About Me

Proof of Concept Optical Engineering

Hello!  I’m Donna Waters, the optical design consultant you’ll be working with. 

A little about myself:

Throughout the 90’s, I worked as an R&D scientist in photovoltaics, photoelectrochemistry, and ultrafast laser spectroscopy, with research stints at NASA-Ames, Sandia National Labs, UCSC Chemistry Dept., ZAE-Bayern, and NREL.  During that time, I earned BS and MS Physics degrees at UC Santa Cruz. 

In 2000, I began working as a staff physicist at Wave Optics, a fiber optics startup in the Bay Area.  After the Dotcom Bust, I headed to Florida to work on my MS Optics at UCF School of Optics (CREOL).  Having done some ASAP raytracing at the Florida Solar Energy Center, I was hired upon graduation as a stray light analyst by Ball Aerospace in Colorado.  

Over the years, the scope of my work at Ball expanded from stray light into optical design and image processing.  Though my title was always “optical engineer”, I concurrently worked requirements flowdown on a multibillion-dollar lasercom program for a couple of years.  From that, I gained a good understanding of how the various elements of a project (optical, thermal, structural, electronics, etc.) are interwoven and how trades can be made between them to meet top-level system requirements with minimal risk and effort.

In early 2013, leveraging those two decades of experience, I made the leap into full-time consulting as Proof of Concept Optical Engineering.  This third decade has been the best of my career so far.  I love working directly with customers, especially the entrepreneurs, and wouldn’t have it any other way.  Sometimes I think my career path has been a little crazy, but no other path could have prepared me as well for solving the variety of problems that I see day-to-day as an optical design consultant.

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