OpTeC Stars in Successful Montana Research Initiative Tour

OpTeC presentation area during MREDI tour on September 27th

OpTeC presentation area during MREDI tour on September 27th

On September 27th and 28th the Montana university system hosted a review of the Montana Research & Economic Development Initiative (MREDI) that began in 2015.  Research programs under MSU’s Optical Technology Center (OpTeC) program played a starring role in the tour, which was attended by legislators, regents, and business leaders.

Following the tour OpTeC’s Director, Dr. Joe Shaw, reported that “I repeatedly heard comments about how impressed the visitors were with our Optics and Photonics presentation. The things most often cited as things the legislators, regents, and business leaders were most impressed with included the following:

  • the presence of the companies;
  • the clear commercial potential of our research;
  • the partnership between the Engineering and Agriculture colleges;
  • the layout and design of our presentation (the room, the graphics-rich posters, the eyes- and hands-on demos)"

Later in the tour program one of the University of Montana researchers commented that OpTeC was “clearly the gold standard” of MREDI projects.

Congratulations to Joe Shaw and all of the faculty, students, and MPIA member companies who contributed to the recent MREDI tour and ongoing research programs.

About the MREDI Program

Recently the Montana university system received an appropriation of $15M in state funds from the 2015 Montana Legislature to serve as seed money to leverage university-based research into strategic advancements for Montana’s economy.  The fundamental purpose of this research initiative is to: (1) solve Montana problems with Montana solutions; (2) create good Montana private-sector jobs, and/or; (3) grow emerging and important research sectors that contribute to the diversity of Montana’s economy.

To learn more about the Montana university system research initiative, click here to visit an overview webpage.

To learn more about the Optics & Photonics program, click here.

To access the September 2016 Research Tour booklet, including a concise summary of all programs, click here.

2016 Annual OpTeC Conference Scheduled for Tuesday, October 4th

Mark Your Calendar

This year's OpTeC conference will be held on Tuesday, October 4th and will provide an exciting combination of talks and posters, as well as an afternoon session devoted to commercialization of optical technology. The meeting will be attended by undergraduate and graduate students, research staff, faculty, and local company leaders and staff, in addition to leaders from the city, county, and state economic development offices. A highlight of the meeting will be the always-popular evening poster session with catered hors d'oeuvres.

The conference will start at 8:00 am on the 4th and will be held in the MSU Student Union Building ballrooms B and C.  Look for the conference agenda and other information which will be posted on the OpTeC website.

Fall MPIA Networking Social to be Held in Conjunction with the OpTeC Conference

This year the MPIA is holding its fall networking social in conjunction with annual OpTeC conference.  Whether or not you attend the daytime sessions of the conference, please plan to join your industry colleagues and friends for an evening of casual networking starting at 5:00 pm on Tuesday, October 4th in the MSU Student Union Building ballrooms B and C.  Admission is free at 5:00 pm for MPIA members.

RESOURCES AND INCENTIVES AVAILABLE TO HELP YOU REDUCE YOUR ENERGY COSTS

The City of Bozeman is ready to help local businesses reduce their energy bills and improve their cash flow with the Bozeman Energy Project. This is a chance for businesses to save money and reduce their energy use while helping the community and the environment.

  • Any business in the greater Bozeman area with a commercial meter and the commitment to implement energy-efficiency projects is eligible to become a member of the Bozeman Energy Project.
  • Businesses that join will benefit from financial and resource savings, exposure through program website, marketing and outreach, workshops on energy efficiency and conservation technologies and strategies, and a peer-support network.
  • Businesses in the City limits may be eligible for a cash incentive of up to $2,500 to help cover the cost of efficiency improvement projects.

To see short but interesting videos describing the Bozeman Energy Project and two local companies that have already benefitted from the program visit the Bozeman Energy Project webpage.

Second Annual Graduate Student Research Rendezvous to Take Place at MSU on September 15th

The second annual Graduate Student Research Rendezvous will take place at MSU-Bozeman on Thursday, September 15th from 1:00 to 3:00 pm in the SUB Ballroom A. The public is invited to attend this poster session and competition which showcases the work of MSU graduate students. 

