About Eckhardt Optics
What started as a tiny company has grown over the past decade to become a group of engineers who are dedicated to providing high-quality custom optics quickly and at a reasonable cost. We have big dreams of streamlining the custom lens design and manufacturing process and we’re in the business of making little changes every day to bring that about. At Eckhardt Optics, your next optical engineering problem is our next challenge.
The company was founded back in 2009, when our CEO and chief lens designer, Steve, was given the opportunity to work remotely for an optics company in Boston. This flexibility gave him the opportunity to fill a large need for expertly designed custom lenses, a need that Eckhardt Optics has been fulfilling ever since. By 2012, Steve was too busy to continue working remotely and took on the business full time. Today, Eckhardt Optics is the world’s second largest designer and manufacturer of conoscopic lenses and a major contributor to test and measurement industry lenses.
Meet Our Team
Steve’s journey to a professional career in optics began in highschool. In his own words, “I was interested in astronomy, so I needed a telescope. Since I didn’t have money to buy one, I built one, which included grinding and polishing the mirror. Along the way, I studied to find out how to design a good telescope and discovered that I liked the theory better than the practice. When I got to college, I excitedly took my copy of Conrady’s Applied Optics and Optical Design into the optics professor’s office to tell him I couldn’t wait to study this subject. He thumbed through the book and told me I’d have to wait for grad school to study optics at that level. Four years later I started grad school in optical engineering and I’ve been working in the field ever since.”
Today, Steve is a world class lens designer with a PhD in Optics from the University of Arizona and thirty years of experience in optical engineering. His experience includes designing single element lenses to multi-element zoom lenses in wavelengths from the deep UV to the thermal IR. He has created test instruments for retroreflectivity, polarization, high illuminance weathering (life testing), and robotic assembly, as well as illumination systems for projectors and stage lighting (you can view the patents for several of these here). When Steve’s not reading or spending time with his grandkids he acts as president of Eckhardt Optics, chief lens designer, and walking dictionary of all things optical.
Matt began a career in optics after earning a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Minnesota-Morris and working for a forensic microscope company doing opto-mechanical assembly. During this time, he was given the opportunity to design several new, high end, custom microscopes and imaging systems. In his own words, “I was hooked!” A few years later he was hired as Eckhardt Optics’ second Optical Engineer.
Today, Matt has eight years of experience in optical design and manufacturing as well as forensic microscopy, fluorescence, multi-spectral imaging, and vision systems. Matt also has knowledge of optical-mechanical design, software integration and development, and optical testing techniques. But these skills are only part of what make Matt so valuable to us at Eckhardt Optics; as a company we love a challenge, and Matt’s love for solving problems and making things work fits perfectly with that value. When Matt’s not nerding out over diffraction limited lenses, you can find him at the beach with his kids.
Andrew is a creator and communicator at heart. After graduating with a degree in technical theater design, he spent time honing his customer relationship and marketing skills in Atlanta’s small business scene. Later, motivated by a strong desire to create, he returned to Minnesota to help grow Eckhardt Optics’ customer base and develop his design abilities.
Today, Andrew handles mechanical design, shipping, lens cleaning and assembly, customer aquisition and retention, supplier relations and sourcing. He has high hopes for the company’s future growth: “I want to help us get to the point where we can design and source excellent optics and mechanics and deliver completed assemblies in a surprisingly quick duration, at a surprisingly low price.” When Andrew’s not dreaming up ways to grow Eckhardt Optics you can find him tasting cheese or camping with his wife.
Nick has joined our team after concluding a co-op program in agricultural and robotics engineering in central Minnesota. After graduating with his B.S. in mechanical engineering, he’s excited to grow his career. But engineering is more than just a career for Nick; it’s been his passion since he was young. In his own words, “I chose to pursue education in engineering becasue I’ve always had a drive to figure our what made things tick. When I was young, I built paintball robots, computers, Arduino controlled smart-home devices, and modified my Nerf guns. Engineering seemed like a natural option to further develop my passion for designing and building mechanical systems.”
Today, whether it’s by supporting incoming quality control, testing product life, or writing software for our automated systems, Nick is excited to be at the forefront of opto-mechanical engineering. When he’s not at work, you can find him watching sci-fi movies and space documentaries.
Karly is a recent St. Mary’s University grad who discovered a passion for graphic design and marketing after interning as editor of her college’s literary magazine. After realizing that she loved staring at a computer screen for hours on end, making tiny, detailed changes, Karly was excited to do it professionally.
Today, Karly spends her days happily making those minute changes on Eckhardt Optics’ website. She also helps with assembly, marketing, copywriting, office banter, and technical writing. “I’m excited to create a website that does the high quality work produced here justice.” When she’s not obsessing over whether to use Helvetica Neue or PT Sans Pro, you can find her listening to martial arts podcasts or feeding her goldfish, Gil.
Not shown are the many part-time and contract employees without whose contributions this company could not exist. They perform tasks such as optical design, mechanical design, electronics design, programming, and system testing.
- Optical Engineer: Dave Stotzmann
- Electronics Engineer: James Kennedy, Jason Wagar
- Mechanical Designers: John Thomalla, Bill Haushalter
- Technicians: Josiah Smith
Their contributions are greatly appreciated.