Massachusetts announces $3.8M grant for new integrated-photonics training hub, third one in state

Oct. 31, 2019
The new photonics lab, co-led by Bridgewater State University and Stonehill College, will join one at MIT and a collaborative project between Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Quinsigamond Community College.

Massachusetts’ Baker-Polito Administration has announced two new grants totaling $5.2 million from the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2) to support the development of new advanced manufacturing technologies across the state. The grants awarded include $3.8 million to fund a new integrated-photonics training facility that will be co-led by Bridgewater State University and Stonehill College and located in Easton, where funding will support the creation of a facility for students training to be technicians or engineers in integrated photonics for uses such as telecommunications, precision measurements, biomedical sensing and imaging, optic and laser development, and autonomous vehicles.

This will be the third Lab for Education and Application Prototypes (LEAP) for integrated photonics in the Commonwealth, joining facilities at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT; Cambridge) and a collaborative project between Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and Quinsigamond Community College in Central Massachusetts, both projects supported by M2I2.

The $3,807,731 “Southeastern Massachusetts Lab for Education and Application Prototypes” (SEMA LEAP) award will create a regional integrated photonics hub centered at both Stonehill College and Bridgewater State University (BSU). The project will combine the complementary strengths, resources, and know-how of each institution to further technology, innovation, workforce training, and manufacturing in Massachusetts in photonic integrated circuits (PICs). SEMA LEAP will train and educate photonics industry technician-level and engineering workforce to support new economic growth and development in areas such as telecommunication and data-communication, precision measurements, biomedical sensing and imaging, optic and laser development, and autonomous driving.

Lt. Governor Karyn Polito announced the new funding at an event hosted at the Dana Mohler-Faria Science and Mathematics Center at Bridgewater State University, which, along with partner Stonehill College, will host some of the new M2I2 program-funded infrastructure. The Lt. Governor also announced a $1.5 million grant to Human Systems Integration, Inc., of Walpole, to support its collaboration with UMass Lowell to evolve its garment-embedded physiological monitoring platform.
M2I2 co-invests in four of the national manufacturing institutes under Manufacturing USA, areas where Massachusetts can play a leading role globally. The Bridgewater/Stonehill Project is supported by AIM Photonics and the HSI grant by the national NextFlex institute (flexible hybrid electronics), with additional M2I2 projects supported by the ARM institute (robotics) and AFFOA (advanced functional fabrics) which is based in Cambridge, MA.

“We deeply appreciate the Baker-Polito Administration’s investment in our photonics engineering program,” said Bridgewater State University President Frederick W. Clark Jr. “This investment will create new and exciting opportunities for our students to gain skills in an emerging field that is making cutting edge changes in areas such as telecommunications, data communications, laser-based radar, and sensing. As most of our students work in Massachusetts after graduation, BSU will meet the current and growing workforce needs of photonics and optics companies in our state.”


About the Author

John Wallace | Senior Technical Editor (1998-2022)

John Wallace was with Laser Focus World for nearly 25 years, retiring in late June 2022. He obtained a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and physics at Rutgers University and a master's in optical engineering at the University of Rochester. Before becoming an editor, John worked as an engineer at RCA, Exxon, Eastman Kodak, and GCA Corporation.

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