Education and Training for Precision Optics Technicians
Precision optics is a critical U.S. industry from both an economic and security perspective, and precision optics technicians (POTs) are vital to the quality and future growth of this industry. THese technicians produce, test, and handle optical components that are used in laser and sophisticated electro-optical systems for defense, homeland security, aerospace, biomedical equipment, remote sensing, alternate energy production, and nanotechnology. Precision optics technicians also measure quality, add coatings and integrate optical components into electro-optical systems.
In 2009, the National Center for Optics and Photonics Education (OP-TEC) conducted a study of POT employers to project the demand for the new precision optics technicians. The finding of this study showed that 6019 POT technicians were currently (2009) employed, and that the demand in five years would increase by 3100 additional precision optics technicians.
1) Loss of experienced POTs in the United States
2) Only a few colleges created programs in Optical Fabrication
3) No known educational programs in two-year colleges still prepare new POTs
4) Precision Optics education/training is much more than just a “craft worker apprenticeship” experience
5) United States military, defense and homeland security rely on a domestic source for Precision Optics
Through funding provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF), OP-TEC has quantified how many POTs are needed, determined what knowledge and skills these technicians should possess, identified teams of colleges and employers willing to initiate educational programs to prepare POTs, designed a comprehensive initiative that would encourage and support colleges to develop the capacity for preparing POTs, and secured sufficient funding to carry out the developmental effort.
In 2012, OP-TEC updated and produced the second edition of the National Precision Optics Skill Standards for Technicians. The Standard provides the precision optics community and educators an updated listing of what technicians working in the precision optics industry should know and be able to do. It was developed from an extensive and comprehensive review process involving precision optics industry professionals and academic representatives, and has recieved endorsements from the American Precisions Optics Manafacturers Association (APOMA), Colorado Photonics Industry Association, New Mexico Optics Industry Association, and the Rochester and Florida Photonics Clusters. This Standard has formed the basis for the deisign of OP-TEC’s AAS degree POT curriculum. It also provides the “industry specifications” for developing these instructional materials.
Two of the courses in the curriculum are Quality Assurance of Precision Optics (QAPO) and Interferometry and Metrology. These courses can be infused into OP-TEC’s Photonics Technician curriculum to prepare technicians to measure the quality of precision optics and integrate them into laser and other electro-optics systems. The full AAS degree POT curriculum is built on a manufacturing technology core, and prepares technicians who can not only perform the tasks described earlier, but also fabricate precision optics components.
OP-TEC Precision Optics Technician Education Resources:
The National Precision Optics Skill Standards for Technicians, 2nd Edition (OP-TEC/UCF 2013). Please click here to for more information, to download a free copy of the standards or to request a complimentary bound copy!
View Letters of Support for this Initiative:
Angstrom Precision Optics, Inc. (NY)
Apollo Optical Systems (NY)
ASE Optics, Inc. (NY)
Corning Tropel (NY)
CVI Melles Griot (NY)
G-S Plastic Optics (NY)
Infotonics Technology Center, Inc. (NY)
ITT Geospatial Systems (NY)
JENOPTIK Optical Systems, Inc. (FL)
JK Consulting (NY)
JML Optical Industries, Inc. (NY)
Kessler Optics & Photonics Solutions, Ltd. (NY)
Lumetrics, Inc. (NY)
New Scale Technologies, Inc. (NY)
Northrop Grumman Laser Systems (FL)
Optimax Systems, Inc. (NY)
OptiPro Systems (NY)
Optics Technology, Inc. (NY)
Photon Gear, Inc. (NY)
Qioptiq, Inc. (NY)
Rochester Precision Optics (NY)
SCHOTT North America Advanced Optics (FL)
Semrock, Inc. (NY)
Sydor Optics, Inc. (NY)
Syntec Optics (NY)
Tower Optical Corporation (FL)