CEO of The Optical Society (OSA), Elizabeth Rogan, is at the Evaporated Metal Films (EMF) Corporation’s manufacturing facility in Ithaca, New York (US), today, giving remarks with Congressional and local leaders to promote the importance of optics and photonics in advanced manufacturing. The presentation comes on the heels of today’s joint announcement from President Barack Obama and US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker that the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has selected photonics as one of two technology areas to pursue for the newly created Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation (IMIs). Both the EMF visit and the DOD announcement were made in conjunction with National Manufacturing Day—an initiative with more than 1,500 events across the US.
According to the White House, the DOD will be leading a competition to “award more than $100 million in federal investment matched by $100 million or more in private investment to the winning consortia to build a new IMI focused on Integrated Photonics. The IMI will focus on developing an end-to-end photonics ‘ecosystem’ in the US, including domestic foundry access, integrated design tools, automated packaging, assembly and test, and workforce development.
“Each IMI will serve as a regional hub, bridging the gap between applied research and product development by bringing together companies, universities and other academic and training institutions, and Federal agencies to co-invest in key technology areas that encourage investment and production in the US. It will provide a unique opportunity for education and training of students and workers at all levels, while providing the shared assets to help companies, most importantly small manufacturers, access the cutting-edge capabilities and equipment to design, test, and pilot new products and manufacturing processes.”
“The DOD’s announcement to pursue a photonics-focused IMI is a significant success not only for our community but also for the future of scientific research and development,” said Rogan. “OSA recognizes the time, resources and collaboration it took to participate in this process and commends the community for their efforts. Photonics is receiving the recognition it deserves and American manufacturing stands to benefit as a result.”
In June, the DOD announced a “Request for Information (RFI)” related to the Obama administration’s National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). The RFI sought public feedback on the creation of two new IMIs. The RFI both identified the DOD’s parameters for developing the institutes and also listed technologies the DOD suggested incorporating into the IMIs. Photonics was one of six technology focus areas that competed for inclusion in the IMIs.
OSA joined several other societies in the RFI effort through its founding partner role in the National Photonics Initiative (NPI).The NPI conducted outreach activities to encourage participation, including hosting a webinar, conducting information meetings and holding an overview session at the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO: 2014) in June. The NPI is led by a coalition of scientific societies, including the American Physical Society (APS), the IEEE Photonics Society, the Laser Institute of America (LIA), SPIE and OSA.
At EMF, Rogan, along with Rep. Tom Reed, EMF President Paul Schulz and Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster President Tom Battley, also spoke of the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation (RAMI) Act recently passed by the House and urged its passage in the Senate.
“The RAMI Act calls for the federal government to partner with industry, academia, state and local government to support Manufacturing Innovation Centers,” said Rogan. “These centers will grow industries such as optics and photonics. The bill plays an important role in ensuring the commercialization and manufacture of high-technology products in America. These efforts are the building blocks to help expand advanced manufacturing in the United States.”
Rep. Reed also spoke on the importance of manufacturing in upstate New York.
“I’m really pleased to be joined by EMF, and members of the photonics and optics industry to recognize National Manufacturing Day,” Reed said. “Caring about manufacturing is what our bill is all about, and I truly believe that companies such as EMF can benefit from RAMI and help create the next generation of manufacturing jobs in our region. I’d also like to thank The Optical Society, which has been very supportive of my RAMI legislation.”