OPEN Optics and Photonics Education News
Newsletter of the Optics and Photonics College Network
October 2020
Upskill and Re-skill Misplaced Workforce During COVID-19: Photonics and Laser Technologies are Essential
COVID-19 and widespread business closures have led to millions of jobs lost in the United States. It has disproportionally affected workers in low-wage jobs, primarily in the customer service sector. Quick credentialing in photonics-based technologies is a path to recovery for misplaced workers. During the spread of COVID-19, photonics companies sustained their operations playing an essential role in the national pandemic response and economic recovery, supporting healthcare, telecommunications, utilities, defense and security, and other sectors. Jobs in photonics are secure, well-paid, and provide opportunities for further development. OPCN colleges already have an infrastructure and a platform to support quick training and credentialing in laser technologies, fiber optics, solar, precision optics, and more. LASER-TEC has developed an informational brochure to help OPCN colleges with establishing these fast-track training programs. If interested, contact us at
Enrolling Now: Online Professional Development in Laser-Photonics Technologies
During this time of uncertainty and precaution, we have modified the format of our professional development program. The series of online Laser-Photonics courses is now open-entry and self-paced to help accommodate educators' and industry professionals' busy schedules and continue building a stronger knowledge base in photonics disciplines. The series consists of the following five courses. We currently offer the first three courses and the last two will be available in the near future:
·        Introduction to Photonics
·        Geometrical and Physical Optics
·        Fundamentals of Fiber Optics
·        Laser Systems and Applications (TBA)
·        Spectroscopy and Applications (TBA)
Each class consists of two parts: online theory and laboratories in a face-to-face setting at Indian River State College, FL. One can choose to take only online or both parts of each course. The course descriptions, registration, and other information about our professional development courses can be found on our website.
New and Updated Educational Modules and Materials
LASER-TEC is currently working on developing new and updating some of the existing photonics educational materials. Both college and K-12 educators will soon have access to these products:

  • New 2021 edition of the Light and Optics Experiment Manual and Kit. The new edition will include feedback by our technical reviewers, new experiments, and updated content of the kit. All 23 experiments in the 2021 edition will be supported by the kit. No additional equipment or tools will be required.
  • Educational module “Semiconductor Lasers”. The content of the module is being finalized based on the results of the recently completed technical review.
  • Educational module “Applications of Lasers in Medicine”. This module is currently being reviewed by subject matter experts from both industry and academia.
  • New module on “Applications of Wide-Band-Gap Devices” in lasers is currently under development in partnership with PowerAmerica, a National Manufacturing Institute.
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: Monroe Community College (MCC) - Rochester, NY
Located in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of New York State, Monroe Community College offers stackable certificate and associate degree programs to prepare technicians for the region’s vibrant optics industry. Rochester area employers have relied on MCC since 1963 to educate generations of optical technicians. MCC is the only college in the world where students can earn an associate degree in optical systems technology.

Optics are an essential part of the design and production of consumer electronics, lasers, eyeglasses, telescopes and cameras, to name just a few. Skilled optical technicians work with engineers and scientists using high technology to inspect and test optical components and assembly systems. Optics skills open the door to fantastic opportunities with top companies. More than 700 technicians have graduated and are working in the optics and photonics industry throughout the United States. Companies that have hired graduates of these programs include: Bausch + Lomb, Coherent, Corning Inc., Eastman Kodak, Excelis Inc., IBM, IDEX, ITT Goulds Pumps, JML Optical, L-3 Technologies, Laboratory for Laser Energetics, Lockheed Martin, Optimax, OptiPro, QED, Rochester Precision Optics, Spectra-Physics, Sydor Optics, Texas Instruments, Xerox, and many more. 
Associate of Applied Science Degree in Optical Systems Technology

The Optical Systems Technology degree offers a unique, two-year comprehensive program that prepares graduates for work in high technology fields which apply light and optical principles.

The curriculum combines the study of optics with electronics to prepare students for careers in electro-optics, as well as traditional precision optics fabrication.

The course of study gives students the opportunity to operate much of the same precision equipment and state-of-the art optical systems used in industry.

Graduates of this program work with scientists and engineers in research, development, design, production, quality control, test, and evaluation of optical components and systems, as well as sales and service. 
Skills of A.A.S. degree graduates:
  • Evaluate optical systems using a number of geometrical optics test procedures
  • Evaluate optical systems using a number of wave optics test procedures
  • Take standard measurements and evaluate typical electro-optic configurations
  • Understand and perform basic and advanced optical manufacturing techniques for today’s precision optical components
  • Understand and perform basic and advanced metrology techniques for testing optical systems and individual optical components
  • Handle and clean an optical surface according to industry standards
  • Form an achromatic doublet by assembling, aligning, and cementing two optical elements
  • Use interferometers to measure optical components
  • Identify the centration and spacing of optical surfaces in an assembly using an optical centering system
  • Assess the optical performance of an optical system using an Optical Transfer Function (OTF) measurement system
  • Describe particulate control in a laminar flow clean environment
  • Interpret optical drawings
  • Prepare Quality Assurance (QA) reports and detailed laboratory reports
  • Inspect an optical surface to identify particles, scratches, and digs down to the micron size scale
  • Basic workplace skills including technical writing, oral communication, teamwork, and problem solving
Stackable Certificate in Optical Systems Technology
MCC’s Optical Systems Technology Certificate program provides a solid optics background with options to focus on manufacturing, testing, or electro-optics/photonics applications. The certificate program is designed to be completed in one year. All certificate courses may be applied to the requirements of the A.A.S. degree program for students who decide to continue their studies.
Contact Information
Name: Dr. Alexis Vogt, Professor and Endowed Chair, Optical Systems Technology
Telephone: (231) 995-1995
Address: 1000 East Henrietta Road, Rochester, NY 14623
How can I recruit from this college?
Companies interested in recruiting MCC optics students should contact the optics program director listed above. Graduates are available every December and May. Campus recruiting visits to present your company and employment opportunities are welcomed. MCC will make available, free of charge, a private room to interview interested students.

MCC is leading the effort to expand the precision optics manufacturing apprenticeship nationwide. Please contact us if your company is interested in participating in our apprenticeship program. Additionally, please contact us if you would like to hire one of our students as a summer intern.
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.