NSF Helps Ten Colleges Create Training Center for LFO Technicians

NSF Helps Ten Colleges Create Training Center for LFO Technicians

12 September 2013

Laser and fiber optics (LFO) technicians in the southeast will soon be given the chance to improve their skills and expertise in a new training center to be established in Fort Pierce, Florida. The initiative is a joint effort of Valencia College and nine other colleges, which have been awarded $2.9 million in funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The goal of the center will be to train students in laser-fiber optics given the increasing need for professionals in the field both regionally and nationally.

At present the LFO industry is enjoying strong momentum and needs over 1,500 technicians every year. However, only 350 students graduate from local community colleges as technicians each year, which highlights the need to train more students to become LFO experts.

Thanks to the grant provided by the NSF, Valencia will join an alliance formed between the colleges taking part in the project and more than 250 companies that have teamed up to train more students in LFO in the southeastern region of the US.

The project will be headed by the Indian River State College (IRSC) and is intended to serve the LFO needs of several states, namely Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina and North Carolina. The other major partners in the project, in addition to IRSC and Valencia College, are the Florida Photonics Cluster, Central Carolina Community College of North Carolina, Tri-County Tech College of South Carolina and the Georgia Tech Research Institute.

Research and training activities at the 10 colleges will be coordinated by the Lasers and Fiber Optics Regional Center, which is based in IRSC's main campus in Fort Pierce. Thanks to the financing provided by the NSF, the participants will take part in a regional training program and create specializations for their LFO technician training initiatives, Industrial Laser Solutions reported. The funds will also be crucial for the creation of specialized laboratories across the colleges, to train faculty members and for student recruitment.