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Marquette University Alumni Association

College of Engineering Award Recipients

Entrepreneurial Award

Francis LueckeFRANCIS S. LUECKE, ENG '67

Crestwood, Ky.

Frank Luecke grew up in rural west Kansas working with his dad to develop machines that made their farm work less arduous.

“Laziness is the mother of invention,” he says.

With more than 30 U.S. patents and 48 published inventions to his name, Frank must be one of the laziest men alive. We, however, think a better word for it is entrepreneurial.

Frank and his wife, Jo Ann, own FrankDesign LLC, the consulting engineering firm they founded to create and prototype devices for a variety of client needs. In 1990, Frank co-founded New Focus Inc., a company that inauspiciously started in his garage. It grew to be an industry leader in providing photonics tools for semiconductor equipment and biomedical, industrial, test and measurement, and advanced research applications.

“I particularly cherish the aha moments when the solution to a knotty problem suddenly becomes apparent,” Frank says. “It is in many ways easier to do this work than not. Creating a new design is nearly a spectator sport at times.”

He credits Marquette with giving him the tools for analysis and requisite credentials that helped him advance his career.

Frank is now retired, but he and Jo Ann mentor their local high school FIRST Robotics team.

“Hands-on experience is an essential component of learning,” he says. “So we work to encourage physical interaction between students and the real stuff of technology.”

Fun fact: For several years, Frank thought the title of an engineer was scientist. He says he felt innately connected to machines of all sorts, along with noticing that machines can make hard labor — such as farming — easier.