International Laser Community Honors Poprawe for Life's Work

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AACHEN, Germany, June 27, 2019 — Nearly 300 laser experts and colleagues gathered to honor retiring professor Reinhart Poprawe for his life’s work during a symposium in Germany on June 23, where he was recognized for shaping technological progress in photonics and bolstering the next generation of young talent for the industry.

At the symposium entitled “Digital Photonic Production and Industrie 4.0 and What It Means for Education and Research,” 280 laser professionals and peers paid tribute to Poprawe’s work as a professor of laser technology, and for his services in basic and contract research and in networking industry and science.
Prof. Reinhart Poprawe welcomes the 280 guests of the symposium “Digital Photonic Production and Industrie 4.0 and what it means for education and research.” Courtesy of Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany, Klaus D. Wolf.

Professor Reinhart Poprawe welcomes 280 guests at the “Digital Photonic Production and Industrie 4.0 and What It Means for Education and Research” symposium. Courtesy of Fraunhofer ILT/Klaus D. Wolf.

High-ranking representatives from science and industry also recognized Poprawe’s consistent and visionary work in photonics, as shown by his joint initiation of the RWTH Aachen University research campus. 

Poprawe's numerous awards include the Arthur L. Schawlow Award of the Laser Institute of America in 2014 and the honorary professorship of Tshingua University in Beijing in the same year.

He was particularly active in the U.S., China, and Japan, and his work was also honored with the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize in 1987, the Innovation Prize of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia in 2011, and recently with the Fraunhofer coin.

Poprawe’s students awarded him four times with the RWTH Teaching Award of the faculty of mechanical engineering. In his time as professor, he was also the first to assess over 200 doctorates.

In 1996, Poprawe was placed at the helm of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT and named the RWTH chair for laser technology.

Fraunhofer president Reimund Neugebauer said Poprawe was a key player in shaping the worldwide German laser industry because Proprawe laid the foundation for technology clusters before they became a common practice. As manager of the institute, Proprawe emphasized combining optical technologies, mechanical engineering, and process technology.

“Professor Poprawe embodies the Fraunhofer spirit through and through," Neugebauer said. "[He] has always viewed innovations with a focus on concrete applications.”

The spectrum of Fraunhofer ILT innovations during Poprawe’s tenure ranges from the development of InnoSlab lasers and the first diode-pumped multi-kW solid-state lasers for industrial applications, to the development and use of high-power ultrashort-pulse lasers, all the way to development of processes and systems for laser powder bed fusion and extreme high-speed laser material deposition.

Published: June 2019
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