A state grant totaling approximately $2.5 million from the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2; Westborough, MA) will support the development of a new advanced manufacturing center at Convergent Photonics (Chicopee, MA). Convergent is partnering with Western New England University (WNE; Springfield, MA) on a Lab for Education and Application Prototyping (LEAP), which will focus on product development, training, and research in the field of integrated photonics, and will be the fourth lab of its kind in the state.
The project teams highlighted the future installation of a high-power semiconductor laser lab that will support the development of innovative technologies, and a state-of-the-art education and training facility for students, teachers, and faculty from WNE, Springfield Technical Community College (STCC; also in Springfield), and other Massachusetts institutions seeking training in optics and photonics technology.
The new LEAP will help Convergent develop next-generation high-power diode lasers in medical systems and fiber lasers used as optical power supplies in datacenters that are the backbone for telecommunications, surgical, and industrial applications. The facility will provide real-world training opportunities for students and foster the development of a new generation of engineers in integrated photonics, which is one of the most important key enabling technologies.
The state has committed more than $100 million in funding to the M2I2 effort, which allows the Commonwealth to co-invest in projects supported by the national Manufacturing USA initiative, helping promote innovation and job growth across the state. The new award brings the total amount invested to $60.7 million, boosting advanced manufacturing projects throughout Massachusetts, supporting critical R&D infrastructure, and workforce training programs.
Ten percent of the Commonwealth’s total economic output is tied to manufacturing, and Massachusetts companies exported $26 billion in manufactured goods in 2016 alone. Roughly 250,000 employees work in the Commonwealth’s manufacturing sector, comprising 7.8% of the total workforce in the state.