Photonics industry representatives from throughout the US visited congressional offices on Capitol Hill this fall as part of the National Photonics Initiative, a collaborative alliance among industry, academia and government that was formed to stress the importance of photonics in the US in economic progress and global technology leadership. The 19 volunteers SPIE sponsored – representing mainly companies and photonics organizations – said their visits to approximately 45 offices were overwhelmingly positive, but they found that photonics still has a long way to go to attain name familiarity, even among offices generally supportive of science and technology R&D, SPIE reported. Messages about the number and value of jobs created by the photonics industry were very compelling, even at offices where the term “photonics” was not well understood, according to a team including Michelle Stock, chairwoman of the Michigan photonics cluster Mi-Light. She and her team pointed out the integral role of photonics in advanced manufacturing and the need to support photonics R&D in funding future National Network for Manufacturing Innovation projects. The team also illustrated connections with energy initiatives and health and medicine, pointing out the role of photonics in sustainable power generation as well as in effective diagnosis and therapy for high-quality, affordable medical care. Robert Lieberman, chairman of the SPIE Engineering, Science and Technology Policy Committee, also found the message well received, as evidenced by penetrating questions about the specific needs of the photonics community and a large number of requests for follow-up meetings.