Opportunities in Optics: 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, Classroom Building, FRCC-Boulder County Campus, 2121 Miller Drive, Longmont

From your LED alarm clock that wakes you up to your TV remote that keeps you on the couch when you change channels, optics technology is all around you.

Checking out at the grocery store? Optics. Paying with a credit card? Optics.

What is Optics?

Optics is a branch of physics, but don’t let that scare you. It involves the behavior and properties of light. Light you can see, like the light-emitting diode (LED) on the face of your alarm clock, to the light you don’t see, like the infrared light on your remote control.

If optics is a branch of physics, photonics is a branch of engineering. It involves generating, detecting, and manipulating light.

Taken together, optics and photonics has application in industry, military, and space exploration, among other sectors.

Optical Technologies are Everywhere.

The bar code scanner at your grocery. The hologram on your credit cards. Your glasses or contacts lenses. Your smartphone. Microscopes. Telescopes. Binoculars. Cameras. Some of the technology in your car.

The Optics Industry in Colorado

Start with the Colorado Photonics Industry Association (CPIA). In a 2016 report, CPIA found there were more than 250 companies employing more than 8,000 people in activities spanning manufacturing, wholesale trade, and professional, scientific, and technical services. About 85 percent of the companies employed fewer than 50 people.

There also are multinational companies with Colorado locations that also employ workers with some knowledge of photonics.

These companies small or large are in aerospace, aviation, defense, computers and semiconductors, communications, bioscience, and other industries.

Northern Colorado the Epicenter of Colorado’s Optics Industry

Almost a quarter of Colorado companies involved in this industry are in Boulder. Longmont and Fort Collins account for another 20 percent.

In the search category that includes photonics technicians, the Colorado Department of Labor forecasts 170 job openings per year for the foreseeable future.

Optics Technology Certificate at FRCC

With northern Colorado having so much of this industry, it makes sense to have our Optics Program at the Advanced Technology Center at the Boulder County Campus.

This certificate will prepare for entry-level positions in the production of precision optics used in cameras, projectors, eye wear, microscopes, appliances, and binoculars. You will learn techniques to produce precision spherical and plane optics to specifications correct lens/prism surfaces, and fabricate optics for multiple uses.

You can choose to follow the recommended one-year fast track or determine a more flexible schedule.

Upon completion of the program, you will be qualified for occupations including laser technician, optics technician, and electronics technician. Crossover skills may qualify you for other occupations, too.

Who Should Enroll in Optics Technology?

Answer these questions:

  • Do you enjoy figuring out how something works?
  • Do you like fixing things?
  • Are you action-oriented?
  • Do you like hands-on learning and work?
  • Are you interested in how spaces are laid out and designed?
  • Would you enjoy the variety of working alone and on teams?

If you answer yes to most of these questions, it’s time to get started on a great career. Contact George Newman, Optics Program director, at george.newman@frontrange.edu.

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