The 300-plus people who attended our Power Breakfast Series event on Rochester’s Photonics Future last Friday heard two clear messages. First, Rochester is doing exciting work in photonics and is poised to capitalize on the strong growth that’s expected in the field. Second, the Rochester community needs to work hard to take advantage of that strong position.
Tom Battley, executive director of New York Photonics, talked about Rochester’s strategic advantage in the industry—120 companies in optics and photonics in the region have 17,000 employees and $3 billion in annual sales, and we’re a leader in photonics and optics patents. He urged community leaders to join NY Photonics in attending Photonics West in San Francisco, the largest industry conference in the U.S., to help tout Rochester and what it can offer photonics companies.
Ed White, corporate outreach executive for AIM Photonics, talked about the progress the initiative has made since the July 2015 announcement that Rochester won a Department of Defense competition to serve as headquarters for AIM Photonics. Membership is rising and they’re hiring to staff the Testing, Assembly and Packaging facility that will begin doing work this year.
Paul Ballentine, executive director of UR’s Center for Emerging and Innovative Sciences, discussed the Light and Sound Interactive that will be coming to Rochester from Sept. 12 to 14. It will showcase light- and sound-based technologies and their applications with a long-term goal of making Rochester internationally recognized for the technologies.
Alexis Vogt, endowed chair and associate professor of optics at Monroe Community College, detailed the school’s efforts to train more students to work in the industry. There is a shortage of skilled workers not just here, but worldwide, and Rochester can be a center for educating photonics workers.
Photonics is an exciting, high-potential industry, and we’re in position to, as Battley said, compete with entire countries. We cannot drop the ball.
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