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AmeriCOM Adds Keene State College to Workforce Development Network

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KEENE, N.H., May 30, 2024 — The American Center for Optics Manufacturing (AmeriCOM) has partnered with New Hampshire's Keene State College, marking the workforce training initiative's first partnership with a postsecondary four-year institution and fifth partnership with an institution of higher learning. The Keene State collaboration aims to increase capacity for work-ready technicians in optics manufacturing, as well as to expand opportunities for Keene State students, faculty, and regional employers in precision manufacturing.

As an initiative of the U.S. Department of Defense, AmeriCOM aims to promote workforce training at the technician level and assess and address critical gaps in defense systems, the optics supply chain, and future industry needs. AmeriCOM's core initiative is the Defense Precision Optics Workforce Development and Technology Ecosystem Project which brings together partners in industry, education, nonprofit, and government sectors to expand workforce training programs, undertake research, expand the precision optics manufacturing base, and secure the national precision optics supply chain. 

Keene State graduate Nathan Priebe earned a degree in Sustainable Product Design & Innovation and works full-time at Precitech AMETEK in Keene in manufacturing engineering. Courtesy of Keene State College.


Keene State graduate Nathan Priebe earned a degree in Sustainable Product Design and Innovation and works full-time at Precitech AMETEK in Keene, N.H. in manufacturing engineering. Courtesy of Keene State College.
AmeriCOM's higher education partners are Sussex County Community College (N.J.); Front Range Community College (Colorado); Valencia College (Florida); and Monroe County Community College (N.Y.). The initiative establishes capabilities in multiple key locations throughout the country to create a network of ecosystems supported by regional optics industry clusters and workforce training organizations. The effort seeks to grow educational opportunities by building optics labs, increasing curriculum development efforts, and the recruiting and training of teachers and students. 


In line with these pursuits, said Keene State College president Melinda Treadwell, the partners will develop and expand curricula, support dual enrollment for high school students, and create upskilling and tailored training for existing regional employers and employees. Keene State already offers an integrative degree in Sustainable Product Design and Innovation. The program combines industrial design, project management, and manufacturing engineering technologies. Students can also take classes with optical applications and earn a microcredential in that discipline. 

The partnership with AmeriCOM follows Keene State’s receipt of a $3 million grant that will be used in conjunction with a $100,000 gift from the Kingsbury Foundation to construct a teaching and training precision optics lab to be called the Kingsbury Center for Diamond Turning Excellence. Dave Shelton, AmeriCOM president and CEO, said that the newly formed partnership supports the establishment of pathways for careers in precision optics manufacturing, and, particularly, in single-point diamond turning.

Published: May 2024
BusinesseducationOpticsmanufacturingworkforceworkforce developmentoptics technicianAmeriCOMKeene State CollegepartnershipAmericas

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