many outstanding universities that educate students from around the world in the classroom and in research laboratories. Over the past several years, many institutions outside the United States have also invested heavily in excellent educational facilities. Because education is inextricably linked to innovation in optics and photonics, the committee underscores the importance to the nation of maintaining a strong U.S. educational infrastructure in optics and photonics. Although the present study does not focus on education, it does mention specific examples that might benefit from action, including the training of skilled technicians as well as ensuring that an adequate numbers of citizens can be hired by the defense industry. The committee concluded that improvements in technical education are needed to increase the quality of skilled blue-collar workers in optics and photonics.
Although many of the innovations in optics and photonics (i.e., the science and engineering of optical waves and photons) have occurred in the United States, U.S. leadership is far from secure. The committee has heard compelling arguments that, if the United States does not act with strategic vision, future scientific advances and economic benefits might be led by others.
It is the committee’s hope that this study will help policy makers and leaders decide on courses of action that can advance the future of optics and photonics; promote a greener, healthier, and more productive society; and ensure a leadership position for the United States in the face of increasing foreign competition.
In general, the committee’s recommendations call for improved management of U.S. public and private research and development resources, emphasizing the need for public policy that encourages adoption of a portfolio approach to investing in the wide and diverse opportunities now presented by optics and photonics.