BLS Featured CLSO: Robert Mueller
Tell us about yourself
I am Robert Mueller; married, father of three.
Academic degrees earned:
1984 – H.B.Sc. Physics, Lakehead University
1986 – M.Sc. Laser Physics, U. of. Toronto
1994 – Ph.D., York University (Toronto), Laser – Material Interaction
I am a senior laser application specialist at Massiv Automated Systems, a division of Magna International. Massiv Automated is a systems integration group fothe auto body structures division of Magna.
I also do some consulting through my company, Lasers-at- Work Consulting.
When did you start working with lasers?
My first real exposure to lasers was during a summer job in 1984, just after
completing my undergraduate degree, at the Canadian Defence Research Centre in
Ottawa. The lab was developing a CARS laser spectroscopy system to map
temperatures within a diesel engine. The driver for this system was a megawatt Q-
switched YAG laser. The system could not be operated on humid days because we
would get air breakdown (a spark) at the laser focus. Stray reflections were able to
burn holes in your shirt.
The safety protocols around this laser were justifiably strict, including a requirement
for baseline retinal photographs before being allowed to work with the laser. That
summer taught me a healthy respect for the capabilities of laser light. I have been
working with lasers continually ever since.
How did you become the LSO?
I took the LIA LSO with Hazard Analysis course in 2000. The company I worked for
at the time had five Ph.D. laser experts on staff, so we did not assign a formal LSO.
As I moved on in the system integration industry, I ended up being the most
experienced laser person on staff, and was handed the LSO role as part of my duties.
I have never been a full-time LSO, but it is part of what I do.
Do you like being the LSO?
Yes, I do like being the LSO. I believe the biggest challenge of being today’s LSO is saying current with every changing regulation in the healthcare setting.
How has becoming certified helped you in your career?
When working for a company full time, the CLSO designation is not highly valued.
Management knows my capabilities and expects me to perform. The CLSO
designation may have helped initially during the hiring process.
Where the CLSO designation is useful is in my consulting work. Companies are
looking for expertise and the CLSO designation shows I have the training and
experience to help them with their laser safety needs.