Harold R. Kaufman (1926-2018) - A Distinguished Career and an Exemplary Life

Friends and colleagues of Harold Kaufman are celebrating his life while mourning the loss of this great man. While living a life rich with achievement and full of knowledge, Harold touched and enriched the lives and work of many people. His research, work, and pioneering advances in science impacted many fields, beginning with the invention of the Electron Bombardment Ion Thruster at NASA in 1959. www.nasa.gov/feature/dr-harold-r-kaufman Harold received numerous awards during his long career, culminating with his induction into the NASA Glenn Research Center Hall of Fame in 2016.

After leaving NASA, Harold became a professor of both Physics and Mechanical Engineering at Colorado State University, where he eventually became the Chair of the Physics Department. During his free time and summers, he was also a consultant for IBM. After retiring from Colorado State University, Harold founded Kaufman & Robinson, Inc. in 1978, where he continued to be a prolific inventor with many patents and scientific publications to his credit.

The Electron Bombardment Ion Thruster was invented for use in space, but it became the basis for what is now called the Kaufman Ion Source, which has various ground-based applications, such as ion beam sputtering, ion-assisted deposition, and ion beam etching. He also developed the end-Hall Ion Source, which became a standard for ion-assisted deposition of thin films. Despite his many accolades, he was very modest about his achievements and insisted on being called Harold instead of Dr. Kaufman. He was a wonderful colleague, mentor, and friend, as well as a devoted husband, father, and grandfather.

While his academic and professional accomplishments are outstanding, it is his insightful leadership that will be missed most by those who worked with him at Kaufman & Robinson. Harold was a constant learner and inexhaustible researcher. He continued working his entire life, because he believed it necessary to continue to exercise his mind to keep it sharp.

Dr. Kaufman’s life work is a foundation that the board and employees at Kaufman & Robinson plan to continue building. Harold and the management team worked for many years to develop and implement a business succession plan. They built this plan around his vision for the company and its role within the industry he helped create. The company will continue to hold true to his vision, and his legacy will continue through the work of his friends and employees at KRI for generations to come.