About Us

Problem Solvers

Black Forest Engineering was founded in 1990 by Steve Gaalema. Named after the forest just north of Colorado Springs where it was originally located, BFE has enjoyed steady growth over the years by consistently providing realistic and capable designs to accomplish client goals.  BFE’s diverse and extensive design expertise along with industry standard verification tools facilitates designing solutions to the often non-standard requirements of its customers.

Steve Gaalema, Ph.D, FOUNDER

Steve Gaalema, founder of Black Forest Engineering

Steve Gaalema received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Purdue University in 1976, where he demonstrated the first acoustic charge transport device. His subsequent experience includes CCD star tracker development at JPL.  He was also integral to the development of Si and Ge IR detectors; integrated readout electronics for Si, Ge, InSb, and HgCdTe detectors; and cryogenic packaging and signal processing for Hughes Aircraft. He was responsible for the development of several IC processes at Hughes, and in cooperation with Orbit Semiconductor, the buried channel CCD/CMOS process now offered through the MOSIS service. Dr. Gaalema is the inventor of twelve patents and has several patents pending.


Notable Projects

Ultra-lightweight LWIR Camera


We have developed a long wave length infrared camera module (weight dominated by lens) that uses less than 1 watt of power using one of our IR ROICs.  ( view brochure )

Commercial LIDAR

LIDAR sensor system being developed for car automation by Luminar

With our team’s fairly recent acquisition by Luminar, our great LIDAR technology has excelled to be cutting edge and industry leading. We believe in the future of LIDAR and the future of its role in vehicle automation.

Space Tech


Here is an image from the Mars Climate Sounder.  The device uses a NASA/JPL thermopile linear IR array and a BFE designed CMOS readout IC.  The Mars Climate Sounder was launched 8/2005 and arrived by 3/2006, and is still operating in Orbit.

Bio Tech

an early model for the BrightSpot diagnostic module

BFE developed an ultra sensitive visible light sensor to be used in a medical diagnostic device spearheaded by Prolume Ltd. and continued by Beacon Biotechnology.  The device uses bioluminescence that luminescences in the presence of up to 100 different potential targets allowing 100 tests to be done using a single sample.