Michael Cumbo, Sandia Electro-Optics Corp.Michael Cumbo, Sandia Electro-Optics Corp.

Technology developed by New Mexico’s research institutions is finding its way out of the closed doors of academic and government-funded laboratories, and impacting the lives of millions nation-wide thanks to Michael Cumbo and the company he founded, Sandia Electro-Optics Corporation (SE-OC). The successful Albuquerque company, founded in January 2013, has gained significant economic value, received media attention, and raised $300,000 in funding for its first spin-off, Eta Diagnostics, a cancer diagnostic process. Yet, at the heart of SE-OC is innovation in the field of electro-optics or the interaction of electric fields, light, and matter. 

SE-OC utilizes electro-optics to commercialize new technology in telecommunications and life science instruments. There are many examples of electro-optics that seem comprehensible only to characters such as those on “The Big Bang Theory.” However, many commercial products use electro-optics. For example, electro-optic technology is used in televisions, cinema projectors, Internet cables, and smart phone cameras. “It’s an enabling technology that makes it feasible to bring life-saving, lifestyle-improving and entertaining functionality to the market,” said Dr. Cumbo in describing the importance of electro-optics. More specifically, the technology Eta Diagnostics is currently commercializing to speed up the process of analyzing blood samples for cancer diagnosis utilizes high throughput electro-optics and acousto-fluidics.

se oc logoIn addition to having impressive business accomplishments, Dr. Cumbo shows his passion for science and education by encouraging young people to pursue careers in those fields, and provides them with the opportunity to explore their interests at a young age. SE-OC collaborates with Engineering for Kids (EFK), which is a global franchise business that provides students ages 4 to 14 with hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) educational programs that they may not receive in their regular day schools. Dr. Cumbo hopes that as a result of these EFK programs, students will not feel intimidated by the STEM subjects, and will be able to approach them with confidence. “I never want to hear a student say, ‘I hate math,’ because it is the international language of science and engineering,” he said. Instead, he hopes that through the program, students will not only want to pursue science and engineering careers, but also have early access to very enjoyable and practical STEM lab projects, as many students are not exposed to such lab work until High School.

An unexpected surprise offered by SE-OC is the fun and unique artistic display of the technology used by the company. A section of SE-OC’s building, which was originally an automobile showroom, was not required for the company’s startup operations. The space was repurposed as a gallery after Joyce Cumbo, Michael Cumbo’s wife, saw the artistic potential and intrinsic beauty in the company’s technology and manufacturing processes. Today, the showroom, known as the Right Brain Gallery, is perhaps the only place in Albuquerque that showcases technology and artwork as one. All of the art must contain materials or methods that are used by SE-OC, such as photography, precision metalworking, fiber optics, and solar technology. The result is quite creative and unique; the Cumbos encourage everyone to visit the gallery and take a look at this elegant art in a bright and architecturally interesting setting.

The passion for engineering and electro-optics that drives Sandia Electro-Optics Corporation is showcased in its art gallery, child educational programs, and various telecommunication and life science technology projects. It is contemporary and enlightening (no pun intended) in the science and engineering community, providing the possibility of many impressive accomplishments in the company’s future. Albuquerque residents wanting to enroll in Engineering for Kids, or become involved with the company, even if that simply means taking a trip to Right Brain Gallery, can contact SE-OC at www.SE-OC.com or stop by at 3100 Menaul Blvd. NE in Albuquerque. The bottom line is, look for Sandia Electro-Optics Corporation in headlines, because that’s where it’s headed. 

By Elizabeth Cox

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