Central Florida faces a growing demand for precision optics technicians. Industry giants like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and L3Harris Technologies rely on technicians to help produce complex lenses for defense and national security systems. Other area optics manufacturers also have unfilled technician jobs as they produce precision lenses for everyday consumer applications. Now help is on the way. Valencia College in Orlando launched the inaugural cohort of its Precision Optics, Photonics, and Fiber Optics Technician training course which aims to have students job-ready in less than four months.

In cooperation with industry partners and AmeriCOM, Valencia College – Accelerated Skills Training program started the first Precision Optics, Photonics, and Fiber Optics Technician fifteen-week training course with sixteen student, and a waiting list for the spring session.

Sixteen students registered for the program from a variety of backgrounds including a pharmacy tech, a nurse, a chef, a Lockheed Martin employee, two Lockheed Martin family members, two veterans, a Disney security officer, and a 30-year veteran from the construction industry. The program began this month and is already at full capacity with a waiting list. Students are training on optics fabrication, optical assembly, photonics, and fiber optics. Upon completing the 15-week program, students can earn three nationally-recognized certifications and may be a qualified candidate for precision optics technician, optics assembler, or photonics technician jobs.

Valencia worked closely with AmeriCOM which purchased $1.2M in lab teaching equipment and provided counsel on lab design and curriculum. Industry partners including Lockheed Martin, LightPath, Ocean Insight, Critical Frequency, Jenoptik, and Chronos Photonics and other members of the Florida Photonics Cluster helped develop the program.