Archive for September 2015

2015 New York Photonics Awards Presented at Annual Meeting

September 25, 2015


ROCHESTER, NY, September 17th. 2015 – The Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster/New York Photonics (RRPC) today honored three leaders in education and business for their contributions to New York’s Optics and Photonics Industry.

RRPC Executive Director Tom Battley joined past years’ award winners to present the awards in front of more than 300 representatives from industry, government and education from across the region at the New York Photonics 2015 Annual Meeting held in the Rochester Museum and Science Center.

BickslerThe RRPC Entrepreneur Award
is given each year to an individual for demonstrating creativity, innovative spirit and drive in pursuit of the dream of creating an industry-leading company in the Optics, Photonics and Imaging Industry. The Entrepreneur Award recipient for 2015 is Bob Bicksler, CEO of JML Optical Industries in East Rochester, NY.

Bicksler has served as the President and CEO of JML Optical Industries since the 2011 change of ownership. He is responsible for developing the company’s strategy and has led numerous initiatives to position JML as a leader in the optics industry. Prior to acquiring JML with several partners, Bob served as the President and CEO of a leading provider of software products and services for the mobile device market. Bob has over 30 years of operational and financial background in manufacturing, technology, and telecommunications companies. His track record is one of continued success in growing companies and delivering superior products to a wide range of customers.

Bob is a Lecturer (part-time) of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School. He is also an active instructor at North Carolina School of Science and Math (NCSSM), part of the UNC system. NCSSM is the world’s first public, residential high school for juniors and seniors that provides a specialized curriculum in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math. Bob holds degrees from The Pennsylvania State University (BS, Business Administration) and The University of North Texas (MS).


DuncanMoorePhotoThe RRPC Leadership Award is given each year to an individual for working with RRPC members and the community to promote the Rochester Region’s Optics, Photonics and Imaging Industry. The Leadership Award recipient for 2015 is Dr. Duncan Moore.

Moore is the Rudolf and Hilda Kingslake Professor of Optical Engineering, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and Professor of Business Administration at the University of Rochester. In 2007, he was also appointed Vice Provost for Entrepreneurship at the University. In this role, he manages the Kauffman Campus Initiative ($10.6M over 5 years). From 1995 to 1997, Dr. Moore was Dean of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University, and in 1996 he also served as President of the Optical Society of America. The U.S. Senate confirmed Dr. Moore in the fall of 1997 as Associate Director for Technology in The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). In this position, which ended December 2000, he worked with Dr. Neal Lane, President Clinton’s Science Advisor, to advise the President on U.S. technology policy.

Moore has extensive experience in the academic, research, business, and governmental arenas of science and technology. He is an expert in gradient index optics, solar cell design, computer-aided design, and the manufacture of optical systems. In 1993, Dr. Moore began a one-year appointment as Science Advisor to Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia. He also chaired the successful Hubble Independent Optical Review Panel organized in 1990 to determine the correct prescription of the Hubble Space Telescope. He currently chairs the Product-Integrity-Team for the James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. He is also the founder and former president of Gradient Lens Corporation of Rochester, NY, a company that manufactures the Hawkeye boroscope. He holds Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in optics from the University of Rochester, and a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Maine. Dr. Moore was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in February 1998, and in 2006 Moore received the Gold Medal of The International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE). Dr. Moore was the recipient of the 2009 Edwin H. Land Medal presented by the Society for Imaging Science and Technology and the Optical Society of America.

Conrow2The RRPC Education Award is given each year to an individual for inspiring students to embrace Optics, Photonics, and Imaging sciences and guiding them in career development. The Education Award recipient for 2015 is East High School Science Teacher Paul Conrow.

Conrow initiated and developed the East High School Optics Manufacturing Lab (Rochester, NY) that includes a complete shop for manufacturing precision optics.  He was the initiator, with New York Photonics Executive Director and a team of volunteers, of the Optics Summer Sizzler, a summer immersion program for teaching students and teachers about optics and photonics.

Conrow helped run a summer physics research program for area high school students, under the direction of Professor Kevin McFarland at the University of Rochester. This paid experience for students required them to refurbish, test, and experiment with several 3’ x 10’ solid scintillating panels.  He has worked with students to perform cosmic ray experiments with scintillating panels on the university campus. The final destination for the panels is FermiLab in Batavia, Illinois as part of a multi-year neutrino experiment that began in 2009.

