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Ed White appointed National Photonics Initiative committee chief

03 Aug 2017

Currently heading up corporate outreach at AIM Photonics, White previously worked at Kodak.

The US National Photonics Initiative (NPI) has appointed Ed White, currently associate VP of test, assembly and packaging and also responsible for corporate outreach at AIM Photonics, as the new chair of its steering committee.

White, who has served on the NPI’s steering committee since December 2015, will assume his new role with immediate effect. Current chair Alan Willner will remain involved, and become a regular member of the steering committee.

“I am delighted to announce that our distinguished friend Ed White will become the next chair of the NPI Steering Committee,” said Willner in a statement from NPI. “As a long-time leading voice within the optics and photonics community, Ed brings a wealth of wisdom and private-sector expertise to the NPI. I know that there are truly great things to come under his leadership.”

Kodak, Rochester alumnus
In his corporate outreach role at AIM Photonics, White is responsible for identifying companies that would participate in and benefit from improvements in the manufacturing of photonic integrated circuits (PICs), educating the community about the merits of photonic integrated devices, and increasing membership in AIM Photonics.

The University of Rochester alumnus, who previously worked at Kodak, also focused on AIM Photonics' sustainability, after the initial five-year period of US government funding expires.

In his dual role as the associate VP of AIM Photonics' test, assembly and packaging (TAP) activity – based out of the former Eastman Kodak building in Rochester that is now owned by ON Semiconductor - White is also responsible for launching the TAP facility and its ongoing business operations.

During his two-year term as steering committee chair, Willner worked to identify key optics and photonics technologies that could benefit different areas of critical importance to the US, including future high-performance computing and quantum information systems.

He also oversaw efforts to establish a task force to develop a white paper and cancer technology “road map”, intended to accelerate cancer diagnosis.

Political victories with photonics relevance made under Willner’s leadership have included the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act and the 21st Century Cures Act, both signed into law by President Obama.

The NPI also helped secure a specific mention of optics and photonics internships in the Senate-introduced Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (known as CTE) in September 2016.

“As a community, we have made wonderful progress, and I am quite optimistic that optics and photonics will continue to flourish for the betterment of society,” Willner reflected. “It has been a great privilege to be part of this unique collaboration, and I look forward to assisting Ed and continuing the work as a member of the NPI steering committee.”

Eye on quantum
White paid tribute to Willner’s achievements, adding: “It is an honor to serve as chair of an organization that for the past several years has successfully united our community to advance optics and photonics in the United States.”

Set up by founding sponsors SPIE and OSA after the US National Research Council’s 2012 follow-up report to the highly influential “Harnessing Light” analysis of the late 1990s, the NPI’s mission is to promote optics and photonics technology and its cross-cutting utility across a variety of applications and markets.

Willner had succeeded NPI’s inaugural chair Tom Baer, who led the organization from its inception in May 2013 through July 2015. Baer, Willner and White served together on the National Academies committee that drafted the Harnessing Light follow-up study “Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation”.

That follow-up study spawned the creation of the AIM Photonics program, which is focused around the development of PICs and PIC applications.

In June, NPI issued a report recommending that a US National Quantum Initiative (NQI) is set up to accelerate commercial availability of emerging technologies harnessing quantum physics effects – something that would mirror similar efforts in China, Europe, and the UK, and a sector in which optics and photonics technologies are set to play a key role.

It called for $500 million of new public funding over five years to support several “Quantum Innovation Labs” that would act as proving grounds and testbeds for quantum technologies.

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