The Team

SA Photonics has assembled a world-class team of high-speed photonics, optical, electrical and mechanical engineers, most of which have over 20 years experience in building complex, ruggedized systems for the military and for commercial industry.
The principals of SA Photonics have a long track record developing products for the defense, aerospace, aeronautical, terrestrial telecommunications, and semiconductor industries, and have been responsible for commercializing more than 10 products, including hardware on over 15 satellites. These products have led to commercial sales of over $1.5 billion and are fielded worldwide.


Jim Coward

Jim Coward

Chief Executive Officer

Jim Coward is co-founder and President of SA Photonics and leads all business operations.  Mr. Coward also directly manages technology development programs in the following areas: free space optical communications, fiber amplifier systems, and compact high update rate fiber optic gyroscopes.  These programs have resulted in more than $10 million in SBIR Phase III transition funding and commercial contracts. Mr. Coward has been involved in the design and development of complex optical systems for 30 years.  His product development efforts have led to mission critical sensor hardware flying on over 20 satellites, high bandwidth transport equipment in the fiber optic backbones of US national telecom carriers, and key electro-optic wafer inspection equipment in every major semiconductor fabrication plant in the world.  In total, he has been responsible for system sales in excess of $1 billion. Jim Coward earned his degree in Physics from the University of California at Berkeley.

Michael Brown

Michael Browne

General Manager-Vision Products

Michael Browne is the General Manager-Vision Products at SA Photonics and manages the company’s business development efforts.  Dr. Browne also leads a variety of technical programs at SA Photonics, from the design and development of person-mounted information systems to technical research in the areas of vergence mismatch, smear reduction in head mounted displays, monocular performance, and dichoptic vision.  The person-mounted information systems that Dr. Browne is developing include wide field of view digital night vision systems, wide field of view augmented reality systems, body-worn electronics, and unmanned vehicle control stations. Dr. Browne has been involved in the design, test and measurement of night vision devices and head mounted displays since 1991.  He has led numerous design teams for head mounted displays, including displays for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the Army’s RAH-66 Comanche helicopter.  He also led a team that developed an innovative wide-screen heads-up display for the F-35 cockpit and one that developed an optical touchscreen now installed on every F-18 E/F fighter. Dr. Browne received his Ph.D. in Optical Sciences from the University of Arizona’s Optical Science Center.

Dave Pechner

Dave Pechner

Chief Technology Officer

Dave Pechner leads SA Photonics’ engineering development group and is also a Principal Investigator on several current and past SA Photonics programs.  Mr. Pechner has over 25 years of experience developing and delivering complex communications and sensing systems for both commercial and military markets.  His background includes system architecture and system engineering, DSP algorithm design, high speed FPGA and digital hardware design, and project management. Prior to joining SA Photonics, Mr. Pechner held positions at ArrayComm, where he developed smart antenna MIMO and Beamforming solutions for 4G wireless systems, at Terayon where he worked on cable modem head end equipment, at Kestrel Solutions where he matured optical communication systems, at Applied Signal Technology where he developed signal collection and analysis systems, and Lockheed Martin, where he worked on optical systems. Mr. Pechner received an MSEE from Stanford University with a focus on digital communications and signal processing and a BSEE from California Polytechnic, San Luis Obispo.