U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, senior member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee, announced on May 29 the securing of $1 million from the fiscal year 2002 Defense Appropriations bill for the Center of Optical Technologies at Lehigh University.
"We very much appreciate Senator Specter's support for our center," said Gregory C. Farrington, Lehigh president. "Optical technologies will take the Internet revolution to the next level. The key to competing globally in optical technologies is having strong partnerships in which universities and industry collaborate on research and technology transfer in a seamless and efficient manner."
The federal grant complements a $1-million grant provided by the Department of Community and Economic Development’s Pennsylvania Technology Investment Authority (PTIA) to the Lehigh center. Lehigh also is investing in optical technologies as part of its $75-million initiative announced last October to enhance the university’s academic excellence.
The university is hard at work laying the groundwork for the center, a multi-institutional, industry-led enterprise that academic, government and industry officials believe will strengthen the economic trajectory of the region and the Commonwealth.
The Lehigh center's work will have applications for the Army, Navy and Air Force, including development of new materials, packaging and automated manufacturing.
Center partners will include industry leaders Agere, Corning, Sycamore Networks and Air Products, as well as smaller start-up companies in the region, including Agilent Technologies, Agility Communications, Aloca-Fujikura Ltd., Brashear LP, CENiX Inc., Circadiant Systems, Inc., IQE Inc., Multilink Technology Corp., Optical CrossLinks, Opticalis Inc., Optium, OptronX, Synergistech, Inc., T-Networks, Tycom Ltd. and Wavefront Research, Inc.
The Lehigh center will collaborate with the Pennsylvania State University and the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania on research and technology transfer. The groups will focus on advancing critical technologies and research, as well as attracting and retaining student and professional talent in the Commonwealth.
Developing degree and non-degree education programs to feed graduates to an industry that has a strong need for employees with the appropriate skills at all levels is also an important aspect of the center. Academic programs offered at Lehigh in conjunction with the creation of the Center for Optical Technologies will include in optical communications, optics, photonics, and optoelectronics, as well as business programs to assist those starting their own businesses or moving into managerial roles. Northampton Community College and Lehigh Carbon Community College will develop two-year associate degree programs for production and technical employees.