Lou Cohen

Lou Cohen, now a full-time composer, has had many careers.

In 1959 he entered the new world of computers as a software engineer. His work included the design and development of FORTRAN and COBOL compilers as well as operating systems. In 1992 he ended his 30-year software development career at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), retiring as a Consultant Engineer.

While at DEC, he became interested in the problem of designing software and computers in such a way as to delight customers, while keeping development and manufacturing costs low. He worked in DEC's Japan engineering office for 6 months, studying Japanese methods of engineering and product development. He eventually became a nationally-known expert in Quality Function Deployment (QFD), and wrote a (relatively speaking) popular book on the subject. According to google/scholar, this book has been cited in more than 800 other books and articles, making it by far the most referenced of all books or articles on the subject of QFD.

Publication by Addison-Wesley (later acquired by Pearson) of the book on QFD gave rise to a consulting career which lasted from 1992 to 2001. The book is now in its second edition. During this time, Cohen worked with many companies, helping them strategize in identifying and meeting customer needs. These companies manufactured or delivered PDAs, office equipment, laundry detergents, medical devices, military products, paper, software, credit card services, and electric power. The culmination of this phase of his life was in the development, with Don Clausing and Madhav Phadke, of a course on Systems Engineering, which was presented throughout the United States and Europe.

Cohen became interested in astronomy and built an urban observatory around 1999. This interest led to many activities, most notably his development and delivery of astrophysics and advanced mathematics activities for elementary school children. He received the Cambridge School Volunteers Mack A. Davis award for "Extraordinary Service" in 2000. He also served as Treasurer of the American Association of Variable Star Obseverers for several years, and was awarded the AAVSO's 38th Merit Award.

From age 11 until the present, Cohen has been passionately interested in composing, playing and listening to music. He was always active as a musician regardless of his other activities. In the early 1960s he organized, with Christian Wolff, a series of new music concerts in the Boston area. Later, he studied harpsichord privately and performed many times with young professional musicians and with amateurs of all abilities. For a number of years he was organizer and president of the Wayland Music Workshop, a group that provided amateur musicians of any ability the chance to perform in small, supportive settings. For more details about his musical life, go here.

Since 2000, he has devoted himself to music composition and to the performance of electro-acoustic music. He has collaborated with several Boston artists, has been involved in theatrical productions, and is co-director of the prominent concert series Opensound.

He spends his free time with his family, all currently living near him and his wife in Cambridge, Mass.

Also see: All About Jazz interview

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