Leno S. Pedrotti

In Memoriam: Leno S. Pedrotti

August 19, 2008

OSA Mourns Leno S. Pedrotti

Leno PedrottiLeno S. Pedrotti, an OSA Fellow Emeritus and an OSA member for nearly 40 years, died on August 19, 2008 after a battle with cancer. He was 81.

Pedrotti was an Emeritus Professor of Physics at the Air Force Institute of Technology and Emeritus Chief Scientist and Emeritus Senior Vice President at the Center for Occupational Research & Development (CORD) in Waco, Texas.

He received his BS in Education from Illinois State University (1949), an MS in Physics from the University of Illinois (1951) and earned a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Cincinnati in 1961. He joined the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) in Dayton, Ohio in 1951. After taking a leave of absence in 1957-58 to work on his PhD, Pedrotti returned to teaching at AFIT, where he was promoted to Associate Professor in 1959. In 1964 he was appointed head of the Physics Department, where he was charged with the annual education of over 75 officers at both masters and doctoral levels in programs including nuclear weapons effects, directed energy and space physics. He also spearheaded the design of a new AFIT program in Optics and Lasers.

Pedrotti remained at AFIT until 1982, when he retired from federal service and joined CORD, a national, non-profit, educational R&D organization, to develop curricula and teaching materials in mathematics, science and emerging technologies. Course materials that he designed especially for applied, or “contextual learners” have been used by over one million students in ten different counties.

From 1995 to 2006, Pedrotti served as Emeritus Chief Scientist for CORD and as advisor, author and editor of the STEP II Photonics Series sponsored by NSF. Beginning in 2006 he was active in curriculum development/revisions for OP-TEC, the NSF National Center of Excellence in Optics and Photonics Education. He was also affiliated with Laser Electro-Optic Engineering Technology, Inc. as an author, editor and lecturer from 1978-1992.

Pedrotti was a member of numerous professional societies, including the American Physical Society, where he served as Chair of the Ohio Section; the Laser Institute of America, where he served on the Board of Directors from 1974-1984; the American Nuclear Society; American Association of Physics Teachers; American Society for Engineering Education; American Vocational Association; National Council of Teachers of Mathematics; the International Society for Optical Engineering; Sigma Xi, and Tau beta Pi.

Pedrotti was named an OSA Fellow in 2001 “for life-long premier contributions to optics education from secondary to graduate levels,” and he was also a National Science Foundation Faculty Fellow (1959-1961). He received the United States Air Force Exceptional Civilian Service Award (1982) and Meritorious Civilian Service Award (1974); the American Vocational Association Outstanding membership Award (1988); and was a four-time recipient of the Tau Beta Pi Outstanding Teacher Award.

Pedrotti is the author of numerous books, including Introduction to Optics; Optics and Vision; Principles of Technology; CORD Applied Mathematics; and The Science, Technology, Society Movement. He co-authored Fundamentals of Optics (1987) with his brother Frank; in 2006 the co-authors were joined by Pedrotti’s son Leno M. to produce a major revision to this work.

Pedrotti is survived by his wife, Jean, a fellow physicist, and eight children, including sons John, Chair of the Laser Electro-Optics and Nanotechnology Department at Texas State Technical Institute in Waco, and Leno M., a professor and optical physicist at the University of Dayton.

Notes or cards may be sent to Jean Pedrotti, 11006 Trailwood Drive, Waco, TX 76712.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorials may be sent to the American Cancer Society.

This obituary was contributed by Dan Hull, Director of OPTEC, The National Center for Optics and Photonics Education.