UCF lost out on a $110 million photonics grant, but that's not stopping the university from moving forward with a joint-use facility in Osceola to further its research in the field.

After UCF entered the third and final round of the competition, the grant, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, was awarded to the Rochester, New York, region.

"It's not as though we have a back up plan. Our plan is to very aggressively seek contracting grants for the university whenever those opportunities present themselves, said MJ Soileau, vice president for Research and Commercialization. "We are also continuing to work with various partners that were partners on the proposal we did for the integrated photonics."

If selected, UCF had planned to use the money to grow its leadership role in the photonics industry. The grant would have required the awarded to match the grant, according to the State Science & Technology Institute website, making the investment roughly $200 million.

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer called the grant " amazingly good news for Rochester."

“For Rochester to become the center of excellence in one of the most, if not the most, promising areas of job creation in the country could well be a game-changer," Schumer told the Democrat & Chronicle. "Not only are the jobs that are created by the center important, but it could bring many, many companies creating hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs to the area.’’

Despite the multimillion-dollar setback, UCF plans to move forward with the Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center, a 15,000-square-foot advanced manufacturing facility set to open in Osceola County in 2016.

The Osceola facility will serve as a research and development site, said university spokeswoman Christine Dellert, and be partly staffed by UCF faculty.

Where do we use photonics?

There are already everyday applications of photoncis, and many more in development. Here are ways you might use photonics on a day-to-day basis.

Your car: Sensors in a variety of uses, such as self-parking cars.

Your phone: Computer chips that will be faster and use less energy.

At work: Laser cutting tools for medical and industrial applications.

At home: Televisions with light-emitting diode (LED) screens. Heat-sensing devices in a home alarm.

What is photonics?

Photonics, a cousin of optics, involves generating and controlling light waves and photons, the particles that make up light. And the optics and photonics industry has pointed to numerous applications with big potential economic impact, such as using light as a medical diagnostic and even treatment tool to better computer vision for more process automation in manufacturing to nano-photonic materials replacing the liquid crystal display and light emitting diode displays that are ubiquitous on phones, tablets, televisions and desktops.

Photonics information from USA Today article by Brian Tumulty.


Bridgette Norris is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @blogginbridge email her at

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