OSA, SPIE lobby U.S. Congress on R&D funding

Members of the Optical Society of America and SPIE-The International Society for Optical Engineering traveled to Washington, D.C. May 10-11 to express to Congress the need for increased and balanced federal investment in research and development, reiterating that federally funded research is critical to securing the nation’s future.

WASHINGTON, DC - Members of the Optical Society of America and SPIE-The International Society for Optical Engineering traveled to Washington, D.C. May 10-11 to express to Congress the need for increased and balanced federal investment in research and development, reiterating that federally funded research is critical to securing the nation’s future.

Peter Delfyett (FL), Alex Fong (FL), Jason Eichenholz (FL), Robert Breault (AZ), Jim McNally (NM), James Harrington (NJ), Wayne Knox (NY), Carolyn Russell (NY), Silvia Mioc (CO), Marylyn Bennett (TX), Richard Hoover (AL), Randy Heyler (CA), Elizabeth Kunkee (CA), Keri Then (CA), John Burris (MD), Colin McCormick (MD), Forrest Hall (MD), Jim Collatz (MD), William Heaps (VA), and Haris Riris (VA), joined with more than 200 scientists, engineers, and business leaders on Capitol Hill as part of the 10th annual “Congressional Visits Days,” an event sponsored by the Science-Engineering-Technology Work Group.

Despite a surprise evacuation of Capitol Hill, members of OSA and SPIE discussed the importance of the nation’s broad portfolio of investments in science, engineering and technology to homeland security, defense, education, and innovation with many Congressional offices. They were able to provide a constituent perspective on the local and national impact of these programs and their significance to optics and photonics. The group also spoke in support of legislation introduced in Congress to help support students going into math and science fields as well as the growing ways that the fields of optics and photonics can further the objectives of the United States’ government.

“Politicians have repeatedly told us that the lack of influence of scientists and engineers on the policy-making process is due to our miserably low presence on Capitol Hill and in their district offices,” said Eugene Arthurs, SPIE Executive Director. “Today, more and more important issues, for example the future of our economy, our environment, and global sustainability, are dependent on the capability and limitations of science and technology. We have much to do to win recognition of the importance of science and engineering to the future prosperity and security of our children.”

According to SPIE, more than 50% of all industrial innovation and growth in the United States since World War II can be attributed to advances pioneered through scientific research, with publicly funded R&D the vital foundation for today’s scientific and technological progress. Examples of scientific and technological advances that can be traced back to federally funding include global environmental monitoring, lasers, liquid crystal displays, and the Internet.

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