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  • Optics Coalition Discontinues Operations

Photonics Spectra
Jan 2004
As of December 2003, the member board of the Coalition for Photonics and Optics (CPO) has dissolved the association.

Robert P. Breault, 2003 CPO chairman, reported that the organization's mission was threefold when it was established in 1996: to promote optics as a discipline, to publicize the then recently published COSE (Committee on Optical Science and Engineering) report "Harnessing Light," and to explore activities such as educational endeavors, standards development and public policy related to photonics and optics. A goal of the consortium was to foster communication among US optics and photonics organizations, including OSA, SPIE, IEEE, LEOS and LEOMA. In line with this, two of the 2003 board members were Eugene G. Arthurs, executive director of SPIE, and Elizabeth A. Rogan, executive director of OSA.

According to Breault, founder of Breault Research Organization Inc. of Tucson, Ariz., the dissolution of the coalition came about for a variety of reasons, some market-related. At the time it was published, the COSE report, for instance, was intended as a working document to detail the breadth, depth and future of the optics and photonics industry. The technology and makeup of the optics and photonics market have changed dramatically since then. Breault and Arthurs agree that many in the industry consider it now to be of value primarily as a historical document, and they suggest that perhaps there is a need for a new report to examine the state of today's industry.

Although CPO no longer provides a conduit for information among societies, a communications link remains in place, especially evident in the educational endeavors of OSA, SPIE and other groups. Examples include the recent $1.7 million National Science Foundation grant awarded to OSA and SPIE, along with MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory. The goal of this three-year program is to implement a national middle-school science education program called Hands-On Optics: Making an Impact with Light.

Breault, Rogan and Arthurs report that other activities promoted by CPO, such as Congressional Visit Day and the Joint Advocacy for Optics and Photonics, also will continue. Rogan said that the time and effort committed by the many members of CPO have created a solid foundation that could lead to new partnering among these groups in the future.

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