PORTLAND, Ore. — President Obama announced a contest today -- a call for proposals -- to build an Integrated Photonics Manufacturing Institute. The US government will include $100 million in its budget for 2015 and the contest proposals will kick in another $100 million -- from industrial partners -- to start the ball rolling next year.
"What the President is proposing is absolutely critical for the information technology photonics industry," professor Tom Baer, chairman of the National Photonics Initiative (NPI) and executive director of Stanford's photonics research center, told EE Times.
Source: International society for Optics and Photonics
The President's proposal is the fifth initiative in the manufacturing area and an attempt to bring jobs that were outsourced for cheap labor back to the US The initiative also aims to keep the US ahead not only in technology but, for national security, to have the manufacturing on US soil.
"The focus of this program is really to develop the manufacturing prowess to maintain US leadership in this area," Baer told EE Times.
The President entertained many different proposals for initiatives which were lobbied in Washington this past year, but chose photonics as the most important for several reasons. (NPI was on of those lobby groups.) Baer told EE Times:
For one thing, the current generation photonics technology is expected to reach capacity within two or three years. And the demand for internet bandwidth is still growing tremendously. And the integrated optical component, like the ones being developed in my lab, need next-generation solutions and components that can keep pace with advanced data centers. The idea is that we would like for these components for competitive reasons -- for economic growth, jobs, and for homeland security reasons -- to be manufactured in the United States.
The formal contest was announced today -- National Manufacturing Day -- at the Millennium Steel plant in Princeton, Ind., alongside US Commerce Secretary, Penny Pritzker, who also addressed the group.
The President proposed an end-to-end ecosystem including domestic foundries, integrated design tools, automated packaging, assembly and test--the largest investment in US manufacturing to date. Get all the details on a White House Fact Sheet.
Besides NPI, the President's Request for Information issued by the Department of Defense earlier this year for a new Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation was also lobbied by the Optical Society and the International Society for Optics and Photonics.
— R. Colin Johnson, Advanced Technology Editor, EE Times