Saturday, October 11, 2008

OP-TEC Report to Partners & Associates

OP-TEC successfully completed its first two years of operation on August 31, 2008. Much of the work in these two years was focused on “building the infrastructure” and strengthening the enrollment and capabilities of our Partner Colleges. A brief summary of our accomplishments is shown in the first attachment titled “Y2 Accomplishments”. Among the infrastructure accomplishments were the revision of the Skill Standards, preparation of Program Planning Guides, completion of curriculum materials and engaging our Employer Council.

You may recall that our last survey of employer requirements indicated that we need 1800 new photonics techs/year. We also conducted a study this summer to determine the capacity from all U.S. colleges. We have about 20 colleges, a total enrollment of 700 students, and about 200 completers per year. OP-TEC’s mission is to “close the gap”. Our strategies are to restore some declining programs, increase enrollment in current programs, add programs in other colleges and prepare our colleges to retrain existing workers.

The “Y2 Accomplishments” in our report shows that we are increasing enrollment in existing programs (item 1). Two new programs are being added (item 6). We have also provided information and presentations that have resulted in 270 colleges interested in adding photonics and 26 colleges beginning the planning process (items 2-4). To help “build the high school pipeline” and to train incumbent workers, we have developed hybrid, online courses that will be piloted in Year 3 (item 12).

Early in Y3, we will conduct a new employer needs assessment to validate or change our earlier estimate of 1800 techs/year (item 3). We are currently working through the list of interested colleges to encourage and assist them to begin planning to add photonics; our staff and Partner Colleges are providing technical assistance to those colleges in the planning stages. Our goal is 20 more colleges (item 3). We will also begin retraining of incumbent workers (item 5).

OP-TEC staff and Partner Colleges cannot accomplish our mission without your assistance and cooperation. We value the excellent support we have received to date from our Employer Council, the technical and educational societies, other colleges/related organizations, and individuals and equipment suppliers. Your advice, contributions, donation of exhibit space and sharing of secondary school science/technology posters and career information products have all been used effectively—and are greatly appreciated. This year, we also began working with the Photonics Clusters. I anticipate that these relationships will become even more valued in Y3, as we provide more support and encouragement to colleges that are planning new educational programs.

We are also pleased to announce that we have received a supplemental grant to begin the process to establish college programs to educate/train Precision Optics Technicians. I will provide you more information about this critical initiative in the near future.

On behalf of the entire OP-TEC and our Partner Colleges, we thank you, again, for working with us and supporting our mission. We look forward to our continued partnerships with you as we enter this important and productive Year 3.

Please call or e-mail M.J. Soileau (OP-TEC’s CoPI for Employers and Technical Societies) or me anytime you have questions or suggestions.


Dan Hull
Director of OPTEC
The National Center for Optics and Photonics Education

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