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NPI Volunteers Carry ‘Essential Technologies’ Message to Congress
Date:9/27/2013

WASHINGTON, DC, USA (PRWEB) September 26, 2013

The number of photonics supporters on Capitol Hill took a leap upward late last week, following dozens of visits to Congressional offices by photonics industry representatives from throughout the country. The visits were organized on behalf of the National Photonics Initiative (NPI), led by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, and the Optical Society (OSA) along with other societies in the sector.

Reports from the 19 volunteers sponsored by SPIE regarding their visits to approximately 45 offices were overwhelmingly positive. The NPI message reinforces the National Academies’ call in its 2012 report on the field to focus attention and resources on the essential technologies of optics and photonics. Specific areas of photonics R&D emphasis are in healthcare, security, communications, manufacturing and energy.

But last week’s volunteers found that photonics still has a long way to go to attain name familiarity, even among offices generally supportive of science and technology R&D.

A team including Michelle Stock, chair of the new Michigan photonics cluster Mi-Light, said that messages about the number and value of jobs created by the photonics industry were very compelling, even at offices where the term “photonics” was not well understood.

Stock and her team pointed out the integral role of photonics in advanced manufacturing, and the need to support photonics R&D efforts in funding future National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) projects. The team also illustrated connections with energy initiatives and health and medicine, point
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