Archive for September 2012

U.S. Secretary of Labor Visits Monroe Community College

September 24, 2012

Highlights $14.6 million grant awarded to SUNY community colleges

Rochester – U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today visited Monroe Community College’s Applied Technologies Center to celebrate and highlight a $14.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to a consortium of State University of New York community colleges.

PIC1 Coordinator _Kress_Solis_Student PM.jpg

Secretary Solis was hosted by SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher and MCC President Anne M. Kress. Community leaders in business development and advanced manufacturing, as well as elected officials, also took part in the visit.

“This federal support will help grow SUNY’s already powerful capacity to prepare students for careers in high-tech and advanced manufacturing fields where there is such a high demand in New York and across the country,” said Chancellor Zimpher. “Secretary Solis’ visit to Monroe highlights SUNY’s potential to bring these innovative solutions to scale across the state. I applaud our congressional delegation for working so diligently in securing these funds and for their continued partnership and recognition of SUNY’s ability to drive economic development and job growth across New York.”

“Monroe Community College is proud to lead this initiative coordinating all 30 SUNY community colleges in preparing more New Yorkers for viable advanced manufacturing careers,” said Kress. “This investment by the U.S. Department of Labor in our system will help us develop innovative educational programming along career pathways so that individuals can find good jobs today and even better careers tomorrow.”

The grant, issued as part of the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program, will allow the consortium of all SUNY community colleges to design, implement, and deliver a strategic approach to job training and education for high-need industries such as nanotechnology and advanced manufacturing.

Manufacturing in the Rochester region is alive and growing, said Jim Sydor, president and owner of Sydor Optics. His company manufactures precision optics for industries such as defense, entertainment and life sciences. “We are very busy. The lack of qualified advanced manufacturing workers is preventing some RRPC members from growing,” Sydor said.

“By maximizing the collective power of the system of community colleges, nearly 3,000 displaced workers will return to high-wage, 21st century advanced manufacturing jobs,” said Johanna Duncan-Poitier, SUNY Senior Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges and the Education Pipeline. “This represents yet another avenue for our extensive network of industry partners to work with us in strengthening our state and local economies by creating jobs and hiring right here in New York.”

The grant is part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative, which promotes skills development and employment opportunities in fields such as advanced manufacturing, transportation and health care, as well as science, technology, engineering and math careers through partnerships between training providers and local employers.

Those who participated in today’s event include (* denotes speaker):


  • Hilda L. Solis, U.S. Secretary of Labor *
  • Nancy L. Zimpher, Chancellor, State University of New York *
  • Anne M. Kress, President, Monroe Community College *
  • Todd Oldham, Vice President, Economic Development and Innovative Workforce Services, Monroe Community College
  • Javier Ayala, Dean, Career Technical Education, Monroe Community College
  • Jim Sydor, President and Owner, Sydor Optics *
  • Johanna Duncan-Poitier, Senior Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges and the Education Pipeline, Statue University of New York
  • Michael Frame, Director of Federal Relations, State University of New York
  • Diane Cecero, General Counsel/Government Relations, Monroe Community College
  • David Dahrsnin, student, Monroe Community College

RRPC Annual Meeting: Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation

September 11, 2012

Participants hear about Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation

Expert Panel Discusses What Will Drive Optics and Photonics Growth

The RRPC brought together over 200 industry leaders to hear the findings from the recently released report, Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for our Nation. (Read more from the Innovation Trail).

Get more about the report from SPIE here.

While optics-related technologies make up 25% of the GDP, OPI is not recognized as an industry. Without specific recognition, it is difficult to track and forecast spending, win funding, and attract high school kids to this career track.

According to panelist Kent Gardner, Chief Economist at the Center For Governmental Research, one major obstacle to broader recognition of the industry is our lack of storytelling. While optics is integral to much of the sweeping tech changes we’ve seen in the last 20 years, we think and talk about ourselves as “job shops”, sub-sub-sub assemblies, if we’re talking about it at all.

Raise the visibility and importance and funding will follow.

So what will it take to market the optics industry?

Set a Vision. As one of the panelists put it, we’ve got to “dream dreams in a form that the people who control the money can understand.”

We’re working to help market companies that solve problems like improving body armor, which can cut soldier deaths by 1000s each year. One company has the potential to save millions of lives from preventable, treatable disease, through rapid field diagnostics and disease management. One’s aerial imaging system helped get aid faster to victims of the Haiti earthquake and Hudson River Valley floods.

This is sexy stuff. Define your impact and get the story out.

Stop Assuming They Understand. Optics is an incestuous industry–your customer might also be your supplier and your partner. Because we’re insulated and surrounded by people who talk in the same language, care about the same things, we’re losing perspective on what our end customers value and think about.


  1. Listen to your target customers. Interviews, customer surveys, product previews–whatever the forum, assume nothing.
  2. Edit out the dirty words. What words do you and your employees use that either are industry jargon that cause non-optics people to tune out, or commoditize what you do?
  3. Broaden the net. Work with your customers to tell your story in a broader technical arena. Think Discover magazine, not just Photonics Spectra.

Both government R&D dollars and commercial funding depend on your ability to sell your vision.  OPI needs better marketing to get the funding that will drive the next wave of technological advancements.

This community can take action and ensure Rochester and the US’s leading position. We’re willing to help head up a volunteer committee, craft or critique your pitch to Albany or DC, continue to support the cluster in getting the word out.

Have an idea? Willing to get involved? Let Tom Battley or me ( – a committee of action-focused industry leaders will spur action.

– Michele Nichols Gleber, PLS Launch Solutions