IRSC to establish lasers and fiber optics training center for southeast US

Fort Pierce, FL - The National Science Foundation (NSF; Arlington County, VA) has awarded a prestigious, $2.9 million grant to Indian River State College (IRSC) to establish a highly sophisticated Lasers and Fiber Optics Regional Center to help meet the national need for skilled laser and fiber optics (LFO) technicians.

Related: Ten colleges win $2.9M grant to train laser technicians

In partnership with a network of 10 colleges and more than 253 companies, IRSC will lead the regional initiative to develop and deliver training in lasers and fiber optics throughout the southeastern US. Workforce projections identify a national need for over 1500 of these specialized technicians, while the present output of US colleges is about 350 each year. LFO technicians repair and maintain equipment that has a laser or fiber optic sensors, including medical equipment such as magnetic resonance imagers (MRIs), Internet and telephone processing systems, and industrial applications.

IRSC has a strong track record of training laser and fiber optics technicians, graduating 126 LFO technicians since 2005 and operating a highly successful Photonics Institute, which provides training in technologies applicable to biomedicine, life sciences, remote sensing, and information technology.

For the past eight years, IRSC has been a partner of OP-TEC, the NSF/ATE National Center for Optics and Photonics Education, in the development of training modules in optical imaging and solar energy technology. IRSC is also collaborating with Corning Fiber Optical Systems for training in the latest fiber-optic technologies.

Goals of the Lasers and Fiber Optics Center will include evaluation of the industry's training needs, creation of an Industrial Advisory Board, identification of LFO specializations at each partner college, development of training programs, outreach to middle and high school teachers, and recruitment of veterans and minorities for training. The Lasers and Fiber Optics Center will be based at the IRSC Brown Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Main Campus in Fort Pierce.

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