OPEN Optics and Photonics Education News
Newsletter of the Optics and Photonics College Network
August 2020
Due to the spread of COVID-19, student and public outreach has remained one of the most challenging tasks for all photonics programs. During the summer months, faculty and administrators deployed many creative solutions to reach out to students and their parents. Many programs have been relying on their social media platforms, others recorded videos and shared them through networks of K-12 ambassadors. Online summer programs, remote lab visits, and interviews kept students engaged.

LASER-TEC has developed a flyer showcasing the fast-track training paths in photonics and career opportunities in industries that were deemed essential. This flyer is available for all OPCN colleges in an editable format. A college can adopt this flyer according to its specific course offerings, hiring companies, laboratory facilities, and more. If you would like to receive the electronic file for this flyer, please contact us at
Our OPCN Network is Growing!
We are delighted to introduce and welcome new members of the OPCN group who joined us in the last couple of months:
Arunava Roy, a physics professor in the Physical Sciences Department at Young Harris College, Young Harris, GA. Arunava modularly integrated photonics in the physics class that is being offered in fall 2020.

Brian Lake, a supervisor of the newly established Optics Technology Program at Sussex County Community College, NJ. This program is strongly supported by photonics companies such as ThorLabs, Esco Optics, Inrad Optics, and others. Photonics courses are being offered in fall 2020.
Chanda Ilunga Guy, an instructor of Applied Technologies, Truckee Meadows Community College, NV. Chanda is interested in integrating laser and laser safety courses in the Manufacturing Technologies program that has a strong partnership with Tesla Gigafactory in Reno.
New Edition of Laser Safety Standard ANSI Z136.5 for Educational Institutions
Contributed Dr. Fred P. Seeber
Professor Emeritus of Physics/Photonics, Chair ANSI SSC-5 Committee [Responsible for the Z136.5 Laser Safety Standard], OPCN Member

Lasers are an enabling technology being deployed in all sectors of our economy. Depending upon one’s perspective the introduction of lasers in education is either “trickle down” from research and development facilities or “organic”, driven by parents encouraging that this ubiquitous tool for science, technology, engineering and math is deployed to encourage and inspire our next and future generations of problem solvers. ANSI Z136.5-2020 “Safe Use of Lasers in Educational institutions” is the ‘go to’ standard for applied laser safety in learning environments from grade schools through to college levels.

This practical standard for laser safety applied in educational environments was written with the educator and student in mind, that may for the first time be reading through a regulatory safety standard. Feedback from the education sector that have participated in Laser Safety Officer training and SSC-5 committee members expressed a need for more structured guidance and examples.

The net result is that this new version is a 38% increase in content over the 2009 revision, including:

  • New and updated definitions
  • A listing of Acronyms and Abbreviations
  • More detailed information on laser pointers and their safe use
  • Improved guidance on appropriate lasers respective of educational class levels
  • Expanded safety guidance on demonstration lasers with the public
  • Updated tables, for example: Maximum Permissible Exposures [MPEs] and Nominal Ocular Hazard Distances [NOHD]
  • Current warning signs, compliant with ANSI Z535 and ISO 3864 with example lab layouts in color
  • New color figures and examples in the appendices illustrating exposure conditions and hazard evaluations
  • More detailed appendices and references for the organization and implementation of laser safety and training programs, including scope and structure of a written laser safety program

The Z136 review process within the SSC-5 subcommittee for laser safety in educational institutions and then the greater main Laser Safety Z136 body, further strengthened and refined this world class standard for laser safety in educational environments.

Dr. Seeber states: That the ANSI Z136.5 Safe Use of Lasers in Educational Institutions represents the latest and best in class for practical laser safety for students, educators and administrators. And as laser technology continues to grow in capabilities and adoption in the economy, our educational institutions now have access to the appropriate and practical guidance for any laser safety concerns.

This Standard can be purchased from the Laser Institute of America or 1-800-34-laser.
LASER-TEC Finishes its Seventh Year of Operation
This month, we are wrapping up our seventh year since our Center was established back in 2013. In the face of many challenges and unpredictable turns, we’ve had a good and successful year. Our accomplishments, outcomes, and impact can be found in the Annual Evaluation and the National Visiting Committee reports.

