Photonics technology, harnessing light particles called photons, are in an increasing number of high-tech applications — from lidar in driverless cars to sensors, data centers, and high-speed communication. Now, three professional societies that have a strong focus on photonics — Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Photonics Society, the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE), and the Optical Society (OSA) — have each offered $75,000 to fund tuition for the first 15 students of a new photonics-technician program that Stonehill College and Bridgewater State University in southeastern Massachusetts will launch this summer, in collaboration with MIT’s Initiative for Knowledge and Innovation in Manufacturing, which leads the AIM Academy project, the education and workforce development initiative of the manufacturing institute AIM Photonics.
All three professional societies have collaborated on programs before, but have never worked together on technician training. They are, however, all acutely aware that their industry members have struggled to fill photonics technician jobs, and have thought about how they might address this need. “For photonics technologies to continue to grow, we need skilled technicians who can bring engineers’ vision to life,” notes SPIE CEO Kent Rochford. “SPIE is delighted to support students of this exciting photonics-technician program as a timely way to address technician shortages in photonics.”