Jason Eichenholz ’95MS ’98PhD, courtesy faculty member in CREOL, the UCF College of Optics and Photonics and co-founder and chief technology officer of Luminar Technologies is among 162 academic inventors who will be inducted in the 2023 National Academy of Inventors (NAI). This makes Eichenholz the 19th UCF researcher to join the organization. The honorees will be inducted as NAI Fellows during the NAI 13th annual meeting in Raleigh, North Carolina, on June 18, 2024.

Election as an Academy Fellow is the highest professional distinction awarded solely to inventors, and honors their contributions to science, society and consumer technologies. This year’s class of fellows include 162 individuals representing 35 U.S. states and 10 countries.

“This year’s class of NAI Fellows showcases the caliber of researchers that are found within the innovation ecosystem … [and] in conjunction with our existing fellows, are creating innovations that are driving crucial advancements across a variety of disciplines and are stimulating the global and national economy in immeasurable ways,” says Paul Sanberg, president and founder of the NAI.

In the realm of laser and optics-enabled innovations, product development and commercialization, you’ll find Eichenholz who is not only making groundbreaking discoveries that are transforming various fields, but also is revolutionizing the automotive industry through his innovations in lidar technology. Light Detection and Ranging, or lidar, is a sensing method that uses light to measure distance and enable autonomous vehicles to detect or “see” their surroundings. Eichenholz’s current work focuses on developing more efficient and affordable methods of this technology. This advancement is paving the way for safe and fully autonomous vehicles, ushering in a new era of transportation and earning Luminar partnerships with Mercedes, Volvo and more than a dozen other autonomous vehicle programs.

Eichenholz holds more than 83 U.S. patents on new types of lidar, solid-state lasers, displays and photonic devices, showcasing his dedication to the world of science, environment and industry. His commitment to advancing technology and exploring the frontiers of what can be achieved has earned him esteemed accolades such as being a fellow of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, and a fellow of the national optics society Optica. He is also among the 2023 inductees of the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame and the Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine of Florida.

“My passion has been in making the world a better place,” Eichenholz says. “Over the past 25 years I have led the development of hundreds of millions of dollars of revolutionary new photonics and photonic-enabled products spanning applications from autonomous vehicles, battlefield explosives detection, early cancer detection, new drug delivery systems, and environmental studies from the depths of the oceans to the top of Mount Everest and even on the moon and Mars.”

Completing his master’s and doctoral degrees at UCF, Eichenholz remains connected to the university while serving as a courtesy faculty member of CREOL, and as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Boards of CREOL and the UCF College of Engineering and Computer Science. He recruits UCF students and graduates for internships and careers at Luminar Technologies.

Driven by a deep passion for uplifting and empowering his community, Eichenholz, an Orlando resident, is applying his entrepreneurial energy toward his next big venture: creating the world’s most comprehensive, intentional community for adults with autism. Named after his son, Jonathan’s Landing will be built in Orlando and provide a real-life solution to what parents and caregivers of adults with autism face — particularly when affected individuals age out of critical care and services at 21.

While working on this long-term dream, Eichenholz has already begun serving individuals with autism and other hidden disabilities — including Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder — through a program called Events With Jonathan (EWJ). As an official community partner of the Orlando Magic, EWJ has made gifted corporate suites sensory-friendly to provide inclusive game experiences for hundreds of individuals.

Eichenholz thinks about his life in three chapters, with the first being his formal technical education training, the second being his professional career spent applying technology to solve important problems and now the third chapter which he dedicates to moving from a life of success to significance.

“I am most excited about my ‘chapter three’ and the amazing things I can do next in moving from … reputation building to legacy building and doing so by leveraging my strong connections to UCF,” Eichenholz says.

To learn more about Jonathan’s Landing and Events with Jonathan, click here: https://jonathanslanding.org.