It’s tough to get higher tech than the OptiPro Pro 80 GTS.
About the size of a phone booth, with a separate arm holding a control panel covered in buttons, dials and a touchscreen, the machine turns discs of glass into specialized, very precise, very expensive optics.
One of those computer-controlled grinders — along with a sister machine, a Pro 80 P polisher, both made by Wayne County’s OptiPro Systems — stand in the front of Monroe Community College’s optics lab, in stark digital contrast to the much older equipment farther back in the lab.
Two such machines can easily cost $300,000-plus, adjunct instructor Ed Fess — who also is R&D manager at OptiPro — told the class of close to a dozen MCC students. “Anything we do in optics is not cheap,” Fess said.
Those students and that new equipment both are part of a major turnaround in MCC’s Optical Technology program. Offering associate’s degrees and certificates in optical systems technology, the program dates back to the early 1970s and has long been a feeder for local optics companies seeking workers.