Thursday, May 24, 2012

Are You Teaching About Fiber Lasers?

The emergence of high power fiber lasers, and their applications, is one of the most significant photonics breakthroughs in the last decade. Fiber lasers consist of a long “fiber-optic active laser medium,” pumped primarily by diode lasers directed into the fiber cladding.

They have CW outputs exceeding 10KW and can produce output pulses as short as 10 picoseconds. Because the pump light from the diode lasers lies in the absorption bands of the fiber laser active medium, the conversion of input electrical power to output laser power is highly efficient (30-40% efficiency, as compared to gas and solid lasers with efficiencies below 1%).

Average output powers from fiber lasers can reach as high as 10KW. Fiber lasers can operate in the CW mode or in various pulse modes; even picosecond pulses.

Because fiber lasers are smaller, more efficient, lighter weight, less costly, and their output beams are easier to manipulate than CO2 or Nd:YAG lasers, they are becoming the laser of choice for many materials processing applications, such as welding, drilling, cutting and etching of metals, plastics, ceramics, glass etc.

An excellent one-hour webcast is available for you to update your knowledge and understanding of fiber lasers at  (Click on the red Register Now button for on-demand viewing.)
OP-TEC has developed two instructional modules on fundamentals and applications of fiber lasers. They can be previewed at We have also identified inexpensive equipment and designed labs to accompany the modules.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Train Additional Photonics Faculty Using OP-TEC's Hybrid Online Faculty Development Course

Excellent faculty is the key to a strong, high quality, photonics AAS degree program. Faculty members are the “first line” to the students; they recruit, teach, encourage and counsel students; they develop and control the labs; and they help grads to find their jobs. When faculty members are well-prepared and supported, photonics education programs are healthy and growing; when they are overburdened, poorly supported or approaching retirement, their programs suffer.

So, who teaches the Photonics courses when you aren’t available? Who can pick up additional teaching assignments when enrollments increase? One of the best ways you can assure the continued success of your photonics program is to develop another faculty member who is competent and prepared to teach the classes.

Additional photonics teachers may come from at least three sources.
  • Recruiting other faculty members who are teaching related courses (electronics, instrumentation, manufacturing, etc.). This is how some of you entered the photonics field.
  • Developing adjuncts from local photonics industries is another excellent source; they also may be able to enhance the relevance of the courses by sharing from their work experiences. And they may be able to assist in updating course content or in creating/teaching specialty courses.
  • Training high school science and technology teachers for teaching dual-credit courses, and encouraging their students to consider photonics as a career.

OP-TEC recently completed its 2012 Employer Needs Assessment for Photonics Technicians. Although the results are still being analyzed, I can tell you that the demand for new photonics techs remains very strong. Most of you already know this because your recent grads are receiving multiple job offers. And the demand for colleges to provide photonics training for employed techs has produced an additional challenge that we all must address more aggressively in the next year.

From time to time you may receive a notice regarding OP-TEC's Hybrid, Online Faculty Development Courses in Photonics. In one-on-one conversations with photonics faculty, I have discussed the need to train additional faculty at your institutions and at nearby high schools. I would encourage you to consider promoting this option. As your Photonics program continues to grow you will need the flexibility of having other faculty and teachers who can step in and help you. And it doesn't have to cost a lot of $$ to do this.

OP-TEC will admit to these courses, without charge, additional faculty at your institution, potential industry adjuncts, and teachers at local high schools in your service area. They will be enrolled on a "first come-first served" basis; and we have made arrangements for more students to enroll in these courses. One course requirement is that course participants are asked to travel to an OP-TEC partner college to take a 3-day “capstone” lab experience. This past year Chrys Panayiotou, at Indian River State College, enrolled several faculty and teachers from his college and nearby high schools. To save them the cost of traveling to another college to attend the capstones, Chrys has provided the capstone experiences for his faculty and teachers in his labs. I would encourage you to consider a similar arrangement with OP-TEC.

All we ask at OP-TEC, is that the faculty/teachers are committed to completing the entire course, including the capstone experience.

OP-TEC’s next Hybrid, Online Faculty Development Offering, Fundamentals of Light and Lasers, is now available for qualified applicants. This course starts August 20, 2012! It is in an Open Entry/Open Exit format, so applicants can begin any time after this date, as long as they can complete it by May 15, 2013. Cost: No tuition or materials fees!

This hybrid, online course will cover OP-TEC's Course 1, Fundamentals of Light and Lasers. Each of the six modules contained within the course will be taught online with a high level of self-paced instruction combined with an interactive component facilitated by email exchanges and online discussions. Modules will cover topics that span a broad range of basic photonics concepts.

After the completion of the six modules, participants typically spend a 3-day period at an OP-TEC partner college where they have the opportunity to conduct all laboratory experiments included in the course and discuss with experienced instructors best practices for teaching the materials. The 3-day laboratory experience for the courses starting in August 2012 will be scheduled for June 2013 and will be arranged at dates that are mutually agreeable to the participants. But you can save the cost of your participant’s travel to attend this “capstone” experience if you are able to provide the lab experiences at your location, like Chrys is doing this year. If there is sufficient interest, I will ask Fred Seeber, who conducts the “capstone” at Camden County College, and Chrys Panayiotou to conduct a webinar that will provide guidance for all of you who want to conduct your own capstone.

Participants that successfully complete the OE/OE online course and a 3-day lab session will receive a certification of completion from OP-TEC. Participants will be responsible for travel, lodging, and meals for the 3-day lab sessions held at Partner Colleges in June 2013.

Visit for more information and to apply online!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Free Optics and Photonics Publications and Webinars

College faculty and high school teachers of optics, lasers and photonics have a need to “stay current” to new developments and applications in the field. Professional networks and attendance at conferences are certainly useful, but opportunities to attend these meetings are limited to the availability of your time and travel $$. Another way to do this, from your office or computer, is by receiving publication and attending webinars from free trade journals.

I have identified at least 12 free publications that contain the latest technical information and news. Some are general photonics pubs; others are publications in photonics applications, such as materials processing, telecommunications, bio optics, etc. If you want to receive any or all of these pubs, just click on the URLs provided by their titles. In it are the web site locations for you to sign up for the pubs. It's pretty easy, or I wouldn't be able to do it.

In many cases, you may select the digital (e-mailed) version, or have the hard copy mailed to you. I review all of these pubs; mostly I just receive the electronic versions; they're much quicker to review. But you may want to receive hard copies so that you can distribute them to your students. At least twice/year they will publish a Buyer's Guide. Once/year they publish a "directory".

Free publications from Pennwell:

BioOptics World :

Industrial Laser Solution:

Laser Focus World:


Vision Systems Design:

The website is powered by BioOptics World (from Pennwell) and has many good links and much information.

Free publications from Laurin Publishing:


Photonics Spectra:

Photovoltaics World:

Solid State Technology:

Free Digital and E-newsletters:

LEDs Magazine:

Edmund Optics:

Electro Optics: