Robert D Maurer received a B.S. degree in physics in 1948 from the University of Arkansas and a Ph.D. degree, also in physics, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1951. His education at the university was interrupted by service with the 99th infantry division in Europe.
Following one year of postgraduate work at MIT, Maurer joined the physics department of Corning's research and development laboratory, progressing from research physicist in 1952 through senior research associate and manager of the fundamental physics department to research fellow in 1978. In 1970, Maurer and his colleagues designed and produced the first optical fiber with optical losses low enough for use in telecommunications. Maurer retired from Corning in 1989. He was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1979. In 1987, Maurer received OSA’s John Tyndall Award “for contributions to the discovery and understanding of materials and techniques for the fabrication of glass fiber waveguides for optical communication.”