Willem "Bill" Brouwer Endowed Fellowship


Established in 2019 to provide fellowship support for students enrolled in the Ph.D. in Imaging Science program. Funds will be used to pay student stipend, travel, and other direct student expenses related to research for this doctoral program. The fellowship is renewable.

Eligible students must be enrolled full time in the Imaging Science Ph.D. program. Other criteria will be determined by the Carlson Center for Imaging Science.

In the event there are no eligible students from this program, the fund will be used to support students in the most closely related/any area of study at RIT.


Through this fellowship, the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science wishes to honor its first director, Willem "Bill" Brouwer. Dr. Bill Brouwer joined RIT in 1983 as a visiting professor and was the founding director of the Carlson Center for Imaging Science. He came to RIT after a distinguished career as a designer of high-performance optical systems as the founder and president of Diffraction Limited, a private company in Bedford, Massachusetts that designed ultra-high-performance optical systems for industry and government customers. Among the systems he designed were the navigational sextant for the U2 ultra-high altitude reconnaissance aircraft and the long-range optical system in the SR-71 long-range reconnaissance aircraft.

Bill was also the inventor of the now-ubiquitous matrix method in geometrical optics. The subject of his doctoral dissertation, Bill first taught the method in courses at Boston University in the 1960s, where he met Edward O'Neill, a pioneer in the field of Fourier optics. Bill and Ed learned each other's topics by 'swapping' courses at BU - knowing that the best way to learn a topic deeply was to teach it. Bill eventually shared the methods he developed as a graduate student in the monograph Matrix Methods in Optical Instrument Design, which was published in 1964 in the `Lecture Notes and Supplements in Physics'.

Bill was a gifted teacher and mentor; a number of former students owe him a debt of gratitude for his introduction to the worlds of imaging, optics, and research. In his memoir, My Odyssey, The Life of a Dutch Boy Born in Indonesia, he wrote:

"I tell my students that to learn anything, they should first sit down with a glass of Chablis and think of how they would attack the problem. This lesson has served me very well in life."


The fellowship currently has $151,651 committed towards a goal of $500,000.