Coherent and Cañada College Create Photonics Certificate Program

Discover how our partnership with Cañada College is helping to train the next generation of laser technicians

December 7, 2021 by Coherent

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The invention of the microprocessor unlocked a new era of human development; no aspect of our lives is untouched by it. However, the time has come to look beyond electrons.

The development of lasers has opened the next wave of invention, and the impact of photonics on telecommunication, scientific discovery, life sciences, manufacturing, and much more is undeniable. Megatrends in communications, 3D sensing, battery electric vehicles, energy, manufacturing, aerospace, and defense, as well as life sciences all depend on continued advancements in photonics and, to an equal degree, professionals trained in photonics, optics, and sensors.

At Coherent, we believe that a healthy photonics industry depends on a steady supply of trained technicians in these specialized skills. There are over 500 laser industry job openings per year in Silicon Valley alone, yet just a handful of training programs exist in this field. We partnered with Cañada College in Redwood City, CA to create a training program for people at the beginning of their career or looking for a change of career. 

Creating a training program for laser technicians

California community colleges offer academic and vocational instruction for all students. In addition to the primary education mission, community colleges exist to advance California’s economic growth and global competitiveness through education and continuous workforce improvement. Training the next generation of photonics specialists and technicians creates jobs and fuels economic growth in California.

Recently, Coherent partnered with Cañada College in Redwood City, Calif. to create a training program for photonics and laser technicians.

The Photonics and Laser Technology (PALT) program will award Certificates of Achievement to students who complete the training in industry-related science and engineering principles of the fields of photonics and laser technology. Photonics courses in a postsecondary college curriculum in related technologies can qualify graduates for a far wider variety of jobs and increase the global competitiveness of the workforce.

“A major challenge for Coherent is to find employees for R&D and Operations that are trained in the field of optics and lasers,” said Dr. Norman Hodgson, VP of Technology and Advanced Research at Coherent, Inc. “Companies across industries have open positions for technicians and graduates of this program will qualify for high-paying career opportunities.”

Coherent will donate lasers and equipment for the laboratory, provide experts for hands-on training. In addition to the work on campus, Coherent will offer on-site visits at our locations and the opportunity for internships to students in the program.

“Cañada College features a diverse range of certificate programs, and we are very excited to partner with Coherent to create a new certificate in a growing industry that will prepare students for new career opportunities,” said Dr. Tammy Robinson, Vice President of Instruction at Cañada College. “Cañada College, and the California community college system, is committed to training students for rewarding careers in growth industries that increase California’s global competitiveness as a job creator.”

The program consists of 18 units of classroom education in math, science, and engineering. Upon Completion of Certificate requirements, students will be able to apply knowledge to solve photonics and optics problems, communicate effectively as team members, design and perform tests, analyze data and prepare findings, and apply skills and modern tools necessary for optics and photonics engineering practice.

“It’s critically important that community colleges invest more in developing short-duration training programs like PALT that provide students—from recent high school grads to seasoned professionals looking to reskill—a shorter route to a family-sustaining career,” says Dr. Ameer Thompson, Dean of Science and Technology at Cañada College. “We believe this partnership with Coherent can serve as a model for other schools.”

Coherent is excited to partner with Cañada College on the PALT program and looks forward to preparing a new generation of technicians for careers in the photonics industry.

Learn more about the PALT program. 

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