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Narinder Singh Kapany, Dr


Jun 1, 2004
Dr. Narinder Singh Kapany, The father of Fiber Optics

Narinder Singh Kapany, Punjabi: ਨਰਿੰਦਰ ਸਿੰਘ is widely acknowledged as the father of optical fiber.[1][2] [3][4] Narinder Singh Kapany was born in Moga and is of Punjabi Sikh origin, he was educated in England and has spent over 45 years in the United States. He was named as one of the seven 'Unsung Heroes' by Fortune magazine in their ‘Businessmen of the Century’ issue (1999-11-22).

Early life

Born in Moga, Punjab, India and educated in India and England, Kapany has lived in the United States for forty-five years. In 1952, this earlier work led Kapany to conduct studies that led to the invention of optical fiber. A graduate of Agra University in India, he completed advanced studies in optics, and Ph.D. degree at Imperial College London in 1955.

His career has spanned science, entrepreneurship and management, academia, publishing, lecturing, and farming. His personal interests include philanthropy, art collecting, and sculpting.

As a scientist, Kapany is acknowledged by many to be the father of fiber-optics.[1][2] [3][5] His research and inventions have encompassed fiber-optics communications, lasers, biomedical instrumentation, solar energy and pollution monitoring. He has over one hundred patents, and was a member of the National Inventors Council. He has received many awards including 'The Excellence 2000 Award' from the USA Pan-Asian American Chamber of Commerce in 1998. He is a Fellow of numerous scientific societies including the British Royal Academy of Engineering, the Optical Society of America, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Kapany lives in the Bay Area with his wife, Satinder. His son, Rajinder, is a hi-tech executive; and his daughter, Kiren, is an attorney and filmmaker.

Businessman & entrepreneur
As an entrepreneur and business executive, Kapany has specialized in the processes of innovation and the management of technology and technology transfer. In 1960, he founded Optics Technology Inc. and was Chairman of the Board, President, and Director of Research for twelve years. In 1967 the company went public with numerous corporate acquisitions and joint-ventures in the United States and abroad. In 1973, Kapany founded Kaptron Inc. and was President and CEO until 1990 when he sold the company to AMP Incorporated. For the next nine years, Kapany was an AMP Fellow, heading the Intrapreneur & Technical Expert Program and serving as Chief Technologist for Global Communications Business. He recently founded K2 Optronics. He has also served on the boards of various companies. He was a member of the Young Presidents Organization and is presently a member of the World Presidents Organization.

As an academic, Kapany has taught and supervised research activity of postgraduate students. He was a Regents Professor at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), and at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). He was also Director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Development (CIED) at UCSC for seven years. At Stanford University, he was a Visiting Scholar in the Physics Department and Consulting Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering.

Research scholar

As an author and lecturer, Kapany has published over 100 scientific papers and four books on opto-electronics and entrepreneurship. He has lectured to various national and international scientific societies.

Dr. Kapany being awarded by former Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee

As a philanthropist, Kapany has been active in education and the arts. He has been the founding chairman and major funder of the Sikh Foundation and its activities for over 30 years.[6] In collaboration with international institutions and publishers, the Foundation runs programs in publishing, academia and the arts. In 1998, Kapany endowed a Chair of Sikh Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His gift in 1999 of $500,000 to the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco will establish a gallery in its new building displaying the works he has donated from his collection of Sikh art. In 1999, he endowed a Chair of Opto-Electronics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is also trustee of the University of California, Santa Cruz Foundation. He has served as a trustee of the Menlo School in Menlo Park, California.

As an art collector, Kapany has specialized in Sikh art, a field which he entered at the suggestion of controversial Sikh scholar Harjot Oberoi. He provided paintings and other objects on loan for the internationally acclaimed 'Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms' exhibition, which was held at London's Victoria & Albert Museum beginning in March 1999; from there, the exhibition proceeded to the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco (with the Sikh Foundation as a sponsor) and opened in May 2000 at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. The exhibition follows 'Splendors of the Punjab: Sikh Art and Literature in 1992' organized by Kapany in collaboration with the Asian Art Museum and UC Berkeley to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Sikh Foundation.

His Sikh-related philanthropic activities have, however, been the subject of much controversy within the Sikh community: many Sikhs have criticised his tendency endow projects named after him and family members only partially, leaving the community to raise the remainder of the funds. Kapany's involvement with 'The Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms' was particularly controversial, as his public promises at the exhibition's major fundraising dinner to raise the entire costs of the exhibition were never fulfilled.

As an artist, Kapany has created 40 "dynoptic" sculptures which were first displayed in a one-man show at the Exploratorium of the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco in 1972. Since then, the collection has been viewed at museums and art galleries in Chicago, Monterey, Palo Alto, and Stanford.

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