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Staff Report: Whence the Technicians?

Photonics Spectra
Apr 2001
Photonics will need 6400 new technicians each year between now and 2005. Where will they come from?

Agustin Navarra, Darrell Hull, Arthur Guenther and Leno S. Pedrotti

Last June, the Coalition for Photonics and Optics sent a sobering shot across the bow of the US optics industry. Representatives from academe, photonics companies and optics-related associations told the gathering on Capitol Hill that "science and engineering college degrees were on the decrease" and that fierce competition existed on the national scene for the "relatively small pool of qualified optics technicians and engineers." Participants left the meeting with a clear understanding of the challenge ahead.

Cord, a Waco, Texas-based nonprofit educational development organization, took on the challenge of quantifying the magnitude of the current and future shortage of photonics technicians by asking two questions:
  • How many technicians serve the photonics industry today?
  • How many technicians will photonics need each year through 2005?
The answers reflected a common perception that there is a serious impending shortage of qualified technicians...

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