2003 Distinguished Service Award: Kenneth Blaedel

// Mechanical Engineering

Tags: alumni, Engineers' Day, Kenneth Blaedel, ME E-Day

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Kenneth L. Blaedel
Engineer, EUVL Photomask Program (Retired)
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
BSME ’70

Precision engineering — the ability to manufacture parts to exacting standards — has earned Kenneth Blaedel a worldwide reputation for excellence in the field.

Blaedel enjoyed a 28-year career at Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL), which started shortly after receiving his doctorate in mechanical engineering from UW-Madison in 1974. Blaedel earned his BS in mechanical engineering from UW-Madison in 1970.

At Lawrence Livermore, he designed and built a number of high-accuracy machine tools. The machines have been used by LLNL as well as the automotive, electronics and optics industries. The components they produced have been used in space- and ground-based telescopes, nuclear weapons, magnetic recording heads, and automotive engine fuel injectors. In many cases, the components have been among the most precise ever made. Other tools have also garnered awards such as the “OptiPro-AED Proximity Sensor,” developed by Blaedel and his colleagues at Lawrence Livermore, which R&D Magazine named as one of the top 100 technological achievements in 1998.

Blaedel served in several leadership posts at the national laboratory. As leader of the Precision Systems Group, he was responsible for developing a cadre of precision engineers at LLNL. Later, as leader of the Center for Precision Engineering, he was responsible for developing and investing in new precision-engineering technologies at LLNL.

Blaedel is a charter member of the American Society for Precision Engineering, serving on the board of directors, the journal publication review committee and the organizing committee for annual conferences. In addition, he has taught tutorials on precision engineering for the society.

Blaedel is also a member of the American National Standards Institute, where he has served as chairman of standards-setting committees.

In his time away from work, Blaedel races bicycles, motorcycles, and automobiles, and practices Jujutsu, a defensive martial art. He regularly shoots in high-power rifle matches throughout California, and travels extensively throughout the country and the world with his wife, Jan.

Having retired from Lawrence Livermore in 2002, his first official act of retirement was to join former COE Dean John Bollinger in sailing from San Francisco to San Diego.