and patent development, as well as contributions to society such as engineering education, publication and management, and furthering public appreciation of optical engineering. For more information on the award or the nomination process, visit OSA Awards.

About The Optical Society
Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional organization for scientists, engineers, students and entrepreneurs who fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate achievements in the science of light. Through world-renowned publications, meetings and membership initiatives, OSA provides quality research, inspired interactions and dedicated resources for its extensive global network of optics and photonics experts. For more information, visit

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