A Tribute to Jay Eastman

Jay EastmanLuminate, the Rochester community, and the entire optics, photonics, and imaging industry lost an amazing engineer, educator, entrepreneur, and friend on April 20, 2023 with the passing of Jay Eastman.

Those who knew Jay marveled at his brilliance, humility, and selflessness — a rare combination that left an impact on many individuals and organizations around the world.

“Jay was a friend, mentor, and one of the most generous people I have ever worked with,” shares Dr. Sujatha Ramanujan, Managing Director at Luminate. “He gave his time and extensive talent to support Luminate teams, and he was completely committed to helping them succeed.”

This level of dedication was born out of Jay’s passion for both business and innovation. After earning his PhD in optical engineering from the University of Rochester, he relocated to Mt. View, California for a time. But his ties to Rochester were strong. He later returned to manage the engineering division of the Laboratory for Laser Energetics at the University of Rochester, where he subsequently became the lab’s Director. Jay was also an avid educator at the university, teaching classes in entrepreneurship, product development, and technical management within the Kaufmann Entrepreneurship BS program and the Technical Engineering and Management MS program at the Institute of Optics and the Simon School of Business.

During his career, Jay founded three companies and was an inventor or co-inventor on 48 issued U.S. patents. Most recently, he worked alongside his son as co-founders of Optel, Inc., which develops and manufactures medical devices for third-party medical companies.

Jay was a pillar in Rochester’s global reputation,” explains Dr. Damon Diehl, Director of Technology Integration at Luminate. “Optel’s design craftsmanship and creativity helped many of our Luminate companies move from prototype to manufacturability. Jay was a tireless supporter and promoter for Luminate since its inception. There aren’t words for how much he will be missed.”

Outside of work, Jay was equally accomplished. He was on the Board of Directors of The National Women’s Hall of Fame, and an active member of Optica, SPIE, and the Rochester Engineering Society. He served on the National Academy of Science, Board of Assessment of NIST Programs, and Panel for Physics, and he worked for many years on the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council to support the region’s growing OPI industry. Through the years, he was recognized for his many contributions, including becoming a recipient of the Leo H. East Memorial Engineer of the Year Award, RIT’s Vanden Bruhl Entrepreneurial Award, and the Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster Leadership Award.

“In addition to the time I spent working with Jay, I also had the pleasure of serving with him on The National Women’s Hall of Fame Board, where he gave generously of his time and effort to help the museum,” says Sujatha. “He loved his town of Seneca Falls and was dedicated to elevating its remarkable history and continued significance.”

For fun, Jay loved spending time with his family, as well as being on Cayuga Lake, racing cars, traveling, and repairing things.

There are so many ways Jay had an impact on people,” Sujatha adds. “Most of all, he was a friend who I could always laugh with. That’s how I’d like to remember him.”


Jay M. Eastman, 1948 – April 20, 2023