Thursday, June 4, 2009

OP-TEC Will Prepare You to Teach Optics, Lasers, and Photonics

Photonics is an “enabling technology.” This means that optics, lasers, fiber-optics, and other electro-optics devices may introduce new solutions, enhance devices, or improve the performance of processes in fields such as medicine, telecommunications, environmental monitoring, manufacturing/materials processing, defense/homeland security, alternative energy, lighting, displays, and many other areas where today’s students will be tomorrow’s workers. Beginning now and growing rapidly in the future, photonics will be as integral to technology as electronics has been for the past several decades.

If you are teaching science or technology in high school, are you introducing optics and photonics to your students and giving them the foundation they will need in this area? Or if you are a college faculty member in a technical field, are you providing the basics of photonics and its applications related to your field, so that your students will enhance their career opportunities and be prepared to grow in their jobs?

OP-TEC has two courses that secondary and postsecondary educators can use to provide the photonics foundations their students will need. If you’re interested, we can help you get started.

The courses cover topics in basic light sources and optics, laser principles and laser safety, fiber optics, holography, and laser applications. The courses can be tailored to cover applications in the particular field the student is studying.

The costs for putting in Course 1 may be a lot less than you think. We have an equipment list for colleges and are developing a lower-cost version for high schools. You may even be able to borrow some of the equipment from your physics labs.

For the last two years, OP-TEC has provided hybrid online courses to train high school teachers and college faculty about lasers and optics and how to teach these courses. This spring 22 educators enrolled in training for Course 1. Over a 12-week period, they have studied (with the help of an online moderator) all six modules, engaged in online discussions, worked the problems, and observed streaming videos of the labs, where they recorded data and performed calculations. This month, the completers will travel to a ”photonics college” for three days, where they will work all of the labs, meet with experienced faculty members, and gain information about equipping and setting up a photonics lab. OP-TEC will provide the faculty training course without charge to qualified teachers. Their only costs will be their travel expenses to the “photonics college.”

As a faculty member who had completed OP-TEC's "Faculty Development" course last year for Fundamentals of Light & Lasers, Course 1, I can report that I am delighted with the support of OP-TEC's staff and their college partners! I am working to build our photonics/laser program at my campus. We are adopting the OP-TEC materials for our college and this will be the first semester that we will be using the OP-TEC Course 1 textbook. OP-TEC has been very helpful with helping me develop my course locally. I strongly recommend other faculty who wish to add photonics to their colleges & universities to consider taking the OP-TEC Faculty Development course!” Tom Millen, Assistant Professor, Electronics & Computer Technology, Ivy Tech Community College

OP-TEC will offer both courses in c/y 09-10. So if you are interested, please contact us and let us help you help your students become qualified for the jobs of tomorrow in the emerging field of photonics.