Monroe Community College is set to receive millions in funding from the Department of Defense.

On Wednesday, New York Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as state Rep. Joe Morelle announced that a $5.1 million, three-year grant award will go to MCC because of it's position as one of the only community colleges in the country offering an optics and photonics associates degree. The money comes from the DoD Manufacturing Engineering Education Program and they say the training is vital to national security.

Previous funding for the program was set to expire this month. The money is expected to supply the resources necessary for the MCC programs to provide Rochester optics and photonics companies with the trained workers they need.

"The Rochester optics industry, which boasts well over 100 optics companies that employ 18,000 workers, relies on MCC to train the next generation of skilled optical workers it needs to grow," Schumer said. "MCC is a proven leader in optics and photonics training with one of the first and only associate degrees in optics training and today we are building on that success by connecting local Rochester and upstate New York students to good-paying Rochester jobs in this cutting-edge field."

“The longest-standing precision optics program in the United States, at Monroe Community College in Rochester, NY, led by Professor Alexis Vogt, is recognized around the country and around the world as the leading program of its kind," said Tom Battley, executive director of New York Photonics. "And the graduates have 100% job placement. Colleges around the country and precision optics manufacturers around the country are eager to learn how MCC does it. Precision optics are essential in everything from defense and biotech applications to satellites and quantum technologies."

Specifically, MCC will use the funding to grow enrollment for its programs and seek to establish new training and apprenticeship opportunities.