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California team outlines photonics institute proposal

05 Feb 2015

Details emerge of the third shortlisted bid, featuring partners in Arizona, New Mexico and Ohio.

The University of Southern California (USC) has released details of its bid to host the proposed Integrated Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (IP-IMI), the third plan to be shortlisted by the US Department of Defense.

It follows the plans outlined by rival collaborations based in New York and Florida last week. The three bid teams will now flesh out their proposals for submission by the end of next month, with the DOD expected to announce the winner in June.

As well as USC, the bid features support from institutes across California, plus Arizona State University in Tempe, the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, and Ohio State University in Columbus.

If successful, the California bid will become known as the “Integrated Photonics Institute and Center for Design and Manufacturing Services”, or IPI-CDMS for short.

Officials say that it would be headquartered in Los Angeles, with regional hubs at Berkeley in San Francisco and San Diego, as well as Arizona, Albuquerque and Columbus. “The headquarters and hubs would each focus on specific market segments and would work closely with the regional industry,” said USC.

The Information Sciences Institute (ISI) at USC, which is co-ordinating the proposal within the Viterbi School of Engineering, said that the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) would also participate in the formation of the Los Angeles headquarters if successful.

Broad national scope
Yannis Yortsos, dean of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, said in a statement: “The USC proposal represents a strong partnership with top universities from California and the nation and enjoys the support of a wide spectrum of industry and the public sector in California.”

John Damoulakis, deputy director of the ISI and the lead for the proposal, told optics.org: "The team has a broad national scope. All of the university partners will be targeted to create hubs or centers for the photonics industry."

He added: "All the industry segments in the commercial and defense markets are supporting this proposal. These companies range from systems providers to manufacturers of components to foundries."

Before joining ISI in 2002, Damoulakis was a senior director at Lockheed Martin, where he managed research relating to DOD systems.

Announced by President Obama last October as part of a wider plan to invest in US manufacturing, the IP-IMI is set to receive $110 million in federal funding over a five-year period. That must be matched by at least another $110 million from a combination of the private sector and state and local governments.

Last week teams based in Rochester, New York, and central Florida confirmed that they had been shortlisted to host the IP-IMI. While Arizona State University (ASU) features in the USC bid, the Rochester proposal is believed to include its neighbors at the University of Arizona.

Prem Natarajan, executive director of USC’s ISI and vice dean of engineering at Viterbi, said: “The USC-led consortium includes national and world leaders in every key area of the photonics industry; by harnessing our collective resources and strengths and through engagement with stakeholders at the regional and national levels, we are uniquely poised to advance US leadership in the area of photonics.”

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