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Politicos make photonics push again
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Apr. 2, 2015
Matthew Daneman

Click image to view video of Rob Clark, dean of the University of Rochester's Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, describing the local photonics industry. Video by David Riley.

Rochester's Washington D.C. delegation is again throwing its political weight behind New York landing a federally created center for photonics manufacturing.

U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, and U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, Steuben County, were the lead signatories on a letter this week to U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter backing the application by the SUNY Research Foundation — an application that includes everyone from the University of Rochester and SUNY Polytechnic Institute to Rochester Institute of Technology. The letter includes House members from several other states but "We are united in our belief the New York-led proposal provides ... the best chance to make a transformational investment" that could greatly ramp-up the nation's photonics abilities and know-how. U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, Erie County, also signed.

Meanwhile, New York's two senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, similarly wrote their own, similarly worded letter.

The White House last year announced that through the U.S. Defense Department it would put $110 million toward creation of a high-tech Institute for Manufacturing Innovation with a focus on photonics. It has to be matched by $110 million in non-federal funding. The deadline for applications was Tuesday, with the final selection expected to come in June.

Also vying for the federal money are a consortium led by the University of Central Florida and a consortium captained by the University of Southern California.

Through the process, Slaughter, Schumer and Gillibrand have repeatedly pushed the SUNY Research Foundation application.

The photonics institute would focus on R&D and manufacturing techniques that could be disseminated to photonics and optics companies nationwide.

The SUNY Research Foundation in part lays out what kind of resources already are in place across upstate New York for such an institute, including fabrication capabilities in Albany, the microelectromechanical systems center in Canandaigua, and facilities at UR and RIT.

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Original Source: Democrat and Chronicle