Monday, February 16, 2009

Indian River State College: An OP-TEC Partner College

OP-TEC is a consortium of two year colleges that have well-established photonics programs. These “Partner Colleges” are the models for OP-TEC curricula; they develop and test instructional modules, guides, innovative courses and teaching strategies; and they provide technical assistance to colleges that are planning and initiating new offerings in photonics. At Indian River State College (IRSC), in Fort Pierce, FL, photonics and robotics have been infused as specialty areas of an AAS degree program. The photonics and robotics specialties are introduced in the second year, built into an electronics engineering technology (EET) core curriculum. The program is called the Robotics and Photonics Institute. Since the infusion of photonics the enrollment in the EET program has increased more than fourfold, as indicated in the chart above.

The IRSC photonics program specializes in the areas of Defense and Homeland Security, Biomedical Instrumentation, and Photovoltaics (solar cells). The Robotics and Photonics Institute is housed at the Kight Center for Emerging Technologies, one of the most advanced technical facilities for two-year programs in the nation. The architects of this program are Dr. Chrys Panayiotou, Chair of the Electronics Engineering Technology program, and Dr. Jose Farinos, Dean of the Advanced Technology Division. In July 2008, IRSC received the National Program Innovation award for the Robotics and Photonics Institute at the SAME-TEC conference in Austin, Texas.

In addition to their role as an OP-TEC model, college mentor and provider of technical assistance, IRSC provides other, unique services to OP-TEC:

  • In cooperation with the University of Central Florida, IRSC has developed three instructional modules.
    1. Infrared Systems for Homeland Security
    2. Imaging Systems for Homeland Security
    3. Photonic Principles in Photovoltaic Cell Technology
  • Dr. Panayiotou has written two Program Planning Guides that are published and distributed by OP-TEC.
    1. Infusing Biomedical Applications of Photonics into EET Programs
    2. Infusing Defense and Homeland Security Applications into EET Programs
  • IRSC developed a very successful recruiting strategy consisting of a dedicated recruiter visiting high schools on a daily basis, monthly information sessions, open houses and laboratory tours, radio and newspaper advertising, hosting high school counselor meetings, and summer institutes for high school students. Click here to view the paper on this innovation.

IRSC’s participation as a Partner College in OP-TEC has provided professional development opportunities for Dr. Panayiotou, a leadership role for IRSC in photonics education and significant enrollment growth in IRSC’s photonics program through their testing of innovative student recruitment strategies with local high schools.

Are you a graduate of IRSC? Tell me about your experience at IRSC. Where are you working now? How did your education at IRSC prepare you for your career?

Contact info for IRSC:
Dr. Chrys Panayiotou
Dr. Jose Farinos

No comments: