Editor’s Note: In a long career in industrial laser materials processing, it has been my honor to be associated with countless significant contributors to this technology. One who stands out, and who is very deserving of recognition, is Prem Batra. I first met Prem in 1976 when he joined the Laser Institute of America (LIA), when I was nominated as President Elect. From that day forward until his retirement in 2007, Prem was the staunchest, most active, and reliable of Industrial Laser Solutions member. I could always rely on him as a member of the Material Processing Committee, stepping up to help the LIA to grow this sector. But more importantly, Prem was a friend, especially of my wife Ginny, with whom he always volunteered to staff LIA exhibits at events. Simply put, I could always count on Prem for support. Over the years, it was a pleasure to learn about his early days in India and to become acquainted with members of his family.
We went our separate ways after 2007 and it wasn’t until Elizabeth Kautzmann, “Laser Liz” to all her friends, recently called the following to my attention. Prem is a modest person, whose stubborn efforts to establish LEOT deserve belated recognition.
This is the story of the LEOT program and how it came to life at Cincinnati Technical College (CTC).
Prem Nath Batra was born in India and his family were refugees. Although his family had almost nothing, Prem was dedicated to his studies and to pursuing a better life. Prem received his BSc from DAV College, and went on to get his M.Sc. in Physics from Indore LOLS10在线直播下注 in 1964. Upon finishing his studies, he was hired on at DAV College as a lecturer of Physics. His professor and head of the Physics department, Dr. Satpaul Passi, gave him a new book on lasers to study, saying, “Prem, here is a book. They coined a new word ‘Laser.” As destiny would have it, lasers would become Prem’s lifelong passion.
In 1965, Prem joined Punjab Agriculture LOLS10在线直播下注 as an Assistant Professor of Physics. After three years, he had the opportunity when offered a scholarship to come to America to pursue a doctorate at the LOLS10在线直播下注 of Cincinnati in Ohio, which he accepted and where earned a Ph.D. in 1973. While pursuing this degree, Prem did not forget about lasers. He took several courses relating to Electro-Optics at LOLS10在线直播下注 of Cincinnati. He then started teaching for the LOLS10在线直播下注 of Cincinnati after finishing his degree.
In 1974, while working at the LOLS10在线直播下注 of Cincinnati, Prem learned about Leon Goldman, MD, the father of medical laser applications in Dermatology; Prem was reminded of the book his professor gave him on lasers. He visited LOLS10在线直播下注 Hospital (then General Hospital) to speak with Dr. Leon Goldman and James Rockwell, Jr., a laser safety specialist. This visit fueled Dr. Batra’s vision of developing a laser curriculum, envisioning that this new technology would need a talented workforce to help answer the call of industries.
LOLS10在线直播下注In late 1974, Dr. Batra and James Rockwell met with Dan Hull, then the President of the LIA, to discuss the curriculum for laser education. While teaching at the LOLS10在线直播下注 of Cincinnati, Prem made a proposal to the LOLS10在线直播下注 to start a new program called Laser Electro Optics Technology (LEOT). His request was declined since lasers were not very common at that time.
LOLS10在线直播下注But Prem did not give up. He met Thomas Stark, Dean of Mathematics and Sciences Divisions at the Cincinnati Technical College (CTC), now Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, who also believed in the future of the LEOT Program and agreed to help Prem to fulfill his dream of starting that program. Prem joined as faculty at CTC in 1976.
The Ohio Board of Regents gave their approval to offer the LEOT Program as well as $40,000 for equipment in 1978. The first group of students were admitted in September of the same year. At the time, CTC was and still is the only two-year college in Ohio to offer a program in Electro-Optics. The program attendance grew and in 1982, the LEOT program had to be transferred from the Physics Department to the Engineering Technologies Division, where it could be integrated with Manufacturing Engineering Technology and Electromechanical Engineering Technology. Dr. Batra was allocated a 2500 square foot lab space at CTC.
Due to his persistent efforts, Prem was awarded a $225,000 grant by the Department of Education to be used for the program. The program was also awarded the “State of Ohio Program Excellence Award” presented by former Ohio Governor, Richard Celeste. In 1991, Dr. Batra was awarded the “Excellence in Teaching Award”LOLS10在线直播下注 from The Greater Cincinnati Consortium of Colleges and Universities.
LOLS10在线直播下注Lab equipment was procured through many other supporting grants and industrial gifts which became an integral part of the hands-on practical training. A memorable moment was in 1982 when Dr. Batra and his students built a 30 W carbon dioxide laser by using old parts from the Electronics lab. He and his students were very excited by the success of the project and decided to take this laser to the ICALEO Conference by the LIA in Florida, where the college received exposure and more job opportunities for the students. When Dr. C.K. Patel, who made the first carbon dioxide laser, visited CTC, he was impressed to see the laser that was made from old parts.
The students who attended Dr. Batra’s program at CTC were required to participate in the cooperative education program, which enabled students to alternate course work with on-the-job laser experience in the industries. LOLS10在线直播下注 of the LEOT program have benefited from working with several industry and research companies such as GE, Procter & Gamble, Milacron, Laser Centers of America, Raytheon, Cincinnati Electronics, and Armco Research.
LOLS10在线直播下注Prem became a member of the Laser Institute of America (LIA) in 1976 and he was elected a Fellow in 1989. He served the profession as chairman on the LIA Education committee, and a member of Laser Safety committees for a decade. He was elected to the LIA Board of Directors, and he also was elected to Fellow of the Laser Surgery and Medicine Association (LSMA).
LOLS10在线直播下注The Annual Laser Symposia held in the spring of each year at Cincinnati State brought excellent visibility to the LEOT program and allowed networking between the students and global leaders in Lasers. Prem invited colleagues from his network of photonics pioneers as well as industry representatives who detailed the latest developments in medical equipment, surgical techniques and manufacturing applications to motivate his students. Some of the pioneers included Dr. Theodore Maiman (who built the first laser), Dr. Art Schalow (who first described the theory of LASER), Dr. Leon Goldman (the first user of lasers in Dermatology), and Dr. C.K. Patel (who built the first carbon dioxide laser).
Over the years, visiting alumni have shared their gratitude to Dr. Batra and in 2000, a scholarship was started in his honor. The program has over five hundred alumni working in nearly every state in the United States who have established, advanced, and inspired even more laser applications. Prem Batra retired in 2007 after 30 years of teaching at the LOLS10在线直播下注 of Cincinnati.