Participants will have the opportunity to present a new or existing poster, receive feedback from a panel of judges, and compete for prizes. Last year 43 graduate students participated in this event.

If you are interested in joining the panel of judges to provide an industry perspective, or if you would like more information about the event please contact Ann Vinciguerra at (406) 994-5729, ann.vinciguerra@montana.edu.

Gallatin College MSU to offer new associate’s degree in photonics, receives nearly $200,000 National Science Foundation grant

Laser technician David Ferguson performs final testing on a laser system at Quantum Composers in Bozeman. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.

Laser technician David Ferguson performs final testing on a laser system at Quantum Composers in Bozeman. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.

The Gallatin Valley is home to approximately 30 photonics and optics companies but skilled photonics technicians are needed to grow the industry. Local training hasn’t been available to prepare individuals to fill these positions, but that will soon change, thanks to a new Gallatin College Montana State University program.

The two-year program will prepare graduates to work as technicians in laser optics and photonics companies. It will lead to an associate’s degree in photonics and laser technology.

Read the full article

5 Ways to Attract and Keep the Best Talent in Montana

By Christina Henderson
Montana High Tech Business Alliance

Recruiting skilled workers is the #1 barrier to growth for Montana high-tech and manufacturing companies. At the Montana High Tech Business Alliance CEO Roundtable hosted by Yellowstone Bank in Billings, leaders emphasized the role of company culture in finding good people and keeping turnover low. Montana CEOs shared many best practices for tackling workforce challenges. 

Based on their experience, here are five tips for employers in Montana. Photo by Thomas Kurdy, Ndigena.

1. Invest in personal development
2. Help people find meaning in their work
3. Foster transparency
4. Get creative about recruiting
5. Manage your company’s reputation as a great place to work

Read the full article.

Gallatin College Seeks Program Director for the New Photonics and Laser Technology Program

The rapid growth of Montana’s photonics industry continues to create employment opportunities at a wide range of skill levels.  At the request of the MPIA, Gallatin College recently responded to this need by initiating a Photonics and Laser Technology Technician program.  The program will offer an Associate of Applied Science degree and will prepare students for a career as a photonics (laser/electro‐optics) technician.

The new Photonics and Laser Technology program, which will start this fall, is currently seeking a Director to lead the program.

According to Stephanie Gray, Program Development Manager for Gallatin College, "This is regularly a 9 month position (late August – early May). For this startup phase we will be compensating for additional salary because we will  need person to work some hours this summer.  Additional salary gains can be garnered by having higher level degrees, years in industry and teaching/training experience.”

For more information about this job opportunity contact Stephanie directly (Desk: 406.994.5256, Cell: 406.220.7660) or click on the following link:

https://jobs.montana.edu/postings/4640

Photonics West 2016

The week of February 13 - 18 saw one of the most successful ever Photonics West technical conference and trade exhibitions.  New this year was a Montana cluster of photonics companies and support organizations.  The cluster had an excellent location, very near the entrance to one of the main halls.

The following companies participated in the Montana Cluster.

Bridger Photonics
FLIR/Scientific Materials
Lattice Materials
Montana Photonics Industry Alliance
   OpTeC
   Revibro
Quantum Composers
Montana Governor’s Office of Economic Development
Wavelength Electronics

In addition, the following Montana photonics companies exhibited at Photonics West but maintained separate booths.

ADVR
Altos Photonics
Newport/ILX Lightwave
Quantel USA
Montana Instruments

Also new this year was a separate MPIA booth.  This booth was paid for by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and becomes the property of the MPIA for use at future trade shows.  The MPIA booth was used to provide table space and banners for OpTec and Revebro Optics at reduced cost.  Thanks again to Lisa Mueller of Wavelength Electronics for her work on making arrangements for the cluster as well as designing and procuring the MPIA booth.

Finally, a Montana Reception was again sponsored this year by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.  The reception was held on Wednesday evening starting at 5pm with about 90 people attending.  This was about twice the turnout compared to the prior two years.  

Special thanks to all of the participants in the Montana Cluster, Lisa Mueller for her creative and organizational work, Rufus Cone for the photography and to John Rogers and the Montana Governors' Office of Economic Development for their ongoing support of the MPIA.