Ross Potoff was born and raised by his mother and father, David and Mollie
Potoff, in Waterbury, Connecticut. At the age of seven Ross was sweeping and
cleaning his father’s manufacturing factory and by the age of 12 he was
promoted to the commercial darkroom facility where he made lithographic plates
and silkscreens for cosmetic product containers. Noticing her son’s skills with
machines and tools, his mother enrolled him in an exploratory skills program at
Warren F. Kaynor Regional High School where he excelled in coursework and
studies related to precision machining.
Following high school, Ross enrolled at Waterbury State Technical College to
study mechanical engineering. During his first year at Waterbury State, he
scored well on the Air Force aptitude test which led him to pursue his
education and training in the military. His tours of duty were focused on high-tech
camera systems in Vietnam and at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson,
Arizona. Following his military service, Ross began a 40-year career with the
University of Arizona’s Optical Sciences Center where he designed precision
machinery and optics devices for research projects conducted by the University
of Arizona. His responsibilities included training 18 doctoral students and
hosting optics scientists from around the world who came to tour the
prestigious research center.
Ross retired from the University of Arizona in 2012.