Monday, August 3, 2009

The Photonics College Network Was Launched!

The OP-TEC Photonics College Network (OPCN) was initiated last week, at the HI-TEC Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. Twenty-three faculty members and administrators were present, representing 18 of the nation’s 29 photonics colleges. Two additional faculty members also attended, representing two other colleges that are planning to start new photonics programs in the near future.

The OPCN met for five hours over two evenings, and accomplished the following:

  • In a “networking session”, members exchanged contact information, program descriptions and student recruitment brochures.
  • Members asked OP-TEC to create and maintain an OPCN community web site, open only to members, for the purpose of sharing successful strategies and engaging in discussions on issues and problems related to photonics technician education.
  • Members agreed to participate in conducting Regional Needs Assessments of photonics technician job opportunities.
  • Members agreed to participate in quarterly teleconferences, beginning in September 2009.
  • Members requested OP-TEC to develop and conduct monthly webinars on photonics education innovations and technical updates. These 1-hour webinars will be led by OPCN members, OP-TEC center staff and technical experts. Topics will be agreed upon in the next six weeks, and the webinars will begin in the fall of 2009.

OP-TEC announced that matching mini grants would be awarded in 2009-2010, on a competitive basis, for selected OPCN members to initiate proven strategies to increase photonics student enrollment/retention at OPCN colleges.

Dr. Fred Seeber, Professor Emeritus at Camden County College, provided a seminar to the OPCN members on Laser Safety, highlighting the recently released ANSI Z136.5 Safe Use of Lasers in Educational Institutions. Copies of the new ANSI Standard were given to each OPCN member in attendance.

The following colleges were represented at the meetings: Bellingham Technical College; Camden County College; Central Carolina Community College; Central New Mexico Community College; College of Lake County; Delaware Technical College; Idaho State University (2-yr program); Indian Hills Community College; Indian River State College; Indiana University of Pennsylvania (2-yr Northpointe Campus); Irvine Valley College/CACT; Ivy Tech Community College; Monroe Community College; Northwest Vista Community College; Pima Community College; Sinclair Community College; Texas State Technical College; TriCounty Technical College; Valencia Community College; and, Wallace State Community College.

Membership in OPCN is available, without charge, to other two-year colleges offering photonics education. If you would like additional information about OPCN, please contact us at

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