By Alexis Vogt, PhD, Monroe Community College
We need not look any further than our wrists and pockets for evidence of the impact biophotonic devices have on our lives. Our watches and phones can monitor our health and even remind us when it’s time to exercise. All around us, biophotonics is revolutionizing our world.
I am often asked what needs to be done to advance the field and how to help biophotonics continue expanding and growing. One fundamental challenge we must overcome is the shortage of skilled workers. We need to encourage more young people, especially women and diverse candidates, to enter into biophotonic scientific research and manufacturing.
Our optics and photonics manufacturing workforce is in dire need of skilled technicians. More openings exist than people to fill them. In addition, experienced technicians are approaching retirement. Optimax Systems Inc., based in Ontario, N.Y., widely advertises that it hires artists, musicians, gamers, and even chefs, because those individuals already possess good hand-eye coordination. They just need to learn the optics. And to do this, Optimax and other companies, including JML Optical Industries LLC in Rochester, N.Y., are partnering with the American Precision Optics Manufacturers Association (APOMA) to offer apprenticeships in optics and biophotonics manufacturing.