The future of technology is arriving at Bridgewater State University.
With help from a $1.4 million state grant, BSU is developing new programming and labs related to integrated photonics, a field that uses light to revolutionize industries such as telecommunications, precision measurements, biomedical sensing and imaging, and autonomous vehicles.
“You’re going to do a lot of great training and workforce development around (these industries) and beyond,” Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said in announcing the funding, which is part of a larger grant shared by BSU and Stonehill College. “It’s really incredible work. Thank you for taking it on.”
The money comes from the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative, which supports development of advanced manufacturing technologies. The funding helps the schools start an integrated photonics hub for students training to be technicians and engineers. The hub, known as a Lab for Education and Application Prototypes, or LEAP, will enable students to earn a certificate set to launch next year.
Also next year, Bridgewater plans to begin a new major in photonics and optical engineering to build on an existing minor and concentration within the physics major.
“These programs will create opportunities for our students to gain skills and ultimately secure employment in a rapidly growing field,” said BSU President Frederick W. Clark Jr., ’83.
Photonics has the potential to revolutionize technology the way electronics have. And, partnerships between academia, industry and government such as this one are instrumental in doing so.
“It really takes great leadership and vison and a team of people to make that become a reality, and you’ve got a fantastic team here at Bridgewater State as well as with the collaboration evident today with Stonehill College,” Polito said.
Photonics education, she said, provides a pipeline of talent industry needs and helps keep Massachusetts at the forefront of innovation and economic development.
BSU alumni praise the forward-thinking approach of their alma mater in pursuing photonics and optical engineering programs.
“It’s definitely going to provide a lot of opportunities for students to find a career path that is sustainable and provides job satisfaction and job security,” said Alexander Medeiros, ’16, who studied physics at BSU and works for MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory. “I see photonics as being an industry much like the consumer electronics industry. Technology is going to be developed over the next couple decades that is going to be central in everyday life.”
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