Monday, March 2, 2009

Indiana University of Pennsylvania: 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.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) has a two-year campus in Freeport, PA (northwest of Pittsburgh), that offers AAS degrees and transfer opportunities to its baccalaureate programs. A growing photonics industry is emerging in this region, including companies such as II-VI Incorporated, a world leader in laser and optical crystal growth and manufacturing technology; Optical Systems Technology, Inc., a manufacturer of night vision productsoptical instruments and lenses; and Sabeus, Inc., a leading independent developer of fiber optic systems for acoustic sensing, intrusion detection and surveillance applications.

In 2002, IUP launched a comprehensive degree program in Electro-Optics (EO) which offers education/training in EO from associate’s degrees to bachelor’s degrees. The multiple entrance and exit points provide considerable flexibility for young people to pursue technical and academic education in photonics. The first level of the program allows students to complete the 64 credits needed for the associate degrees in EO. After earning an associate’s degree, students are prepared for employment as technicians in the photonics industry.

Students may exit the program at this point or continue to the second level of the program which allows them to transfer the entire 64 credits from their associate degree toward a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Physics (Electro-Optics Track). After completing their BS Physics, the graduates can enter the workforce into highly-skilled positions in the electro-optics industry.

IUP has signed articulation agreements with local high schools which allow their students to earn up to 15 credits toward the associate degree in EO. IUP is also working with local school districts to expand their dual enrollment opportunities with other high schools.

In addition to his role as an OP-TEC model, college mentor, and provider of technical assistance IUP’s lead EO professor, Dr. Feng Zhou, has assisted OP-TEC in the following ways:

  • Reviewed and pilot tested OP-TEC instructional modules.
  • Tracked the emergence of new technology developments in solid state lighting and solar energy photovoltaics.
  • Developed and conducted summer camps for recruiting high school students; prepared a monograph to describe the program outreach activities and its successes.
  • Designed graphics for use in revising/updating Laser Electro-Optics Technology (LEOT) instructional modules.
  • Served an internship at OP-TEC in the summer of 2008, to develop labs and equipment lists for OP-TEC photonics courses.

IUP’s participation as a Partner College in OP-TEC has provided professional development opportunities for Dr. Zhou, a leadership role for IUP in photonics education and has strengthened IUP’s outreach to high schools through recruitment efforts, on-campus student experiences and summer camps.

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

Contact information for IUP EO Program:
Dr. Feng Zhou
Professor of EO
ph 724-294-3300 x27

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