Editor-in-Chief Ron Driggers discusses the founding of the Integrated Photonics Manufacturing Initiative.

© 2015 Optical Society of America

Congratulations to the Research Foundation of the State University of New York (RF SUNY,) winner of the United States Integrated Photonics Industrial Manufacturing Initiative (IP-IMI) established in July 2015.

Vince Lombardi once said, “Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.” Well, Mr. Lombardi, meet Ron Driggers! I was the Chief Technologist on the University of Central Florida’s bid for the IP-IMI. Fortunately, I consider myself a good loser. In fact, I think we are all winners with the awarding of the IP-IMI to the public-private partnership led by RF SUNY.

The Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office gives the following background on the National Network of Manufacturing Initiatives: “In September 2013, the President launched the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Steering Committee 2.0 (AMP 2.0). AMP 2.0 was a renewed, cross-sector, national effort to secure U.S. leadership in the emerging technologies that will create high-quality manufacturing jobs and enhance America’s global competitiveness… In his 2013 and 2014 State of the Union Addresses, the President called for the creation of a Nationwide Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) to scale up advanced manufacturing technologies and processes. He asked Congress to authorize investment—to be matched by private and nonfederal funds to create an initial network of up to 15 institutes.”

The competition for IP-IMI proposals was announced in October 2014 and the selection process produced three finalists. The Research Foundation for the State University of New York (RF SUNY), the University of Central Florida and the University of Southern California led multi-institutional consortia of universities, companies and nonprofits. All three groups provided formidable proposals and site visits, but ultimately RF SUNY won the competition. The hub location is in New York, and it will have 96 member institutions. The federal funding amount is $110 million over five years and the nonfederal contributions will exceed $500 million.

According to the Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office, the IP-IMI is “focused on developing an end-to-end integrated photonics ecosystem in the U.S., including domestic foundry access, integrated design tools, automated packaging, assembly and test, and workforce development. The Institute will develop and demonstrate innovative manufacturing technologies for:

  • • Ultra-high-speed transmission of signals for the internet and telecommunications
  • • New high-performance information-processing systems and computing
  • • Compact sensor applications enabling dramatic medical advances in diagnostics and treatment
  • • Multi-sensor applications including urban navigation, free space optical communications and quantum information sciences
  • • Other diverse military applications including electronic warfare, analog RF sensing, communications, and chemical/biological detection”

The IP-IMI provides those of us who work in US industry, academia, and government with opportunities that were not previously available, and it will stimulate progress in photonic devices, packaging, and manufacturing. And this doesn’t just benefit the US—advances in photonic devices in the US also encourage development in the rest of the world, so ultimately, we all win.

In addition to congratulating the consortium led by RF SUNY, I would also like to thank UCF and USC for participating, as their competition provided for a much better result. In particular, I would like to thank UCF (B. Saleh, W. Schoenfeld, M. J. Soileau, and M. Macedonia) for inviting me and my small company to participate.

Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day once said, “There’s nothing wrong with being a loser, it just depends how good you are at it.” So maybe losing out this time around was good practice for me!

Well done, RF SUNY!

Ron Driggers
Editor-in-Chief, Applied Optics

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