- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 5, 2005

To William F. Ryan, conventions are more than just a weekend event. They are his life.

As the new senior director of conventions and meetings for the Optical Society of America (OSA), Mr. Ryan is able to transform his passion for science and technology into something others can enjoy.

The OSA is an international network of optics and photonics scientists, engineers, technicians and business leaders. The District-based society, founded in 1916, holds various conferences and expositions throughout the year to promote the use of optics and photonics in the workplace.

“Optics have evolved over the years,” Mr. Ryan said. “Many people think you’re talking about eyeglasses when you mention the OSA, but optics are present every day. They’re in the computer on your desk and the lights in your car.”

Mr. Ryan is responsible for managing the 30 meetings and conferences that the OSA sponsors every year. Attendance at these events can range anywhere from 150 people to 15,000, he said, depending on the topic.

One of the conferences that Mr. Ryan oversees is the Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exposition/National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference, which draws more than 15,000 attendees and 650 exhibitors.

“Will is well-prepared to help OSA deliver events that provide the world’s best technical programming and business opportunities in service to those with an interest in optics and photonics,” said Elizabeth Rogan, OSA’s executive director.

One of the challenges of Mr. Ryan’s job is looking for new ways to plan programs that are of interest to OSA members.

“I look for new topics in the optics field and bring the best and brightest minds together to discuss that topic. If it’s important to the members, it’s important to me,” he said.

When he’s not planning the next big event, the Alexandria resident is looking for ways to expand the OSA’s membership.

“Oftentimes, there are small changes that can be made to internal processes that may make it possible for the organization to expand offerings and unearth new ideas,” he said.

Part of what drew him to the OSA was the society’s diverse membership and the chance to work with people who are passionate about their science.

“It’s a really vibrant organization,” he said. “I have the chance to work with scientific engineers and Nobel Peace Prize winners.”

Mr. Ryan previously worked for the American Society for Engineering Education, where he was a member of the senior management team.

Melissa Brosk

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