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Duke of York patronage of International Year of Light reflects longtime STEM support, say SPIE leaders

High-level sponsorship from UK royal will help raise celebration's visibility

17 July 2014

International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015 IYL2015
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BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA -- The announcement that the UK's Duke of York has agreed to become Patron of the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015 (IYL2015) in the UK is excellent news for photonics, said leaders of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, following today's press release from the Institute of Physics (IOP) on the Duke's action.

"SPIE is delighted with the Duke of York's declaration of support for photonics by becoming Patron of the International Year of Light," said SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs. "This action reflects his work in championing the development of science, technology, and engineering in the UK, where his support for programs across the community, from pre-university teens to national industry organizations, is well-known and much-appreciated. We hope that his leadership will increase awareness of the importance of light, of photonics, in our lives today and the potential for future benefit to humankind."

IYL2015 is a United Nations initiative to raise awareness of the vital role that light and light-based technologies play in our daily lives.

SPIE is serving as the coordinating organization for IYL2015 activities in the United States, and along with other international societies, is a Founding Sponsor of IYL2015. More information is at www.spie.org/iyl.

The role of the Duke -- Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip -- as Patron reflects his longtime patronage and engagement with organizations and initiatives that attract increased investment in UK science, technology, and engineering.

Royal Philips Electronics became the first Patron Sponsor of IYL2015 in April.

"We could not hope for a better or more supportive friend," IOP President Frances Saunders said in making the announcement. "He has already shown his support for science in the UK and in particular an interest in the photonics industry, a real UK success story worth an annual £10.5 billion to the economy and with a growing, high-tech export market, and I know that he is equally enthusiastic about the wider aspirations for the Year."

Organizers said that 2015 was chosen as the International Year of Light because it marks a significant anniversary of many key discoveries, starting with the first-ever work on optics by Islamic scholar Ibn Al- Haytham in 1015.

IYL2015 aims to enthuse young people with a passion for science. Additional goals are to support women in scientific careers, and to accelerate the distribution of solar lighting in rural communities in Africa through the "Study after Sunset" program.

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. The Society serves nearly 256,000 constituents from approximately 155 countries, offering conferences, continuing education, books, journals, and a digital library in support of interdisciplinary information exchange, professional networking, and patent precedent. SPIE provided more than $3.2 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2013.

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