Honoring Advanced Manufacturing at the 2012 State of the Union

[Editor's Note: Dr. Hiroyuki Fujita is Founder, President, and CEO of Quality Electrodynamics in Cleveland, Ohio, and last Tuesday he was a guest in the First Lady's box at the 2012 State of the Union.]

Tuesday night, I was one of the First Lady’s guests for the State of the Union address, an immense honor and an experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life. Beyond the sheer magnitude of simply being there, the event was inspiring as President Obama focused significantly on issues of importance to me:  advanced manufacturing competitiveness, small business growth, developing an educated workforce at all levels and supporting immigration policies that retain people like me in the United States after they graduate with science and technology degrees.

After I attended Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan, I came to the United States in 1988 to pursue my undergraduate degree in mathematics and physics at Monmouth College in Illinois.  I went on to pursue my PhD in physics at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, receiving my doctorate degree in 1998.  

In 2006, I started my first company, Quality Electrodynamics (QED), to develop advanced electronics products for the healthcare equipment industry. We started in a very small space with a handful of people. Our first products were RF antennas made for MRI systems, a very powerful diagnostic imaging tool, manufactured by two of the world’s leading medical imaging equipment companies. QED has doubled in employment and revenue growth every 18 months since 2006 -- and we expect this growth trajectory to continue.  

In 2010, I started a second company, eQED, focusing on opportunities in the renewable energy sector.  Our first product is a state-of-the-art solar microinverter, setting new industry benchmarks for performance, cost and convenience by employing the latest in semiconductor and electrical interconnect technologies.   We intend to begin shipping this product this year.  

When I walk into our companies each day, I see a combination of experienced scientists, engineers early in their careers, and a variety of technicians, many of whom came to us after being downsized from corporate consolidations in other industries.  We place a very high value on the role that community colleges play in training technicians with the concrete skills we need to build our products.

Like any emerging company, we face constant tradeoffs between creating products and investing in research and development (R&D). The R&D efforts of QED have been accelerated with support from the National Institutes of Health and the State of Ohio’s Third Frontier program, an initiative developed to encourage early stage technology development.  Offsetting R&D costs with support from federal and state sources is a significant boost to our ability to advance our product technology and increase our competitiveness in the world market.  These programs have also enabled us to establish and maintain a state-of-the-art facility where scientists and engineers from our Fortune 500 customers come to co-develop products. 

We seek to be the world’s leading advanced research, development and manufacturing organization, specializing in technologies that have a positive impact on the quality of human life.   And we will continue to do this based in Cleveland, Ohio.

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