In September of this year, LASER-TEC will transition to a Resource Center, focusing on updating and developing materials and their dissemination.
LASER-TEC Resources
Whether you are looking for support with your college program's outreach, curriculum design, academic-business partnerships, or student placement, LASER-TEC has resources for you. Visit the Resources tab on our website to browse textbooks, kits, laboratory manuals, and informational and outreach materials. The current collection is comprised of both LASER-TEC and OP-TEC materials. Don't forget to check this page often, as we will constantly upload additional resources.
Featured College: Springfield Technical Community College - Springfield, MA
STCC’s Associate of Science Degree and One-Year Certificate program in Optics and Photonics Technology prepare engineering technicians with the knowledge and skills of lasers, optics, and electronics needed to design, test and maintain complex optical and photonic systems. Graduates work side-by-side with engineers and scientists involved with cutting-edge applications in a wide variety of highly technical applications including laser materials processing, fiber optic communications, precision optical manufacturing & metrology, aerospace & defense, homeland security, medical device fabrication, nanotechnology, integrated photonic devices and many others. As the only program of its kind in New England, STCC’s Optics and Photonics Technology graduates are highly sought by industry and have enjoyed excellent job placement and salaries since 1976. Companies that hire STCC graduates include MIT Lincoln Labs, Northrop-Grumman, Coherent Laser, Lumentum, Trumpf Laser, OFS Fiber, IPG Photonics, Convergent Photonics, Viavi, II-VI Corp., L3, Zygo, and many more.
Associate of Science Degree and One-year Certificate Programs in Optics and Photonics Technology

One and two-year programs with strong interdisciplinary core curriculum provide extensive hands-on training in state-of-the-art optics and photonics labs. The one-year certificate program, which serves as the first year of the Associate Degree program, provides students with extensive theoretical and hands-on training in lasers and laser systems, fiber optics, geometric optics, electronics, SolidWorks and manufacturing essentials. The Associate degree program builds on the certificate program by providing additional advanced coursework in industrial laser applications, wave optics, advanced topics and a year-long senior capstone project. The curriculum is heavily project- and problem-based and the majority of students are afforded paid internship opportunities with local laser and optics companies.
Skills of AS degree graduates:
  • Align, clean, build and test complex optical systems
  • Strip, cleave, clean and align multimode, singlemode, and dual-clad fiber 
  • Calculate and measure fiber optic power loss in decibels and power in dBm
  • Terminate and test fiber optic cables for connector and insertion loss.
  • Operate OTDRs, fusion splicers, optical spectrum analyzers, fiber inspection microscopes and fiber optic loss test sets.
  • Identify fiber loss mechanisms and create fiber optic power budgets.
  • Align, operate and characterize of LEDs, laser diodes, and photodetectors.
  • Operate, test and troubleshoot erbium-doped fiber amplifiers (EDFA), wavelength-division multiplexers, add/drop multiplexers, circulators, thin-film filters, and fiber-Bragg gratings
  • Design, build and test electronic circuits and devices
  • Use oscilloscopes, multimeters, signal generators, spectrum analyzers and laboratory power supplies
  •  Apply electrical and laser safety standards and practices 
  • Operate, test and maintain Ytterbium-doped and Erbium-doped fiber lasers
  • Operate, test and maintain CO2, Argon-Krypton, and HeNe gas lasers
  • Use a laser power and energy meters to measure the output power and energy of a laser
  • Use a laser beam profiler to measure the spatial output characteristics of a laser
  • Use an optical spectrum analyzer to measure the temporal output characteristics of a laser
  • Test, maintain and troubleshoot basic laser components
  • Produce linearly and circularly polarized light
  • Construct and align Michelson, Twyman-Green and Mach-Zehnder Interferometer
  • Use low and high power CO2 lasers for materials processing of metals, plastic and organic materials
  • Use low and high power Ytterbium fiber lasers for materials processing metals
  • Align and operate a Zygo interferometer for precision optical metrology
  • Assemble, solder, test and troubleshoot electronic printed circuit boards 
Certificate (One-year)
Optics and Photonics Technology
Contact Information
Name: Dr. Nicholas Massa
Telephone: (413) 755-4579
Address: 1 Armory Square, Springfield, MA 01102
Program Website
How can I recruit from this college?
Come to our college to present your company and employment opportunities to our students. We will make available, free of charge, a private room to interview interested students. Please contact the person below to make arrangements for a recruiting visit. Graduates are available every December and May. 
OPCN Member Colleges

The Optics and Photonics College Network (OPCN) is an association of postsecondary photonics technician educators operated by LASER-TEC. To learn more about the OPCN and to view the list of member institutions, please visit
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OPEN is published by the LASER-TEC Center for Laser and Fiber Optics Education
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DUE-1700352. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.