Monroe Community College (MCC) , the nation’s leading two-year college providing optician training, located in the heart of the nation’s optics manufacturing industry, learned of the grant award on Monday evening.
MCC, the nation’s only community college awarding associate degrees in precision optics, does not produce enough precision optics graduates to meet the annual demand. In 2019, 12 MCC graduates entered the optics industry to fill an annual demand of 574 technicians in the Finger Lakes area. This leaves 98% of Upstate New York skilled optics technician job openings unfilled. Coupled with industry reports that 20% of experienced technicians and engineers are approaching retirement, the need for skilled optics technicians is vast. The application title is Defense Engineering Education Program in Optics (MCC DEEP OPS).
According to the award documentation, the award from the Department of the Navy will Increase the number and diversity of optics technicians nationwide. During its initial three-year period, this program will impact a minimum of 3,000 high school students, college students, apprentices, and incumbent workers and will provide professional development to 35 high school teachers and six (6) MCC faculty. The program will establish 150 apprenticeships and 30 industry sponsors.
Tom Battley, Executive Director of New York Photonics, New York State’s industry cluster for optics, photonics and imaging, stated, “New York State, led by the Rochester Region, is the nation’s leader in optics manufacturing and optical manufacturing technologies. These technologies support a wide range of industries, from consumer products, to automotive, biotechnology and aerospace & defense.
Alexis Vogt, MCC’s endowed professor of optics, has shown in a few short years that she is a national leader in optics technology technician training. New York Photonics members and our extensive network of colleagues across the nation fully support her efforts. She deserves a great deal of credit.”
The grant proposal received extensive support from the New York State delegations, especially Congressman Joe Morelle (NY25), and senators Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand.