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SPIE Members Emphasize Importance of R & D Funding to Congress 

Congress Hears about R&D Funding from Hundreds of Constituents

By Stacey Crockett

Pictured left to right, front to back: Row 1: Jim Harrington (NJ), David Natelson (FL), Anastasios Maurudis (CT), Jason Auxier (VA). Row 2: Alessandro Gandelli (Italy), Keri Then (CA), Ralph James (NY). Row 3: Randall Foster (GA), Tom Lee (CA), Bob Breault (AZ). Row 4: Michael Fiddy (NC), Groot Gregory (MA)

Bellingham, Wash-May, 15 2007-On May 1-2, members of SPIE traveled to Washington, D.C., to request funding support for innovation legislation, science and math education, and federal agencies for fiscal year 2008. Participants met with congressional representatives and staffers to urge continued support for science, engineering, technology and mathematics education for our nation's future. SPIE team members Jason Auxier (VA), Bob Breault (AZ), Michael Fiddy (NC), Randall Foster (GA), Alessandro Gandelli (Italy), Groot Gregory (MA), Jim Harrington (NJ), Joseph Howard (DC), Ralph James (NY), Tom Lee (CA), Anastasios Maurudis (CT), Paul McManamon (OH), Jim McNally (NM), David Natelson (FL) and Keri Then (CA) joined nearly 300 scientists, engineers and business leaders who made visits on Capitol Hill as part of the 12th annual Congressional Visits Days, an event sponsored by the Science-Engineering-Technology Working Group, which is composed of over 40 companies and organizations representing a broad cross section of the science and technology in academia, the government and in private industry.

Congressional Visits Day (CVD) is the preeminent yearly event during which hundreds of scientists and engineers from around the country come to Washington, D.C., for two days of briefings and visits to their members of Congress. While visiting congressional offices, SPIE members discussed the importance of the nation's broad portfolio of investments in education, science, engineering and technology to promoting national security, prosperity and U.S. leadership and innovation. Most importantly, they provided a constituent perspective on the local and national impact of these programs.

"Key staff members from both sides of the floor were in tune and supportive of the science and technology challenges that our country's future scientists, mathematicians and engineers are facing. This was evidenced by the Senate's recent passage of the America Competes Act and House votes in the specific areas of STEM, National Science Foundation, NIST and NIH funding during the past two weeks. As a business person trained in engineering, and as a parent, I was happy to see that our elected officials are taking action in areas that are critical to the next generation of Americans," said David Natelson, Vumii Inc.

As part of CVD, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) were awarded the 2007 George E. Brown Jr. Science, Engineering and Technology Leadership Award for their leadership in ensuring the United States meets the global competitiveness challenges of the 21st century. Through their enthusiastic support for science, engineering and technology research and education, Sen. Alexander and Speaker Pelosi have helped Congress understand and act on the connection between basic research and the U.S. innovation enterprise.

The award is presented annually by the Science, Engineering and Technology Working Group to members of Congress who are effective advocates of federal science and technology. The award is named for the late Rep. George E. Brown Jr. a long-time member of Congress who made outstanding contributions to federal support for science and technology over a long and distinguished career in Congress.

SPIE is the largest international not-for-profit society in optics, photonics and imaging. Combined with its 431 corporate members, the Society's 17,000 individual members - including 3,500 students - is the force for the exchange, collection and dissemination of knowledge. To date, SPIE has distributed over $3 million U.S. dollars in scholarships and grants to those living, working and learning in 86 countries. SPIE encourages scientific education and innovation and is the growing legacy of those who seek to learn, discover and innovate by building a better world with light.

Additional information concerning the 2007 Congressional Visits Day can be found on the Web at: www.setcvd.org