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  • Byproduct of the bailout

Photonics Spectra
Dec 2008
Diane Laurin

Maybe the idea of bailing out the Big Three automakers is not appetizing for anyone but, say, the Big Three. Just the same, the simultaneously declared bankruptcy could sink a long list of businesses, employees and industries, not the least of which is our own.

That’s because we’re keeping company with the same auto suppliers, communities and regions perched on the brink by reports of the possible bankruptcy of GM, Ford and Chrysler. Photonics technologies are teeming with applications that are presently used or being readied for use in automotive production, safety and efficiency, and those same technologies are at risk without a federal bailout.

From materials for LEDs and waveguide technology to sensors, head-up displays and communications systems, photonics technology “offers better performance compared to semiconductor technologies for a number of applications,” said a 2007 Frost & Sullivan report. Photonics companies have listened and worked hard to bring new products and processes to market for car manufacturers.

So like it or not, our industry is just as hip deep in the breakers as the others, and when the Big Three executives return to Congress with the business plan they should have brought on the first trip, the photonics businesses will most likely have to swallow hard and accept the bailout of those responsible for the wreck in the first place.

The chain effect of decisions made by a few shortsighted, grossly overpaid executives notwithstanding, we’ll be better off with a comprehensive plan to keep Detroit solid. The best strategy is to grudgingly accept that we’re all in the same boat and that we’ll continue shoring up the automotive industry with innovation to keep our own businesses stable and profitable.

Then, when Detroit is ready to build a car that sells, the photonics businesses will likewise be ready with the tools to help them succeed.

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