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Integrated Photonics Symposium Sheds a Light on the Future of Manufacturing

October, 2018
  • WPI Vice Provost for Research Bogdan Vernescu (L)and QCC President Dr. Luis Pedraja at the fist Integrated Photonics Symposium
    WPI Vice Provost for Research Bogdan Vernescu (L)and QCC President Dr. Luis Pedraja at the fist Integrated Photonics Symposium
  • QCC President Luis Pedraja, QCC Assistant Vice President for Workforce Readiness and Innovation Kathy Rentsch, and Michael Watts
    QCC President Luis Pedraja, QCC Assistant Vice President for Workforce Readiness and Innovation Kathy Rentsch and President and CEO of Analog Photonics Michael Watts
  • Associate Professor of Electronics Engineering Technology Jacob Longacre and QCC Assistant Vice President Kathy Rentsch
    Associate Professor of Electronics Engineering Technology Jacob Longacre and QCC Assistant Vice President Kathy Rentsch
  • QCC Professor of Engineering & Sciences Dadbeh Bigonahy
    QCC Professor of Engineering & Sciences Dadbeh Bigonahy

On October 3, Quinsigamond Community College (QCC) and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) held an Integrated Photonics Symposium at WPI, designed to inform and enlighten the region on the advancements of integrated photonics and discuss its new collaborative AIM Photonics Academy Lab for Education & Application Prototypes (LEAP). Speakers included those from academia, as well as industry and government.

Photonics is an area of technology that involves transmitting and processing information with light (photons) instead of electricity (electrons) and is a shining light to the future of advanced technologies. Integrated photonics applications in communications, computing, healthcare, and other industries are becoming more commonplace.

The day-long symposium, which featured speakers, panel discussions and breakout sessions gave the first comprehensive insight into the LEAP, which is being housed on WPI’s campus. The facility will serve as a hub in Central Massachusetts for training in integrated photonics. In early January 2018, a $4 million Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2) grant was awarded to the QCC and WPI partnership by Lt. Governor Karyn Polito to support the emerging and future technology of integrated photonics through the launch LEAP. To date the Central Massachusetts LEAP is only the second one in the Commonwealth.

“What excites me about this collaboration and partnership with community colleges in particular, is that students who might not have access to the benefits of this technology are now given this opportunity,” QCC President Dr. Luis G. Pedraja said.

QCC and WPI will be offering students a strong educational foundation in integrated photonics (from certificate programs through PhD), expanding workforce training opportunities. President Pedraja noted that it is imperative to train jobs for the future not the jobs of yesteryear or even today.

“We need to teach them the skills that will benefit them two to three years into the future when they graduate and continue to keep them trained to keep up with the sciences,” Dr. Pedraja said, adding, “It’s good to be one of the steps on the highway to the future.”

Kathy Rentsch, QCC Assistant Vice President for Workforce Readiness and Innovation noted that the bulk of QCC students live, work and intend to stay in the region.

“They are your regional workforce asset. We are an important part of this pipeline,” she said. “We are looking to secure the future of manufacturing in this region, in this state and across the country through innovation, education and collaboration.” 

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