SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing brings optics and photonics industry and US Government together for DC-area conference and exhibition

The three-day industry program will focus on funding opportunities, technology needs, and best ways to engage with government agencies for enhanced innovation and development in optics and photonics
06 March 2024
Doug Droege, senior director of IR&D and technology for the L3Harris Integrated Mission Systems Segment, speaking at SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing in 2023.

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA — A program focused on building industry and government partnerships to advance technological and engineering innovations in optics and photonics is set to be a highlight of SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing. The full conference runs 21-25 April in National Harbor, Maryland. The industry-and-government-focused program, featuring multiple high-profile speakers as well as several panel discussions, will run 23-25 April, as part of the 250-plus company exhibition.

The three-day program leverages an increasingly photonics-aware US Government and will highlight specific ways that the optics and photonics industry and the government can partner productively in order to enhance technological advancements in many critical and emerging application areas. Speakers and panelists will address topics such as funding opportunities; optimal ways to access government agencies’ support; current technological and engineering requirements; and supporting and building an innovative and technologically skilled workforce.

Keynote speakers include:

  • Director of the Joint Directed Energy Transition Office Mark F. Spencer on an overview of his office which funds basic research, applied research, and advanced technology development in optics and photonics with academic, industry, and government partners.
  • The National Science Foundation’s Program Director of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Mara Schindelholz on “Accelerating Research to Impact.”
  • ARPA-E’s Associate Director of Technology and Program Director Jenifer Shafer on “Opportunities for Innovative Sensing and Imaging Technologies at ARPA-E.”
  • NASA Industry Engagement Lead and Senior Technical Advisor Alexandra Hale on “Embracing the Aerospace Community Through Strategic Engagement.”

Panel discussion topics will cover “Commercial Technology Transfer/Integration to Government,” “Directed Energy: Industrial Base Readiness to Support Directed Energy Programs of Record,” and “Keeping National Security AI Trustworthy.” Featured panelists and speakers include Exciting Technology’s Paul McManamon; NDIA Emerging Technologies Institute’s Wilson Miles; the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s Robert B. Meltzer; Matthew Turek, of DARPA’s Information Innovation Office; Office of Army Prize Competitions and Army Applied SBIR Program’s Matthew Willis; the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering’s Frank E. Peterkin; L3Harris Technologies’ Teresa Pace; Element Aero’s Sandra Biedron; and Leonardo’s Robert Walker.

“Recent funding and policy decisions have shown that the US Government is becoming acutely aware of the critical and enabling qualities of optics and photonics technologies,” says SPIE Director of Science and Technology Bob Hainsey. “With SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing located so close to DC, it’s an opportunity to bring the industry and key stakeholders together to ensure that both the optics and photonics industry and the US Government are positioned to take advantage of each other’s strengths and ongoing programs. This year’s industry program will play a key role in providing a venue for these discussions to take place.”

Access to the exhibition and industry program is free, though registration is required. More information — including registration — can be found on the SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing website.

About SPIE

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, brings engineers, scientists, students, and business professionals together to advance light-based science and technology. The Society, founded in 1955, connects and engages with our global constituency through industry-leading conferences and exhibitions; publications of conference proceedings, books, and journals in the SPIE Digital Library; and career-building opportunities. Over the past five years, SPIE has contributed more than $24 million to the international optics community through our advocacy and support, including scholarships, educational resources, travel grants, endowed gifts, and public-policy development. www.spie.org.


Daneet Steffens
Public Relations Manager
+1 360 685 5478


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