08 November 2013

NPI supporters make powerful new friends for photonics

The photonics industry has been particularly busy making new friends in the U.S. Congress during the past several months, energized by the National Photonics Initiative (NPI), an industry-driven campaign to guide photonics research and funding.

Add the NPI badge to your website
to show your support.
Immediately following its launch in May by founding sponsors SPIE and OSA and co-sponsors the Laser Institute of America, the IEEE Photonics Society and the American Physical Society, NPI supporters got busy.

In Florida, the NPI partnered with the University of Central Florida to host Rep. John Mica for a briefing and tour of CREOL, the university’s Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers. Mica subsequently authored an op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel in which he wrote, “Photonics offers great prospects for world-class firms and middle-class jobs in Florida and beyond. Let's stay laser-focused on making photonics a national priority.”

The NPI and the University of Arizona hosted Rep. Ron Barber for a tour of UA’s College of Optical Sciences. Barber later wrote in an op-ed published in Inside Tucson Business, “New opportunities arising from optics and photonics offer the potential for even more jobs and money in our economy over the next few decades including new optical capabilities that will be vital for supporting the continued growth of the Internet, high-efficiency lighting, genome mapping, medical devices and solar power.”

The NPI worked with the New York Photonics Cluster to honor Rep. Louise Slaughter with an achievement award for her continued dedication to the local photonics industry, at an event highlighting the economic importance of optics and photonics to Rochester and the state of New York. Slaughter followed up with an op-ed for The Hill, saying, “As we look for ways to keep America competitive in this new century, the OPID (optics, photonics, imaging and display) industry and the research that supports it is a vital asset that the United States must nurture and protect.”

Rep. Mike Honda visited Directed Light, Inc., in San Jose, California, for a briefing about photonics and a tour of the company. Reflecting on what he learned, Honda said, “My tour of Directed Light highlighted how photonics enables our day-to-day lives, and I saw first-hand the ways in which optics and photonics support our local economy. We must ensure U.S. workers receive the training they need to have careers in this important, expanding industry.”

Volunteers make a difference!
A fly-in in September brought
25 individual to Washington,
D.C., to meet with members
of Congress.
In early September, members of the five photonics societies leading efforts to promote the NPI were invited to address the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Fast Track Action Committee, an interagency committee formed to identify research opportunities and challenges in optics and photonics.

In mid-September, nearly 25 individuals representing the NPI flew to Washington to meet with their members of Congress about the importance of photonics in our everyday lives. Participants attended 48 meetings with House and Senate offices, including impromptu member meetings with Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Reps. Scott Peters and Eric Swalwell of California, and Rep. John Larson of Connecticut; and scheduled member meetings with New York’s Slaughter and Rep. Rob Andrews of New Jersey.

Your role

To really have an impact, more individuals from the community need to act on behalf of the NPI. See what you can do:

  • Post an NPI Supporter Button on your website, social media pages, email signature, or printed materials; include a link in the image to the NPI website.
  • Post about the NPI on your Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social networking pages and add a link to the NPI website, or Tweet about optics and photonics using #NPI and links to the website.
  • Write an op-ed or letter to the editor to your local newspaper about the NPI and the importance of optics and photonics to the local community. Email NPI@lightourfuture.org for samples and guidance.
  • Become an official NPI Partner, as a Supporter or Collaborator.
  • Invite your members of Congress to attend a photonics-focused event at your company or university or in your district. Take NPI materials to meetings in Washington or locally to educate members of Congress, staffers and agency officials about the initiative and photonics. Email NPI@lightourfuture.org for step-by-step guides, contact information, and materials.

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