WACO, Texas, Aug. 13, 2013 — The National Center for Optics and Photonics Education (OP-TEC) has been awarded a $3.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to increase the supply of well-educated photonics technicians by building and strengthening photonics education in US two-year colleges.
Photonics technicians move laser research into applications in manufacturing, medicine, and telecommunications. Courtesy Texas State Technical College.
Provided through NSF’s Advanced Technological Education program, the grant will allow for the continued operation of the OP-TEC National Center of Excellence through 2016. The center assists more than 30 two-year colleges throughout the US in improving the quality and increasing the enrollment of their Photonics Technician Education AAS programs. OP-TEC is also assisting over 40 more colleges to start new programs (See: Michigan Powers Up Photonics Program
Approximately 30 US colleges offer photonics instruction, according to a recent study commissioned by OP-TEC; they graduate an estimated 250 to 300 technicians annually. But that only meets about one-third of the industry’s projected annual need through 2017.
OP-TEC is a national consortium of two-year colleges, high schools, universities, national laboratories, industry partners and professional societies who have joined forces to create a secondary-to-postsecondary pipeline of highly qualified students in the optics and photonics industry. OP-TEC also works to empower community and technical colleges to meet the need for technicians in optics and photonics.
For more information, visit: www.op-tec.org