Research and Industry Leaders Urge Congressional Support for Photonics

Three dozen volunteers from sixteen states visited dozens of Congressional offices today to urge support for legislation to drive innovation and economic growth, strengthen competitiveness, and bolster national security, and for acknowledgement of the crucial role photonics plays in those efforts. The visits were organized by of the National Photonics Initiative (NPI), a collaboration among SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, and other scientific societies along with leading photonics companies and research organizations.

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NPI volunteers from several states visited Congressional offices including that of Rep. John Mica (R-Florida; third from right) to urge support for legislation related to photonics technologies.

NPI volunteers from several states visited Congressional offices including that of Rep. John Mica (R-Florida; third from right) to urge support for legislation related to photonics technologies.

We found genuine support for the NPI in offices representing districts across the country, from coast to coast.

Washington, DC, and Bellingham, WA (PRWEB) March 26, 2014

Volunteers from industry and research labs across the USA visited Congressional offices today to urge support for key issues related to photonics technologies and R&D, on behalf of the National Photonics Initiative (NPI). Supported by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, and other NPI founders and sponsors, the 36 volunteers from photonics were among a total of nearly 200 volunteers participating in this year’s Science-Engineering-Technology Working Group (SETWG) Congressional Visits Day.

NPI volunteers urged support for:

  •     the bipartisan Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2013 (RAMI), to establish manufacturing institutes known as the Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NMI); the institutes would function through a public-private partnership between the federal government, local governments, universities, research institutes and industry to accelerate manufacturing innovation in technologies with commercial applications
  •     reauthorization of the bi-partisan America COMPETES Act (originally passed in 2007 and expired in December 2013) to ensure American competitiveness in the global marketplace, and adding language specifying photonics to reflect the industry’s critical role in the ongoing innovation of many other sectors
  •     establishment of a National Photonics Prototyping and Advance Manufacturing Facility within the Department of Defense’s manufacturing mandate, possibly through inclusion of language in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA); establishment of such a facility could produce critical defense applications for warfighters, as well as drive new generations of high-tech commercial applications such as a more secure Internet, enhance medical diagnostics, and portable sources of renewable energy.

“(SPIE Vice President) Bob Lieberman and I and the other NPI volunteers had a productive day discussing with Congressional staff the importance of optics and photonics for our nation's economic and national security, and how the NPI strengthens our nation's future,” said SPIE President Philip Stahl. “We enjoyed the give and take of our exchanges and were happy with the level of engagement. We found genuine support for the NPI in offices representing districts across the country, from coast to coast.”

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) was awarded the SETWG George E. Brown, Jr., Leadership Award at a reception for Members of Congress, their staffs, and SETWG volunteers Tuesday evening in the Rayburn House Office Building. The award recognizes leadership in, advocacy for, and specific actions taken to advance science, engineering, and technology policy.

The reception included an exhibition featuring 15 companies and societies with technology demonstrations and information.

Rep. Rush Holt (D-New Jersey) welcomed SETWG visitors to Capitol Hill at a breakfast Wednesday morning.

The NPI is a collaborative, industry-driven campaign to advance photonics research and funding. Activities concentrate on five key areas: defense and national security, energy, healthcare, communications, and manufacturing. More information is at http://lightourfuture.org.

About SPIE

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 $3.2 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2013.


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