Bill passed by U.S. House of Representatives identifies optics and photonics as key focus area

The Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation (RAMI) Act, which was passed on September 15, seeks to establish several Centers for Manufacturing Innovation, uniting public and private partners with the goal of fostering manufacturing innovation in the U.S. and speeding up product commercialization. Within the bill, optics and photonics were specifically named as technology focus areas to consider for manufacturing centers.

The Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation (RAMI) Act, which was passed on September 15, seeks to establish several Centers for Manufacturing Innovation, uniting public and private partners with the goal of fostering manufacturing innovation in the U.S. and speeding up product commercialization. Within the bill, optics and photonics were specifically named as technology focus areas to consider for manufacturing centers.

As it is described in the bill, a Center for Manufacturing Innovation is a center that "has been established by a person or group or persons to address challenges in advanced manufacturing and to assist manufacturers in retaining or expanding industrial production and jobs in the United States."

In addition, a Center for Manufacturing Innovation "has a predominated focus on a manufacturing process, novel material, enabling technology, supply chain integration methodology, or another relevant aspect of advanced manufacturing, such as nanotechnology applications, advanced ceramics, photonics and optics, composites, bio-based and advanced materials, flexible hybrid technologies, and tool development for microelectronics."

These Centers, as determined by the Secretary of Commerce, should have the potential to improve the competiveness of United States manufacturing in the areas mentioned above. The Centers will also have active participation among representatives from multiple industrial entities, academic entities, and others that the Secretary deems appropriate. Activities at Centers for Manufacturing Innovation may include:

  • Research, development, and demonstration projects, including proof-of-concept development and prototyping.
  • Development and implementation of education, training, and workforce recruitment courses, materials, and programs.
  • Development of innovative methodologies and practices for supply chain integration and introduction of new technologies into supply chains.
  • Outreach and engagement with small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises.
  • Other activities identified by the Secretary.

One of the 125 organizations that encouraged the passing of the legislation was The Optical Society, which worked with Rep. Tom Reed (R – N.Y.) to include the language naming optics and photonics as one of several focus areas to consider for a manufacturing center.

"The RAMI Act is a win for the optics and photonics industry," said OSA CEO Elizabeth Rogan in a press release. "Countries like Germany and Japan have had success with similar initiatives. The United States must demonstrate its commitment to innovation and growth by providing the needed resources to advance high-tech business in this country."

She also called the passage of the House bill a "critical first step," and urged the Senate to follow suit by passing the same version of the bill.

James McNally, chair of the SPIE Engineering, Science, and Technology Policy committee, also applauded the passing of the House bill.

"This action supports and aligns with the continued commitment of SPIE, driven by its membership, to advocate for photonics R&D and job creation," he said. "The bill’s acknowledgement that optics and photonics are pervasive in our everyday lives is important as well."

He added, "Light-based innovations and products can provide significant improved quality of life throughout the world in health care, energy efficiency, lighting, and clean water. Enactment of this bill would position U.S. manufacturing consortiums at the forefront of providing these innovative products to the world and while creating high-quality domestic manufacturing jobs."

The RAMI Act, a bipartisan bill, was introduced last year by Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Reps. Reed and Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.), and the Senate is expected to vote on the bill by year’s end.

View theRevitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2014.
View the OSA press release.

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