The American Center for Optics Manufacturing (AmeriCOM) has been selected for a five-year, $34 million grant from the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Office of Industrial Policy program to launch a nationwide public-private Defense Precision Optics Consortium partnership, which is also known as the Defense Precision Optics Workforce Development and Technology Ecosystem Project. The partnership will boost the domestic precision optics industry by identifying gaps in the precision optics defense industrial base and undertaking new R&D to solve the industry’s technical challenges, thereby securing the supply chain.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and U.S. Representative Joseph Morelle announced the selection on Tuesday, June 22, in a press release. The release contained the original letter from Schumer, Gillibrand, and Morelle to the DOD on behalf of AmeriCOM.
As part of the partnership and as precision optics manufacturers experience a critical workforce shortage, AmeriCOM aims to create a nationwide network to attract and train specialists for the industry, especially skilled optics technicians, the press release stated. The representatives revealed that even in a optics industry hub like Rochester, the region suffers a shortage of more than 550 precisions optics technicians, proving the dire need for the AmeriCOM project.
“The AmeriCOM partnership with the DOD means that in addition to securing the domestic supply chain, the region will play a direct hand in preparing upstate New Yorkers for good-paying, in-demand jobs that are vital to our national security,” Schumer said. He added that the funding will boost the domestic precision optics industry and revolutionize optics tech and manufacturing. “It is the first step to ensuring that all of New York and the entire nation has the workforce it needs to attract, build, and sustain a strong precision optics industry.”
In addition to its support of an optics workforce in the region, the funding additionally benefits national defense, which, Gillibrand said, is increasingly reliant on optics tech and specialized technicians.
“The precision optical systems that our Armed Forces depend upon in the air, on the water, and on the ground also permeate the average citizen’s daily lives in their cars, on their phones, in public safety, and in consumer products,” said Tom Battley, vice president of AmeriCOM. “One cannot overstate the importance of maintaining a strong competitive posture in this industry. That includes new manufacturing technologies as well as the highly skilled technicians to implement them. That’s the AmeriCOM mission.”
Original Source: Photonics Media