As I write this column, the Beijing Olympic Games are under way, capturing the attention of millions of viewers around the globe. The opening ceremony, which made such effective use of lasers and illumination in its dazzling displays, served as a reminder of the pervasive role of optics technology in every aspect of today’s society, something that I touched upon in last month’s column. The games also highlight the emergence of China as a center of economic development. China’s growing role and potential provide OSA with challenges and opportunities as a global society. We must continue to explore ways to encourage productive avenues for participation by our Chinese members and to expand outreach efforts to non-member colleagues in the Chinese optics and photonics community.
There are many positive trends to report. Chinese participation in OSA is growing, reflecting a measure of success in the Society’s ongoing commitment to enhancing our global presence. The rate of submissions to OSA journals from our Chinese colleagues is the highest of any world region. OSA has maintained a long-standing partnership with the Chinese Optical Society for the distribution of Chinese Optics Letters, and OSA Past President Joseph Eberly has recently been appointed as a member of the COL editorial board.
The number of OSA members in China has grown by 28 percent in the last year. There are now 10 OSA Student Chapters throughout China, and the number of Chinese student members has grown by nearly 40 percent in the last year. While these are encouraging signs, the actual numbers are still far below the potential. Participation on OSA committees by Chinese members remains low, no doubt reflecting the logistical issues related to attending committee meetings held abroad. This is an issue that is not limited to China and one that we must address.
At the end of this month I will have the opportunity to meet and network with Chinese colleagues when I travel to Shanghai as a plenary speaker at the 2008 Asia Optical Fiber Communication & Optoelectronic Exposition & Conference (AOE), to be held October 30-November 2. AOE includes optics and photonics science, engineering, technology solutions and innovations from leading companies, universities and research labs.
The China Information Industry Ministry expects the number of Internet broadband users to reach 200 million by 2010, with an annual rate of increase of eight percent and a popularization rate of 15 percent. Because traditional xDSL wideband can no longer meet the requirements of high-end broadband users, fiber to the home has become a significant part of local development strategies in many parts of China. An AOE/APOC (Asia-Pacific Optical Communications) Joint Symposium on Broadband Access will be held during the conference.
There is encouraging news to report from North America as well. This month’s issue includes an article on p. 20, titled “Optics in Mexico,” by Manuel Servin and Zacarias Malacara. We hope you enjoy this informative piece on the important work that is being done in this steadily emerging country.
— Rod C. Alferness