SPIE launches $2.5m educational-funding initiative

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SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, has announced a $2.5 million, five-year, educational-funding initiative. The SPIE Endowment Matching Programme will enhance educational capacity in optics and photonics by supporting endowment funding at qualified institutions.

Adding to the more than $4 million that SPIE provides annually to community support - including scholarships, travel grants, and student programmes - the programme will support education and the future of the industry by contributing up to $500,000 per award to colleges and universities offering optics- and photonics-related degrees. 

The programme's first grant of $500,000 will go to the University of Arizona, and will be matched by a factor of three with funds donated by the university's James C Wyant College of Optical Sciences. This will establish a $2-million-endowed SPIE Chair in Optical Sciences at the university.

SPIE encourages qualified institutions to establish future endowments with the society, structuring funds to ensure perpetual or long-term availability for teaching and research.

'At SPIE we partner with educators and universities to advance light-based research, technology, and applications for the betterment of the human condition,' said SPIE CEO Kent Rochford. 'As a not-for-profit educational charity, SPIE is uniquely positioned to devote resources that create a larger pipeline of scientists and engineers knowledgeable about optics. In partnership with the James C Wyant College of Optical Sciences, SPIE is helping to create the future.'

'The leadership and commitment of SPIE are helping to scale-up the college with this new endowed faculty position, leading to more teaching, more research, and more students, enabling us to provide more expertise to the world,' added Thomas Koch, dean of the James C Wyant College of Optical Sciences. 'SPIE has long been a vigorous supporter of the college, but now we can generate even more talent to fuel innovations in robotics and autonomy, AR/VR, communications, biomedicine, astronomy, and all the other exciting fields enabled by optics and photonics. This is a critical and welcome investment in our faculty and students, and Jim Wyant's generosity and vision transforms the SPIE $500,000 contribution into a $2 million endowment.'