“I hope this is the start of a valuable collaboration,” Lesser said
Springfield — Senator Eric P. Lesser welcomed representatives from MIT’s AIM Photonics program to Springfield Friday to tour STCC’s “Laser Lab” and discuss how the region could maintain its reputation as a national leader in high-tech manufacturing.
“Western Mass is known for the major manufacturers based in the area. Now we need to be ready to take advantage of the region’s renaissance in high-tech manufacturing, and information-sharing is one critical piece of how we get there. I hope this is the start of a valuable collaboration,” said Lesser, Chairman of the Economic Development and Emerging Technologies Committee.
Springfield sits in the middle of the I-90 corridor, with Rochester, N.Y., on one end and Boston, M.A., on the other. The area is home to much of the research being done on lasers, and the ways they can be used in various industries from surgery and medical imaging to military technology and robotics.
In 2015, MIT was awarded part of a $110 million federal grant to promote this type of high-tech manufacturing, called Photonics. In a public-private partnership with the state, MIT began a Photonics workforce development program led by Professor Lionel C. Kimerling.
STCC boasts the state’s most advanced technical program for training people to work with lasers in high-tech manufacturing, and is responsible for training many of the employees in the region.
“This was a great event that showcased STCC’s capabilities with regard to photonics technology education and its important role in advancing integrated photonics manufacturing along the I-90 corridor and the New England region,” said STCC Laser Electro-Optics Technology Professor Dr. Nicholas Massa.
The question for lawmakers is how to ensure Springfield remains the center of this cutting-edge research and training, and how to attract more students to come to Springfield to learn these skills and fill the many high-tech manufacturing jobs coming to the region.
In conjunction with STCC, Lesser hosted a lunch with faculty and students from both schools, including STCC President John Cook and Kimerling, followed by a roundtable discussion with local leaders in manufacturing, business and consulting. A number of employers in the region were represented, including Convergent Photonics, IPG Photonics, Coherent-Nufern and A&M Tool Design.
These industry leaders and research experts discussed how laser technology will revolutionize the operations of local high-tech manufacturers, creating thousands of new high-skilled jobs.
“Springfield sits at the center of a corridor between Rochester and Boston that could become the ‘Silicon Valley of Lasers,’” Lesser said.