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All for one, one for all

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Karen A. Newman

I have attended a large number of trade shows in several different industries over the years and, while I know generally what to expect, I am often pleasantly surprised by what I find. I never get tired of seeing an industry in action in what could be described as a mash-up of sales call, summer school and family reunion, carried out in the spirit of “all for one and one for all.”

That theme was felt throughout the scheduled events at SPIE’s Photonics West, held at the end of January, including the professional development workshop presented by Dr. Andrew Hargadon, a professor at the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of California, Davis. He told an audience of graduate students and others at a seminar titled “Tapping the Networks of Innovation” that, in innovation, the idea is only the beginning; innovation is not as much about the idea as it is about the network of people you build to help you take your good ideas to market.

At a “Women in Optics” event held on Monday shortly before the Photonics West opening reception, Dr. Anita Mahadevan-Jansen shared her experience in a talk called “Research, Teaching and Family: The Juggling Act.” She said that the general thinking in the academic and research communities is that women have to wait to have their families while they build their careers. But, she said, she took a different course to success and urged the young women in the room to do what makes them happy. She said the only way she knows to juggle everything is by living it and experiencing it.

Experiencing the Prism Awards, a production of SPIE and Photonics Media, for the first time, I sensed genuine camaraderie and support among and for all the nominated companies. The award presenters generously shared a wealth of knowledge about the industry and the nominees, and the winners were selfless in sharing the glory of the moment with team members who helped bring about the innovations and get them to market.

The show floor hummed with activity, education sessions were well-attended, and I enjoyed speaking with and learning from so many of you. In the words of Alexandre Dumas’ d’Artagnan: “I may not wear the tunic, but I believe I have the heart of a musketeer.” I look forward to observing this dynamic industry, participating whenever possible and applauding your efforts – and your results – at every opportunity.

Many thanks to all who stopped by the Photonics Media booth to let us know how we’re doing. Check out the rest of Photonics Media’s coverage of Photonics West on our website,, and stay tuned for feature articles that will share even more of what we heard, saw and learned at Photonics West.

Photonics Spectra
Feb 2011
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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