Chief Technology Officer Allen Krisiloff shares some elements of his expertise and some suggestions for technical writing.
We at Circle Optics are an eclectic group of interesting people who are deeply curious and want to make a difference through optic innovation. Meet Chief Technology Officer, Allen Krisiloff.
Where did your interest in optics begin?
In the middle of the space race, I was in the third grade. I remember reading a book about astronauts in their bulbous suits, and I thought that was cool. I didn’t aspire to be an astronaut; I wanted to learn about space. I developed this keen interest in astronomy, and that was my entry to optics. A great deal of astronomy is about optics – the instruments here on Earth and in space collect radiation of various sorts from the heavens.
As an undergraduate at the University of Rochester, I was planning to get my PhD in astronomy. However, after the end of the Skylab program at NASA, there was a recession in astronomy, and astronomers were having trouble finding jobs at the time. I had a part-time job in the basement laboratory of the physics building on campus and creatively collided with an acquaintance of mine. He told me about a job opening in Gerard Mourou’s group at The Institute of Optics, Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE). The University of Rochester in the 1980s played an important role in the development of the field of ultrafast science and technology. Gérard Mourou, Arthur Ashkin, and Donna Strickland were awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics for their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses. It was exciting to be part of a research group devoted to pushing the limits of science and technology.
What are some professional highlights?
In 1993, I started Triptar Lens Company. Triptar designs, prototypes, and manufactures turn-key optical instruments, modules (sub-assemblies), and components for science and industry. Triptar works closely with customers to understand their needs and interests before designing and building solutions to their challenges.
The very first Triptar project was the design and manufacture of a laser line-projector to outline the profile of railroad tracks. When rails wear out there is a danger of derailment, so railroad companies are constantly inspecting and re-grinding their tracks. I was engaged to improve the optical subsystem for a rugged module that would mount underneath a train-car and improve the signal-to-noise ratio of a rail inspection system.
For another project, I developed an instrument for a computer controlled instrument to measure integrated circuits during complex interconnection tasks.
Triptar was hired to commercialize and develop the global distribution channels for a structured-light, confocal microscope technology that was originally developed at Oxford University.
Another project involved the development of the optical module used in a wafer alignment station. The first application for this device was the production of MEMS accelerometers to trigger the inflation of automotive air bags in the event of collision.
Today, at Circle Optics, we are working on detect-and-avoid (DAA) technology to prevent UAV collisions in the sky. Innovating optics technology that significantly enhances safety has been very rewarding.
What has led to your success in these innovations?
An important factor in my success has been the assembly of teams of engineers who have deep curiosity and specialized skills. I give these individuals creative freedom but also provide feedback. There are often many different ways to apply technology to solve a problem. I guide the technical decision making.
How did you get to Circle Optics?
By April of 2019, there were six people working at Circle Optics, and I was on the team as a consultant. As our projects increased in complexity and more strategic systems thinking was required, there was an unfulfilled need for technical leadership. It was a natural evolution for me to officially join the team as Chief Technology Officer. We are now moving from prototype to commercialization in some of our camera systems, and I look forward to supporting our operational strategy.
You have been an Adjunct Professor at Monroe Community College. What is your advice to your students?
Learn the fundamentals. This allows you to expand your understanding of new applications and new developments in the field.
Communication skills are also very important. In every academic and business environment, written and oral reports are critical for personal and corporate success.
Understanding the fundamentals about a topic is needed to articulate clearly with simple language. Buzz words don’t make sense if they are used incorrectly.
Additionally, the elements of a report must be expressed in a logical narrative that carries the reader, or the listener, from generalities to specifics. This creates a context in which the details can be understood.