3 Questions with Susan Houde-Walter of LaserMaxDefense

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Photonics Media recently spoke with Susan Houde-Walter, CEO of LaserMaxDefense (LMD). LMD is a laser manufacturer based in Rochester, N.Y., that specializes in diode and quantum cascade lasers. Houde-Walter serves on the Army Science Board and the National Defense Industrial Association Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict division, and has served on the U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board. She is a past president of OSA (2005), was a full tenured faculty member at the University of Rochester, and is now adjunct faculty at the University of Arizona. She has received various awards for service to the defense department, for her technical contributions, and for entrepreneurship.

Your online profile says you were the first female regular faculty member of the Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester. You completed your undergraduate degree at Sarah Lawrence College, which has a reputation as a school of humanities. How did you bridge science and humanities, and why optics?

It’s true that I was brought up as an artist. I was exploring a new medium — holography — but I quickly became enamored with the science. Optical science opened the world for me.

 Susan Houde-Walter

Susan Houde-Walter

You’ve had a very distinguished entrepreneurial career that spans optics, lasers, and the defense industry. And congratulations on your recent National Women’s Hall of Fame Keeper of the Flame award. Is there anything you haven’t done that you’d still like to accomplish?

Thank you for your kind words. I launched LaserMaxDefense (LMD), an IP-rich manufacturer that hardens and miniaturizes laser systems, with particular expertise in quantum cascade laser technology, packaging, and devices. We are rapidly expanding our industry partnerships and I’m looking forward to our continued growth.

You’ve had such a creative and wide-ranging professional life. Do you miss optics?

Optics remains my passion, but I have found that I can have an immediate impact on the world through business. Business/trade is one of the most basic ways that people come together, and I've thoroughly enjoyed the challenge.

Published: September 2019
Optics Special SectionInstitute of Optics at the University of Rochester

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