U-M Optics researchers sponsor Optics and Photonics Industry Snapshot

The Optics and Photonics event showed a thriving industry in SE Michigan

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Pictured are organizers of the event. Representing ECE are: alumna Michelle Stock (far left, back); research scientist John Nees (far right, back); and ECE PhD students Elizabeth Dreyer and Victoria Zhang (front right, respectively).

Professionals and researchers from across Michigan’s optics industry gathered for the Optics and Photonics Industry Snapshot on March 27, celebrating both the Optical Society of America’s 100th anniversary and the Ann Arbor chapter’s 50th. The event was sponsored in part by the Optical Society at the University of Michigan (OSUM), advised by research scientist John Nees. Prof. Aghapi Mordovanakis (BME) was also part of the planning of the event.

The snapshot is an annual occasion that fosters discussion, inspiration, and building relationships within the region. This year’s over 100 attendees included people working in optics and light-related industries in Michigan, the academic community, and students from four different universities (U-M, Eastern Michigan, Baker of Flint, Oakland University).

The goal of this year’s event was to highlight the history of optics in Michigan, the photonics-related industries, facilities, and human resources in the local area, and the ways to enhance the public understanding of science. Prof. Emeritus James C. Wyat, the Founding Dean of the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona, offered the event’s keynote address. The talk, titled “It is wonderful to have a career in optics and photonics,” discussed some of the new applications of optics/photonics and new career opportunities in the field.

“While optics is an old science,” Prof. Wyat says, “the health of optics/photonics has never been better.”

Elizabeth Dreyer, a graduate student in ECE and founder of OSUM, hopes that this event can raise awareness of southeast Michigan’s growing optics and photonics industry.

“Our region has strengths in a few areas within optics and photonics, like industrial lasers, the medical industry, and optical manufacturing,” says Dreyer. “Companies came with lasers that manufacturers like Ford, GM, and Chrysler can use to cut and weld their metals in order to make better vehicles.”

Over 20 industrial and academic exhibitors and sponsors attended with demos and presentations, as well as company materials for students seeking employment. This year’s exhibitors included:

View Photos from the Event