Optics, Photonics, and Lasers Technical Education Curriculum Development
Photonics, precision optics, and lasers are high-tech devices that interact with light. Almost all modern consumer electronics contain some photonics technology. Photonics are also important in new technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality that are used in education, space, and military applications. Across the United States, the yearly number of graduates from community colleges in the photonics field is far lower than the demand for new photonics technicians. To help meet this demand, Irvine Valley College will team up with six other colleges and universities in the western region of the United States to create and promote more pathways for students to successfully pursue technician careers in the photonics industry. The team will work with photonics industries to develop new course materials that will be openly available. New digital badges that represent desired skills or abilities in photonics will also be created so that technicians with these skills can by more easily identified by prospective employers. This project will assist in growing and strengthening the nation's photonics technician workforce.
The goal of this project is to prepare highly-trained technicians for the photonics workforce through collaboration among Career and Technical Education (CTE) faculty and industry professionals throughout the western region of the United States. The main objectives are to: 1) establish a curriculum development framework for open-license, online educational resources to support the training of new or incumbent photonics technicians and faculty members; 2) develop and pilot the open educational resources, including courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, and streaming videos; and 3) create, pilot, and facilitate the use of industry-standard digital badges for photonics technicians; and 4) facilitate a western regional network of photonics faculty and industry. The developed curriculum will be openly accessible through a Creative Commons license, and the digital badges will be created through Concentric Sky's Badgr platform. The approach will be shared across states via the partner colleges: Oregon Institute of Technology in Portland, OR; Lake Washington Institute of Technology in Kirkland, WA; Spokane Community College in Spokane, WA; Gallatin College in Bozeman, MT; Idaho State University in Pocatello, ID; and Pima Community College in Tucson, AZ. Project results and best practices will also be disseminated throughout the nationwide NSF ATE network and other national venues, to support national development of photonics degrees and certifications for technicians.