Thursday, November 6, 2008

What’s our capacity for producing photonics techs? What's the need?

This past summer, we attempted to locate all of the two-year colleges that offered education and training on photonics, lasers and/or optics. We examined compilations from a variety of sources, scanned the Internet and asked other colleges. We identified 28 colleges and attempted to contact them. The 26 colleges we reached are:

Camden County College, Central NM CC, Central Carolina CC, Heald College, Idaho State Univ (2 yr) Indian Hills CC, Indian River SC, Indiana Univ/Penn (2yr), Irvine Valley/CACT, Kauai CC, Linn St CC, Maui CC, Monroe CC, Queensborough CC, Pima CC, San Jose CC, Springfield TCC, Stevens Inst of Tech, Three Rivers CC, Univ No Cal (2 yr), Valencia CC, Vincennes Univ (2 yr), Texas State TC, Tri-County TC, Wallace CC, Wash St Univ (2 yr)

Twenty-four of these colleges provided us information on current enrollment and recent completers. Some of the colleges offered complete AAS programs in Laser/Electro-Optics or Photonics; others offered some photonics courses in their electronics core, or as elective courses in other technical specialties; and others offered courses for retraining or upgrading. In total, the 24 colleges had about 700 students enrolled and estimated about 280 completers each year. This is not enough! In 2003, we conducted a needs assessment of employers to determine how many new photonics techs they needed each year. The projected need through 2008 is about 1800 new techs/year. Only 280 new techs available when 1800 are needed is quite a gap! One of OP-TEC’s main goals is to close that gap.

Here’s how we are working on this goal:
  • About 1/3 of the techs (500-600 teach year) are needed in R&D, for OEMs or in field service - they require a full AAS in laser/electro-optics or photonics.
  • About 2/3 of the techs (1000-1200) are needed to operate and maintain photonics equipment that is being used in another field where photonics is an enabling technology.
  • About 1/3 of the techs are already working and need retraining in photonics.

OP-TEC has a developed a plan and curriculum for colleges to serve each of these populations. We will also conduct a new needs assessment later this year to update the data from the 2003 study. It’s possible that our information about colleges that offer photonics education and training is incomplete. If your college has offerings, and you are not in the list shown above, please contact us so that we can add your data to our records.

1 comment:

treejohn572 said...

Very interesting. I thought every technical school would offer this at there school, but I guess not. This photonics sounds like a cool thing to be trained in.