By Jane Sutter
Did you know that there is a worldwide shortage of workers for the optics industry? Monroe Community College is helping to fill that gap with its training programs.
At its March luncheon meeting at El Sauza restaurant, members of the Rochester Hispanic Business Association learned about what MCC offers from Alexis Vogt, endowed chair and associate professor of optics at MCC.
Tom Battley, executive director of NY Photonics/Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster, gave the group a short tutorial on how photonics is used in our daily lives, whether it be our smart phones or the back-up cameras in our cars. There are up to 150 companies in the Rochester cluster, with 17,000 employees. The businesses generate $3.5 billion per year in economic output.
Vogt, who runs the Optical Systems Technology program at MCC, said the college is the only community college in the country that is awarding an associate’s degree in optical systems technology. MCC also offers a one-year certificate in the same subject. Having the degree is often more attractive to employers, because it includes liberal arts courses, etc., and the degree makes the worker more promotable within the business, Vogt said.
The starting salary for a person graduating with a one-year certificate is between $15 to $18 per hour, Vogt said. The program currently has 72 students in it, and many of those are attending part time because they are working full time. Most of those who are graduating in the spring already have secured jobs, Vogt said. There is such a demand for workers that Vogt recently heard from a company in Germany.
There are also more than 200 high school students in the area who are taking an Introduction to Optics course in their high schools and receiving college credit from MCC. To succeed in studying optics, students need to have technical math skills – algebra, trigonometry and pre-calculus, Vogt said.
For more information on the MCC program, click here: www.monroecc.edu