Light-based Memory Chip Stores To Permanent, Non-Volatile Memory

September 24, 2015

memory-chipThe world’s first entirely light-based memory chip to store data permanently has been developed by material scientists at Oxford University in collaboration with scientists at Karlsruhe, Munster and Exeter. The device, which makes use of materials used in CDs and DVDs, could help dramatically improve the speed of modern computing.

Today’s computers are held back by the relatively slow transmission of electronic data between the processor and the memory. ‘There’s no point using faster processors if the limiting factor is the shuttling of information to-and-from the memory — the so-called von-Neumann bottleneck,’ explains Professor Harish Bhaskaran, who led the research. ‘But we think using light can significantly speed this up.’

>>Read More<<



SUNY Poly trying to acquire NYSERDA facility for $1

September 24, 2015

A real estate arm of SUNY Polytechnic Institute is trying to acquire a 280-acre property in Saratoga County from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

But amid reports of subpoenas for the school and greater scrutiny of state contracts, the authority took no action on the issue when its officials met this week.

The property transfer price is listed as $1 in a draft contract between NYSERDA and Fuller Road Management Corp., a nonprofit that leases and develops property for SUNY Poly, according to a copy obtained by POLITICO New York. The Saratoga Technology + Energy Park, near the GlobalFoundries chip fab, is approved for 1 million square feet of office, manufacturing and research and development space.

SUNY Poly Former CNSE Awarded $9.2 Million

September 24, 2015

A SUNY Polytechnic Institute nanotechnology center has been awarded $9.2 million over 10 years.

The money is being offered through the state’s Division of Science, Technology, and Innovation, or NYSTAR. It will go toward commercialization, education and outreach of the university’s nanoelectronics and nanomaterials center in Albany, New York.

Let There Be Light

September 16, 2015

Rick Williams and KenLou Foundation had an idea.  This can be a very dangerous thing.  Creativity ensues.  Things get messy.  What emerged is going to be extraordinary, and it will be debuting Friday night in Eastman’s Kilbourn Hall as part of the First Niagara Fringe Festival.

Sponsored by KenLou Foundation, Corning Incorporated, The Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster, Rochester Area Community Foundation, and made possible by one guy who connected them all: Rick Williams This is going to be one cool show and an international debut worth getting a ticket for, if you can get one.


Schumer Out Front on Munitions List Rule Category XII

September 11, 2015

Proposed Fed Rule Would Have Put Optics & Photonics Products On Restricted Export Control List, Preventing Companies From Bringing High-Tech Products To Foreign Markets 

Schumer Successfully Urged Feds To Go Back & Revise Rule To Ensure Photonics Industry Would Not Be Disadvantaged By Overly Restrictive Regulations 

Schumer: Feds Will Go Back To The Drawing Board To Rewrite Rule & Better Promote the Growth of Job-Creating Rochester Industry

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced the Department of Commerce, and Department of State will rewrite a proposed federal rule that would have put restrictive limits on optics and photonics exports and effectively prevent American companies from selling the photonics industry’s non-security sensitive technology to foreign markets. The proposed rule came after Schumer successfully aided Rochester’s efforts to become the new American Institute for Manufacturing (AIM) Photonics. As a result, Schumer went to bat for Rochester photonics companies that would have been harmed by the proposed rule. If the rule was implemented in its proposed form, Schumer said optics and photonics labs in Rochester would have been unable to export certain products around the world.

“Putting overly restrictive controls on optics and photonics products – just as the American Institute for Manufacturing (AIM) Photonics is gaining steam – would have been disastrous for Rochester,” said Schumer. “That is why I urged the federal government to go back to the drawing board and rewrite the rule so this thriving industry is not forced to move production overseas or cut jobs just as it is getting started.”

Specifically, the rule aimed to place certain products on an export control list that would have put strict limits on the type of products that could be exported. Schumer said this rule was misguided, as optics and photonics technology can be used for commercial, non-military purposes, including in life-saving healthcare products. Implementing the rule would also put this industry as a significant competitive disadvantage and force optics and photonics production overseas. Following Schumer’s push, these federal agencies have agreed to go back to the drawing board and revise this rule so as to not threaten the optics and photonics industry, which has experienced significant growth in Rochester. The rule will now be revised to protect sensitive technology and national security interests, while ensuring optics and photonics products can be exported around the world.

Following Schumer’s push, these federal agencies have agreed to go back to the drawing board and revise this rule so as to not threaten the optics and photonics industry, which has experienced significant growth in Rochester. The rule will now be revised to protect sensitive technology and national security interests, while ensuring optics and photonics components used in commercial non-military products can be exported around the world. 

