Enrique ‘Ricky’ Gomez joined the United States Navy in 2009, which helped him pay for college where he studied engineering. He enjoyed his time in the military, serving active duty for four years before enrolling in an associate degree program in engineering sciences. But when a friend suggested he take a job interview at a nearby company, Ricky unknowingly started on a new path– one that would utilize his military training and help benefit the Navy he proudly served.

Ricky says he didn’t know much about precision optics when he took an interview at Thorlabs in Newton, NJ in 2018. “I looked at the job description and did as much research as I could,” he said. His preparation helped land a position as a Thin Film Coating Technician. The job immediately appealed to him as he found parallels with his military experience.

“In deployment, when something goes wrong you have to be resourceful and solve problems. There is a strict attention to detail in military work that translates well when it comes to optics.”

Ricky Gomez

Ricky was already four semesters into his engineering program, but he knew he needed to make a change. He soon transferred to Sussex County Community College (SCCC) to study optics technology. He continued working full-time while attending school part-time to earn his associate degree. The decision has already paid off. He recently earned a “Team Lead” designation which he hopes will position him for more management responsibilities. 

Ricky works as a Thin Film Coating Technician at Thorlabs, Newton, NJ.

Meanwhile, Ricky continues to serve the Navy as a reservist. He works as a mechanic for construction equipment at Fort Dix one weekend a month, and is sent to another base two weeks a year. Ricky recognizes the military’s strong demand for precision optics. “I see optics systems all the time during my work as a reservist. All the lenses have coatings which ties back to my job,” he explained. 

Ricky admits he doesn’t often think about how his civilian optics career impacts the military he serves. But he says one similarity can’t be overlooked. “Military and optics are both very fulfilling,” Ricky said. “I like doing something where I feel I can contribute.”