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Possible new manufacturing institute may focus on photonics – but community needs to get involved, says SPIE

Department of Defense seeks comment through 14 July on six proposed technologies

03 June 2014

BELLINGHAM, Washington -- The first step in the process of creating a possible new public-private manufacturing institute in the U.S. focused on photonics as part of the President's National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) was taken Monday 2 June with the announcement of a Request for Information (RFI) by the Department of Defense (DoD).

But the photonics community is only one of several technologies being considered for the possible new Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (IMI), noted leaders of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.

"It is urgent that the photonics community become informed and actively involved in providing comment about why a photonics IMI should be established as a result of this initiative," said SPIE President Philip Stahl. "Those of us in the community, whether in government, academia, or industry, are well aware of the importance of these technologies in everyone's lives. Right now, it is vital to communicate those impacts to the DoD."

The DoD is accepting comments through 14 July on the request, RFI-RQKM-2014-0022.

Stahl stressed the effectiveness of public-private partnerships in stimulating innovation that creates jobs and strengthens the economy. He noted that photonics, with its multidisciplinary applications, is well-suited for such partnerships.

"The photonics industry has demonstrated many times over the power of its nearly ubiquitous technologies in solving challenges in healthcare, energy production, security, and communications," he said. "A photonics IMI would be a powerful move forward in enabling the technologies to contribute even more to the economy and human progress."

An informational webinar for the photonics community has been scheduled by SPIE and other organizations participating in the National Photonics Initiative for Friday 6 June, 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Registration is required, via www1.gotomeeting.com/register/462170968.

The NPI, a collaborative alliance seeking to raise awareness of photonics and drive U.S. funding and investment in key photonics-driven fields, is being led by a coalition of scientific societies, including the American Physical Society (APS), the IEEE Photonics Society, the Laser Institute of America (LIA), The Optical Society (OSA) and SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.

Other technology areas being considered in the RFI are Flexible Hybrid Electronics, Engineered Nanomaterials, Fiber and Textiles, Electronic Packaging and Reliability, and Aerospace Composites.

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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