Schumer said that this proposed rule would subject companies like those in Rochester, which produce lasers and infrared components in devices for commercial, non-military use, to unfair regulations that could greatly inhibit their international competitiveness. Schumer said many of the components produced by the optics and photonics industry, which may have initially been used in military technology, are used in products such as laser components in healthcare devices. In July, Schumer asked DOD, Commerce Department, and State Department to carefully rewrite the proposed rule in a way that more precisely delineates which parts and components fall under the USML and which could fall under the less restrictive Commerce Control List (CCL).

Schumer said that this proposed rule would subject companies in the Rochester  Finger Lakes region like Optimax Systems, Inc which is a manufacturer of precision optics located in Wayne County New York. Optimax employs more than 250 people with growth projections to create more than 25 jobs each year for the next 5 years. This company will produce photonics components for defense, semiconductor, medical and aerospace markets, which includes producing the camera lenses for the Mars Rovers and the Pluto probe called New Horizons.

Rick Plympton, CEO of Optimax said, “The news of a new second draft regulation is encouraging since the first draft included proposed changes that reached beyond the traditional munitions list to broadly include components for lithography equipment such as optical mirrors, aspheric optics and excimer lasers.  These limitations could impede commercial product sales and relationships that Optimax has been developing.”

Schumer has long advocated for the optics and photonics industry, which has served as an anchor of economic growth across Upstate New York. Earlier this month, Schumer successfully secured $110 million for the University of Rochester (UR), New York Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly), and Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) to establish a state-of-the-art advanced photonics and manufacturing institute. The site will be part of a broader initiative launched in 2014 by the Obama Administration to establish manufacturing and photonics institutes around the country. The UR-SUNY Poly-RIT AIM Photonics center will focus on developing various integrated photonics products, many of  some of which were at risk of being prevented from spreading to foreign markets if the proposed rule was implemented.

A copy of Schumer’s original letter to the DOD, Commerce Department and State Department appears below:

Dear Secretary Pritzker, Secretary Kerry and Secretary Carter:

I write to express my concerns regarding the recently proposed rule published for Category XII of the U.S. Munitions List (USML). The optics and photonics industries in my state has informed me that the proposed rule would significantly limit their ability to export their parts and components for commercial, non-military use. I ask that the Department of Commerce and the Department of State thoroughly review comments submitted to the record and work with stakeholders in the optics and photonics industries, as well as academia, to rewrite the proposed rule in a way that more precisely delineates which parts and components fall under the USML and which could fall under the Commerce Control List (CCL). New USML regulations must be carefully devised to both strengthen our national security and allow for future growth in rapidly advancing high-tech industries.

The U.S. optics and photonics industry in my State is concerned that if the proposed rule to Category XII of the USML is implemented, some of our nation’s most innovate industries would be restricted from growing and producing more good paying jobs. The optics and photonics industry employs over 175,000 people at over 900 companies nationwide, including over 15,000 workers across 100 companies based in the greater Rochester New York area, producing cutting-edge military and commercial technology.

I am concerned that the proposed Category XII USML rule diverges from the Export Control Reform (ECR) Initiative objectives of better protecting highly sensitive US military technology, while allowing for increased export growth in less sensitive technology used in commercial items. Laser and infrared components, for example, are used in Category XII USML devices, but also have commercial uses in life saving healthcare products. These components should have the appropriate avenues for export approval to allow for their needed use in healthcare and to support U.S. production. Restrictive and confusing USML regulations could have the unfortunate effect of driving U.S. production of USML components abroad.

Specifically, I am concerned that the proposed rule does not properly differentiate between items that fall under the USML and items that could fall under the Department of Commerce’s Control List (CCL). As you know, in 2013 as part of the ECR Initiative, the Department of Defense and the Department of Commerce agreed upon the “specially designed” for military use definition that was intended to simplify the distinction between USML items and dual-use (commercial and military) items that could fall under the CCL. I urge you to consider using this definition in Category XII where it is appropriate.

Again, I ask that you thoroughly review submitted comments and work with stakeholders in the optics and photonics industries, as well as academia, to rewrite the proposed rule. The proposed Category XII USML rule would include many rapidly advancing technologies that could be appropriately used for commercial purposes around the world. We must strike a balance between protecting our sensitive military technology and preventing unfair barriers for exporting technology in job growing industries.

Thank you for your time and attention on this important issue. I look forward to working with you to further the ERC Initiative.



Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator