Prof Bill Steen presented with the AILU Award 2005
by Dr Paul Hilton
The AILU AWARD for 2005
Prof Bill Steen
This Award is an outstanding contribution to the industrial use of laser in the UK.
It could not be more fitting; that in AILU's 10th Anniversary year the man who was AILU's first President and who led the Association through its first 8 years, received the coveted 2005 Award, presented at the AGM at RAF Cranwell on 10 April.
Prof Lin Li, one of the selection committee, summed it up "Bill's influence on the uptake of laser technology is recognised worldwide. His main contributions have been in science and technology, education and dissemination. He pioneered powder feed cladding developed in the 1970s and 80s, he has supervised countless PhD students both at Imperial College, London and at Liverpool University, and he is an enthusiastic disseminator of laser applications and an inspiration to all who hear him."
Bill's research into laser materials processing started in 1968 with studies in laser chemical vapour deposition. The small research group he ran then was one of the first in the world studying this aspect of laser engineering. The group grew to over 20 scientists at Imperial College and then moved, in 1998, to Liverpool.
In 1998, when Bill retired, the Liverpool group had over 30 people working on most aspects of laser materials processing, the group had over 280 publications with 15 patents and 38 PhD theses and had attracted almost £6M of funding, making it one of the senior research facilities in laser materials processing in the UK.
Bill, along with Ken Watkins, was responsible for the start of a Laser Engineering Centre in the Lairdside area of Birkenhead. This facility, which currently employs some 9 people, deals with the industrial aspect of the research in laser material processing currently undertaken at Liverpool University.
In 1996, Bill was awarded the Arthur L Schawlow Award by the Laser Institute of America for his leading work in laser materials processing.
Although Bill has now "retired", he remains active as well as a member of the AILU committee. He is a Distinguished Research Fellow in the Material Science and Metallurgy Department, University of Cambridge, Chairman of the Laser Engineering Centre in Lairdside and an editor of several laser magazines and journals