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SPIE Leaders Seek Support for a National Photonics Initiative
Date:12/27/2012

fire are just a few examples of photonics-enabled applications,” McManamon said. “If the U.S. wants to retain high-tech leadership and jobs, we need the National Photonics Initiative.”

“Technology fuels our economy, lifestyle, and national security. The advantage the U.S. has held is at risk due to competition from other countries that are investing more in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) R&D and workforce education,” said SPIE Vice President Philip Stahl in a presentation at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. “The high-tech economy is a three-legged stool, with the federal government, colleges and universities, and the private sector each playing a vital role. The NPI would take a strategic approach to ensuring return on investment, both financially and in new applications, and to maintaining competitiveness in the global economy.”

Photonics is responsible for more than 1.8 million jobs around the world, SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs said in a briefing at the National Science Foundation (NSF) last month.

Arthurs noted that several regions ? influenced in part by a 1998 NRC study on optical science and engineering study called “Harnessing Light” ? have successfully scoped their own photonics capabilities, set goals, and implemented plans to realize new potential.

He pointed to Asia, where the world’s largest share of photonics manufacturing is done, and to the European Union, which has recognized photonics one of six key enabling technologies for future prosperity. Funding for photonics in the current EU cycle has ramped up to 100 million euro per year, and that amount is expected to increase more than 50% in the next cycle.

International interest in the new “Optics and Photonics, Essential Technologies” report is also high, Stahl said. Researchers he met on a trip to India earlier this month had read the report and brought it up for discussion.

Among key findings of the “Optics and Photo
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