Don Keck's research alongside two other Corning scientists -- Robert Maurer and Peter Schultz -- transformed the communications industry and thrust Corning Incorporated to the forefront of the communications revolution. Their work on waveguide attenuation and the dispersion and measurement of the optical properties of fibers in 1970 led to the commercialization of optical fiber waveguides and Corning's move into photonics.
When Keck arrived at Corning Incorporated in 1968, fresh out of the Michigan State University with a Ph.D. in Physics, optical communication technology -- the transmission of electrical impulses and light through thin strands of glass -- was still a distant dream and barely on Corning's innovation radar screen.
But just one year later, Keck was working alone one evening in his laboratory and made a giant technology leap that catapulted Corning and his fellow researchers to fiber optic fame.
In 2000, Don and his colleagues’ achievements were recognized by the world. They received the National Medal of Technology, the highest honor bestowed by the President of the United States to America's leading innovators who have made lasting contributions to enhancing America's competitiveness and standard of living.
Looking back, Keck feels that there was something mystical about how he came to Corning. "I feel it was a kind of serendipitous luck that has accompanied me through life,” he said. "I was assigned to the right project, landed in the right organization and worked with the right group of people."
He views his place in Corning's history as one individual among many who have contributed to Corning's 160-year legacy of innovation.