At the University of Kentucky's 146th Commencement Ceremonies A&S alum Robert Milton Huffaker was honored with an honorary doctorate degree. The following was read at the ceremony in honor of his degree:
Robert Milton Huffaker, a native of Wayne County, Kentucky, has spent more than a half century in a varied and distinguished career as a physicist, a company founder and CEO, and a philanthropist positively impacting a number of charitable activities and organizations in the United States and abroad.
After earning his Bachelor of Science in physics at the University of Kentucky in 1957, Huffaker pursued graduate studies at UK before accepting a position at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center where he worked for 15 years beginning in 1961. He rose to become chief of the Physics Section and project manager, directing programs in specifying the thermal environment of the Saturn launch vehicles, as well as areas in lunar physics involving re-entry fluid mechanics. Later, Huffaker initiated and directed the development of laser Doppler systems for aerodynamic applications.
Huffaker moved to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as project manager In 1976,. During his eight years at NOAA, the design of space-based systems for global wind field mapping was established. And, the first ground-based, threedimensional wind field measurement system was developed using coherent laser radar technology.
In 1984, Huffaker founded Coherent Technologies, Incorporated (CTI) to develop Doppler laser radar technology and systems for meteorological and military applications. CTI pioneered numerous achievements in coherent laser radar and over the next two decades, grew at an average rate of 30 percent per year before being acquired by Lockheed Martin Company in 2005.
In 2006, Huffaker founded Coherent Investments, LLC, where he serves as manager. Coherent Investments provides guidance, support, and capital in order to assist companies that are in their early stages of development.
The recipient of numerous awards, Huffaker was inducted into the UK College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Hall of Fame in 2008. He has been a prolific contributor to the advancement of the field of physics, with many highly regarded and well-read scientific publications and papers.
Always eager to help others, Huffaker co-founded the Second Step Program of the Emergency Family Assistance Association in the mid-1980s. The Colorado resident also is founder and chair of the board of the Forward Steps Foundation, a public charity which supports the population of youth between the ages of 18 and 21 emerging from the Colorado Foster Care System. In addition, he is founder and chair of the Realizing
Aptitudes Foundation that assists high school and beginning college students with career guidance. While devoting his time and sharing his expertise in these various efforts, Huffaker also has donated well over $3 million to these and other nonprofit agencies.
Robert Milton Huffaker is recommended for an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Kentucky.
Photo: Robert Milton Huffaker being inducted into the College of Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame in 2008.