SAN DIEGO, Calif., August 8 -- Total attendance at SPIE's 48th Annual Meeting through Thursday was 5256, the highest it's been since 2001, organizers reported. SPIE said although the final numbers are not in yet, they are projected to be up from last year, which contributed to the generally good mood among exhibitors. Organizers said the overall feeling from exhibitors and exhibit attendees was "very positive. It seemed like for the first time in a few years delegates were prepared to talk business instead of just window-shop. One exhibitor who spoke with a SPIE staff member said his group came away with some 250 leads, and many exhibitors said they were able to pay for their trips by the first or second day." Thursday was one of the busiest days of the week at the symposium, with numerous technical group meetings and special events on top of a full day of conferences, organizers reported. High-speed imaging and analysis, optomechanical/instrument and penetrating radiation technical groups all held meetings on Thursday evening. Meg Urry, director of Yale University's Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, was the featured speaker at a well-attended presentation by The Women In Optics Working Group. In addition to her pioneering work on the formation of galaxies, she has a longstanding interest in the issue of women and minorities in science. She led the US delegation to the first International Conference on Women in Physics, held in Paris in March 2002. She also chairs the Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy of the American Astronomical Society and is a recent member of the corresponding committee of the American Physical Society. Annual meeting exhibitors gathered for breakfast Thursday morning to hear plans for next year's event, which will be held in Denver, Colo. A display of stunning photographs from the world of optics was shown in the exhibit hall. The traveling collection was assembled by Andrew Davidhazy, Rochester Institute of Technology. James C. Wyant received the SPIE's Gold Medal award at the annual awards banquet Wednesday night. A workshop on "Funding Highly Innovative, High Impact Technology: The NIST Advanced Technology Program (ATP)" drew a large audience Wednesday. The ATP provides R&D funding to technology-driven companies and company-led teams to bridge the gap between the research lab and the market place. ATP's cost-sharing partnerships with the private sector helps American companies pursue path-breaking, innovative technologies deemed too technically risky for conventional funding.