The photonics industry gathered in Washington, D.C., to engage in a discussion about a National Photonics Initiative.
More than 100 representatives from government and the photonics industry convened in Washington, D.C., on February 28 to identify focus areas for a National Photonics Initiative (NPI), engaging academia, industry, and government in a collaboration to address barriers to continued U.S. leadership in photonics.
Titled “Optics & Photonics: Lighting A Path for the Future,” the event was organized by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, in partnership with four other technical organizations. The meeting included briefings by subcommittees and industry representatives on future needs, and perspectives of technology experts from the five key optics and photonics sectors -- communication, defense, health and medicine, manufacturing, and energy –on how focus ideas for the NPI.
Recommendations are expected to be released later this month.
Establishment of the NPI was a key recommendation of the groundbreaking National Academy of Sciences report “Optics & Photonics, Essential Technologies for Our Nation” released in August 2012.
Last week’s event was attended by representatives of numerous government labs and agencies, such as the Department of Energy, National Institute of Standards and Technology, DARPA, the National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, and NASA. Industry representatives included attendees from Corning, Agilent, Northrup-Grumman, Alacatel-Lucent, and IBM.
Speakers touched on issues such as decreasing numbers of U.S. STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) graduates for the next generation of the workforce, the increased investment by other national governments in science and technology, and the lack of a cohesive photonics R&D direction in the U.S. in the face of well-defined initiatives in several other countries.
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