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NSF Grant Supports Baker College Photonics Education

Photonics Spectra
Nov 2017
FLINT TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Baker College has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant of $512,000 to advance photonics and laser education.

The Baker College photonics and laser technology associate program prepares students for careers as photonics technicians who build, test, modify, install, operate, calibrate, maintain and repair laser and electro-optic devices and systems.
The Baker College photonics and laser technology associate program prepares students for careers as photonics technicians who build, test, modify, install, operate, calibrate, maintain and repair laser and electro-optic devices and systems. Courtesy of Baker College.

The goal of the three-year grant is to educate more students to become qualified photonics, laser and fiber optics technicians to meet industry need in southeast Michigan and the country as a whole. The NSF grant supports development of curricula for educational institutions, expands Baker College’s photonics laboratory at the Flint Township campus, establishes laboratories at Baker College campuses in Auburn Hills and Jackson, and enables multiple information sharing events that involve educators, manufacturers and employers.

“We are working to get photonics — the science and technology of light — into the mainstream of science and technical education at all levels,” said Anca Sala , dean of the Baker College’s College of Engineering. “This will draw more young people into the field early on. The Baker College photonics and laser technology associate program allows students to enter the rapidly growing and well-paid field of photonics with low education expenses.”

New course modules will focus on photonics applications in emerging areas such as autonomous driving, integrated photonics and high-power lasers in manufacturing. Photonics curriculum will be shared with other higher education institutions, NSF Advanced Technological Education Centers and elementary and secondary educators. The grant aims to introduce photonics as a field of study in Michigan Career and Technical Education programs, develop pathways from high school to two- and four-year degree programs and showcase available career opportunities.

“When those who are considering careers realize photonics are in numerous everyday technologies like cellular networks, flat-screen TVs and fiber optic communications, I believe interest in these degrees will increase,” Sala said.

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