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Meet Materion: Bob Sprague


Bob SpragueMaterion’s Director of Technology, Robert Sprague, has been with the company for over 15 years, back to when it was still the former Barr Associates. He is responsible for the Rapid Development Center and reports to Ian Tribick, Vice President/CTO/COO. Bob was educated at the University of Arizona, and holds PhD and Masters degrees in Optical Science, as well as a BS in Physics.

Before coming to Materion, Bob worked in a range of interesting technical positions in widespread locations. He worked in the Mining field as an analytical chemist, in optical research at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington, DC, as a thin film researcher at the Ecole Nationale Superieure de Physique de Marseille, France and at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.

With a mother who is an accomplished painter, it was natural for Bob to attend an Arts High School. There he was exposed to the dynamics of ceramic firing and the transformative processes that turn mud into glass via physical/chemical reactions. That piqued his initial interest in physics and chemistry, which he later pursued in college in lieu of a career as a starving artist.

After beginning his employment in the mining industry, Bob returned to the University of Arizona to obtain a Masters degree in Chemistry. However, as a laboratory assistant under the tutelage of Dr. Angus Macleod, he switched to the study of Optical Science. Macleod is a world-renowned expert in optical thin film physics and author of the definitive text on the subject “Thin Film Optical Filters,” now in its fourth edition.   Bob has been pursuing the constructive use of destructive interference ever since.

On the personal side, Bob is married to wife Carolyn and has a 14 year old son, Parker.  He is a big fan of outdoor activities with an interest in diverse sports ranging from mountain & road biking, skiing, hiking, camping and all kinds of boating, from kayaking, sailing, canoeing or plain rowing. When he finds time, he also enjoys woodworking.

Bob is focusing on some new product goals at Materion and commented, “I have found that the optical thin film field is constantly evolving, with new requirements, new methods and new challenges. I am not worried about waking up one morning and saying, OK we've solved the thin film problem, what am I going to do now!” 

To contact Bob, email: