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At the University of Rochester in New York, the mission of the Robert E. Hopkins Center for Optical Design and Engineering is to provide an educational research experience that prepares and inspires future leaders in the field of optics. To help support this mission, the Robert S. Hilbert Memorial Telescope was recently dedicated and welcomed to the center. The telescope is named in honor of Robert Hilbert (1941-2008), former president and chief executive officer of Optical Research Associates (now the Optical Solutions Group at Synopsys), who was deeply committed throughout his career to fostering technical innovation in optics and supporting optics education. The legacy of Hilbert's commitment is sustained through the Optical Solutions Group (OSG) at Synopsys, which helped to fund the development and fabrication of the telescope. Additionally, OSG supports a variety of educational programs, including an annual student optical design competition and travel grants for students to attend major optics conferences, also named in honor of Hilbert.
The Robert S. Hilbert Memorial Telescope is a major asset in providing undergraduate and graduate students with a valuable learning and research tool. Its unique, multi-functional design provides a challenging learning experience for students and helps teach practical, real-world skills in optical testing and alignment. The telescope is now permanently housed in the Robert .E. Hopkins metrology lab, in the Institute of Optics. The facility also houses 25 workstations where undergraduate students learn optical design and analysis using Synopsys CODE V and LightTools software design products.
The telescope's design is based on a Ritchey-Chrétien form, which is a more sophisticated design than the Cassegrain and Maksutov forms, more commonly used in amateur astronomy. It was specifically developed not only to teach important fundamental optics skills to both undergraduate and graduate students, but also to serve as a research tool to develop data supporting innovative software developments used in conjunction with Synopsys' CODE V. Dr. Kevin Thompson, group director of research and development at OSG, collaborated with Professor Jannick Rolland at the University of Rochester to support the optical design research.
"This telescope will honor Bob Hilbert's dedication to optics and optical engineering," said Dr. Thompson. "It will form the foundation for an important expansion to the R.E. Hopkins Center to include advanced optical testing."