Giving to CREOL CREOL, The College of Optics & Photonics

Florida Photonics Center of Excellence

The FPCE was established with a $10 million grant from the State of Florida to create a new center of excellence within The College of Optics and Photonics at the University of Central Florida. The program began in July, 2003 with three primary goals:

  • Advance excellence in research and graduate education chosen to serve existing and emerging industry clusters in the state (photonics, optics, lasers)
  • Leverage state resources via partnerships with industry and government
  • Work in partnership with local, state and regional economic development organizations to attract, retain and grow knowledge-based, wealth producing industry to Florida.

The focus of the FPCE research and education work is on the technologies of nanophotonics, biophotonics, advanced imaging and 3D displays, and ultra-high bandwidth communications, all of which have forecasts of rapid market growth. The $10M state grant is being used for three purposes:

  1. to develop infrastructure ($6M for new faculty, new facilities, new equipment)
  2. to fund competitive R&D Partnership Projects at Florida universities in partnership with Florida industry ($3.1M)
  3. to pursue commercialization and outreach ($0.9M) with the help of the FPCE Industrial Advisory Board, the UCF Technology Incubator, and the Florida Photonics Cluster.

The Photonics Center adds an important new dimension to UCF's internationally renowned The College of Optics & Photonics. "This new center provides essential resources needed to expand our photonics efforts into the growing areas of nanophotonics, biophotonics, advanced imaging and 3D displays, and ultra-high bandwidth communications," says Dr. Eric Van Stryland, Dean of CREOL & FPCE, The College of Optics & Photonics.

All of the FPCE programs are still underway as of April 2006. All financial and schedule milestones have been met to date. Progress to date includes the following:

  • Support of 5 new start-up companies
  • Establishment of 3 endowments, 2 for chair faculty positions and one for support of FPCE faculty work ($3M)
  • Hiring of one senior chaired faculty member and 4 junior faculty members
  • Construction start of a 21,000 ft2 lab/office building addition, supported in part by a $1.5M grant from the US Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, and a $750K grant from the Florida High Tech Corridor Council. It includes space for an extension of the UCF Incubator.
  • Addition of a unique nanophotonics fabrication facility in The College of Optics and Photonics, which is designed and operated as a user-facility available to industry
  • Significant technical and product development results from ongoing Partnership Projects with industry. $3.1M from FPCE has been used to fund 24 projects at 5 universities and involving 20 company partners who have contributed $5.3M, several of which will enable new commercial products, and leadership of a photonics industry cluster activities.

Economic Impact

There have been significant industry spinouts from the technology areas covered by the FPCE. Five companies, FemtOptics, Optigrate, CoSci Technologies, Light Processing Technologies, and Raydiance have been started, with Raydiance being the most mature. Raydiance Inc., in a very short time period of time, has developed into a 38+ employee company with an average salary of ~$62K and is expanding. To date, Raydiance has received over $15M in funding, including $10M in venture capital in the third quarter of 2004, which was the largest investment in North America that quarter.

The financial return to date on the $10M state grant totals $30,168,876, made up of the following:

  • Revenue from license agreements: $181,250
  • Private Awards and Matching Funds: $8,952,539
  • Federal Awards: $15,970,187
  • UCF (other state) Awards: $5,062,900

Other measures:

  • Patents filed: 40
  • Patents issued: 14
  • Personnel additions at university or partner company: 31

UCF Personnel additions related to FPCE

We have to date hired five new faculty members in the FPCE technology area of nanophotonics. The latest addition is Dr. Dennis Deppe, formerly at the University of Texas, Austin, as a Chaired Professor in Nanophotonics. We have an ongoing search for a Chaired Professorship in Biophotonics. Dr. James E. Pearson, was hired as Director, Research & Administration to serve as a liaison to Florida photonics industry, and to help with FPCE and CREOL management.

Integration of the mission of the FPCE with all levels of the K-20 education system

  • A new GK-12 program funded by NSF was obtained with $500K of funding for three years to provide fellowships to graduate students to work with K-12 teachers to help them improve their skills for teaching science and math.
  • FPCE faculty members are working with students and teachers at all levels of the education system. High school and middle school students continue to benefit from FPCE faculty mentoring of projects. We have a permanent agreement with the local University High School GIFT Magnet program to supervise senior student projects. Students from other schools are also being supervised in projects.
  • We have graduate and undergraduate optics courses taught by FPCE faculty available statewide via the FEEDS streaming-internet system. We used FPCE funds to upgrade our classroom to enable this.
  • Discussions between FPCE and the UCF Electrical Engineering Department are underway to enhance the Photonics tracks in graduate EE programs.
  • FPCE facilities are being used this semester to provide laboratory components to Photonics Technology students, as part of the Engineering Technology 2+2 program in Photonics.
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