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MIT's AIM Photonics Academy Looks To Expand

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Plan to grow and enhance integrated photonics education and training.

MIT’s AIM Photonics Academy is looking at the possibility for a large investment to create a Lab for Education and Application Prototypes (LEAP) in integrated photonics.

The Academy is the education and workforce development arm of the AIM Photonics Institute, one of 14 Manufacturing USA institutes launched as part of a federal initiative to revitalise American manufacturing.

The federal government has committed $110 million to the AIM Photonics Institute over five years. At the same time, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will spend $100 million on projects related to colleges and industry within the state, including $28 million to help launch AIM Photonics projects such as LEAP facilities.

MIT received funding for the first LEAP facility, with a focus on packaging. A second LEAP site in its final stages of planning will be located at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and will also serve nearby Quinsigamond Community College. AIM Photonics Academy and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are also in discussions to build four more LEAP Labs, including one at Stonehill College, which would serve the southeastern corner of the state.

Once up and running, these labs will form a training network that helps Massachusetts become a major hub for photonics technology.

“Any time you add high-tech education to an area, you are going to incubate high-tech companies," noted John Lescinskas of Brockton Electro-Optics. “You’re planting a seed. It can lead to a tree, or even a forest."

Because integrated photonics “is a technology that originated in Massachusetts, at MIT," said Lionel Kimerling, AIM Photonics Academy executive director and professor in the MIT Department of Materials Science and Engineering, the state is an optimal location for this initiative to take place.

“With the help of the state, Massachusetts can be the Silicon Valley for the growth of ultra-high performance communications systems using integrated photonics," Kimerling said.


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