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Rochester’s Development of Next-Generation Lasers Receives Boost from Federal Funding

Federal funding bolsters Rochester’s development of next-generation lasers

The University of Rochester has been awarded a $1 million grant by the National Science Foundation to advance laser technologies in the Rochester region of New York. The grant will be used to establish STELLAR – a Science, Technology and Engineering hub focused on lasers and laser applications research. The project aims to bring together various institutional, industrial, and business partners to create an advanced laser and optics ecosystem that can provide educational and economic opportunities for many generations to come.

The development of next-generation lasers is essential in a wide range of fields, including manufacturing, communications, inspection, environment sensing, defense, and security systems. But, as stakeholders note, the manufacturing and packaging of lasers are increasingly being carried out overseas. Also, there is a shortage of skilled workers in the optics and photonics industry. This grant will, therefore, help nurture and grow a diverse workforce in the field of laser technology, providing a much-needed break to the area.

With its roots in optics and laser technology, the Rochester region is well-positioned to help teachers from middle-school through all levels of college develop curricula that will enable students to learn skilled trades in laser systems. Based on this, pursuing the STELLAR Engine project will create a manufacturing ecosystem for lasers. The region already has many of the key elements for such an ecosystem, including research and manufacturing components, laser components, packaging, science and engineering expertise, and related educational institutions.

Lastly, the STELLAR Engine project aims to provide research and development support for growing companies – thanks to the involvement of researchers from regional universities and industry. The ultimate objective of STELLAR is to make the US competitive again globally in this critically important field.

Related Facts

– Laser technology is a relatively unknown but powerful contributor to the American economy. A report by the Economic Policy Institute revealed that the US laser market has grown at close to 5% per year since the turn of the century, generating over $11 billion per year in direct sales.- One of the advantages that the Rochester area has in this field is that it is home to the Laboratory for Laser Energetics – one of the most advanced laser labs in the world.
– Senator Schumer – who advocated for the federal funding – believes that the initiative will revolutionize the Rochester tech workforce, creating new programs from technical education at community colleges for manufacturing careers to helping train the next generation of the country’s top scientific minds, all while helping attract new employers and creating good-paying jobs.

Key Takeaway

The NSF Engines Development Award is expected to create and grow a diverse, workforce-focused laser ecosystem in Rochester and the Finger Lakes region that will reinvigorate US global competitiveness, scientific leadership, and technological preeminence in a broad range of key applications. The initiative will help nurture and grow a diverse workforce in the field of laser technology, create a manufacturing ecosystem for lasers and provide research and development support for growing companies.

In conclusion, the federal funding for STELLAR is a welcome development, especially in light of the ongoing shortage of skilled workers in the optics and photonics sector. The initiative has the potential to provide tremendous benefits to the US economy in the long run. We believe this project will enable the University of Rochester, along with its institutional, industrial, and business partners, to establish a more diverse and robust STELLAR ecosystem, putting the US back on top of the global laser technology market.

Denk Liu
Denk Liu
Denk Liu is an honest person who always tells it like it is. He's also very objective, seeing the situation for what it is and not getting wrapped up in emotion. He's a regular guy - witty and smart but not pretentious. He loves playing video games and watching action movies in his free time.

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