Congressman Morelle Announces Creation of Congressional Optics & Photonics Caucus

This bipartisan, bicameral caucus will promote and advance the optics and photonics industry

February 24, 2021 (Washington, D.C.) – Today, Congressman Joe Morelle announced the creation of the Congressional Optics & Photonics Caucus to promote and advance the use of light-based technologies that are already impacting our world every day. Rep. Morelle co-founded the caucus with Rep. Brian Mast (FL-18), Senator Steve Daines (MT) and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (AZ).

“The bipartisan, bicameral caucus we are announcing today is the result of a multi-year effort to increase awareness of how optics and photonics work to maintain the U.S. position as a leader in global innovation,” Congressman Joe Morelle said. “Our world is shifting to a knowledge-based economy that rewards those nations who invest in innovation and are at the forefront of emerging technologies. And the reward is what our nation needs most right now: a boost in our economy and the creation of stable, high-paying jobs.”

“The optics and photonics industry helps Americans in countless ways, from keeping our country safe to allowing us to communicate with one another to providing innovative healthcare,” said Congressman Brian Mast. “The U.S. leads the world in the research and development of optics and photonics technology, and I’m excited to join with my colleagues in the House and Senate to support the industry’s growth and innovation.”

“I’m glad to serve as Senate co-chair of the Optics and Photonics Caucus alongside Senator Sinema, and look forward to continuing our work to advocate for the next generation of American innovation and technology,” said Senator Steve Daines. “Promoting these innovative solutions will not only help America overcome great challenges, but will also provide high-paying jobs across the country.”

“Our bipartisan Congressional Optics and Photonics Caucus creates partnerships boosting Arizona’s economy by helping Arizona universities and businesses continue innovating,” said Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema.

The foundation for this industry has already been laid, and in fact, is currently shaping how we communicate, energize our grids, administer healthcare, and enhance our national security.

By harnessing the power of light, the optics and photonics industry offers solutions that are more efficient and cost effective than other existing technology today. What’s more, the industry is in high demand, offering pathways to employment for Americans as we begin to rebuild and revitalize our economy in the wake of COVID-19.

Among the goals of the Optics & Photonics caucus are:

  • To promote and advance the use of light-based technologies through public and private investments and secure the United States’ status as a global leader in innovation;
  • To break down the siloed knowledge surrounding this robust industry, educating lawmakers, workers, and students of all this industry has to offer and setting future generations up succeed.

“Employers from around the world frequently contact Monroe Community College (Rochester, N.Y.) looking for their ‘future photon workforce’—highly skilled technicians who are trained to produce innovative light-enabled products. There are thousands of job openings in optics, photonics, and imaging worldwide,” said Alexis Vogt, Ph.D., MCC program chair and professor of optical systems technology. “As the only college in the nation awarding associate degrees in precision optics, MCC educates and trains a finite number of skilled optics technicians each year. We are eager to help other communities across the nation develop their workforce for these highly skilled, well-paid jobs.”

“The National Photonics Initiative strongly supports the formation of the Congressional Optics & Photonics Caucus and applauds the efforts of Representatives Morelle and Mast and Senators Sinema and Daines for their leadership as Chairs,” said Ed White, chairman of the National Photonics Initiative. “This Caucus will serve as a valuable tool for members and staff seeking to learn more about the dynamic possibilities of optics and photonics. It will also give our community a stronger voice in Congress as we work to educate policymakers on the many ways optics and photonics can be used to confront challenges ranging from health care delivery to agriculture to infrastructure development. We look forward to working with the Caucus members in their effort to increase the federal use of optics and photonics applications on issues of importance to the U.S.”

“When you look carefully at many of the innovations we support, what you’ll find “under the hood” are advanced optics and photonics technologies powering and enabling a wide range of cutting-edge methods, discoveries, and devices,” said Dr. Bruce Tromberg, director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Engineering at the National Institute of Health. “It’s exciting to be part of this growing, interdisciplinary, community of innovators, working together to achieve our vision: Engineering the Future of Health for all Americans.”

Manufacturing and precision optics is a prestigious and exciting opportunity for today’s and tomorrow’s workforce—we are excited to partner with the precision optics community to expanding the precision optics development pipelines,” said Dr. Adele Ratcliff, director of Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment at the Defense Office of Industrial Policy.

CONTACT:

Dana Vernetti | 585-820-4684 | dana.vernetti@mail.house.gov Joe Leathersich | 585-317-0467 | joseph.leathersich@mail.house.gov