Meet Materion: Thomas Mooney
For almost 35 years, Thomas Mooney has been interacting with scientists, astronomers and engineers from national space agencies, major astronomical observatories and universities. As Product Engineering Manager, Space and Astronomy, for Materion (formerly Barr Associates) in Westford, MA, these long-term relationships have allowed him to relate to customer needs on a personal level. In his current position, Tom reports to Kevin Downing, Director of Defense & Space, Science & Astronomy Business.
On a typical day, Tom’s work may range from: developing a proposal for a filter set for the next European Space Agency science mission; responding to technical questions from a scientist at NASA; discussing optional approaches to a filter problem from an engineer at a Japanese observatory; or guiding a Materion technology development. His current focus is on highlighting services for Materion’s new Large Optics coater.
As part of his job, it is critical that Tom stay abreast of technology both at Materion and in the space and astronomy community. “In this market, it is very important to understand the customer’s technical requirements and the context of Materion filters and coatings within the customer’s system. Each of their space missions can represent a scientist’s life work.”
In the space field, Tom has some interesting work reminiscences. On his first project, he was engineer for a small filter set used in SAGE II, an atmospheric “sounder” built by Ball Aerospace for NASA. Exactly 30 years later, he served as project manager for the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) filter arrays - again for Ball. His Ball counterpart was the same engineer he had worked with on SAGE II so many years before.
Tom has the distinction of having worked on filters for all three Hubble imagers alongside JPL and NASA engineers and scientists. (Wide Field Planetary Camera II (1992), Advanced Camera for Surveys (1999) and Wide Field Camera 3 (2005).Other NASA mission projects include: filters for the Cassini mission to Saturn and the Galileo mission to Jupiter.
At the beginning of his career, Tom studied mechanical engineering (a field he never practiced) at Northeastern University, Boston, MA. But after being introduced to optical thin film manufacturing in a lab at Baird Associates - he never looked back! After Army service, Tom worked at several companies in optical thin films including Spectra Physics (Mountain View, CA), and Honeywell Systems & Research Center (Minneapolis, MN), before his long-time employment with Barr (later Materion).
While essentially a native Bostonian, Tom has enjoyed considerable time each year traveling to such countries as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Burma. He has been married since 1982 and has two grown daughters, one living in New York and the near Boston.
Even with all his years on the job, Tom never gets bored. He summarized this way: “Our customers consistently challenge us with new and always more difficult requirements. This keeps us on our toes! It is great to work at a well recognized company with a stellar heritage that stays on the cutting edge of technology.”