College students aren’t the only ones taking on the growing optics and photonics industry. High school students are getting in on the action, too. East School is the only high school in the country with its own precision optics lab. Time Warner Cable News reporter Jamiese Price has more on how students are learning the exact skills that employers are looking for.
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Students in Paul Conrow’s science class are getting an edge on photonics. The precision optics program director is gearing up the next generation of learners for a growing industry.
“Photonics is coming to Rochester and optics has been here for 100 years,” said Conrow.
A part of that equation is a ready work force.
“My passion, my mission in this photonics initiative is to really give students in East High School an advantage where they can come in and learn the skills,” he continued.
Those skills are obtained through textbooks and through hands on experience. Students like Blake Arce are using machinery and equipment that’s identical to what‘s out there in the workforce. The Precision Optics Lab is funded through a stem grant shared with only two other schools in the state.
“It’s giving me a really big edge,” said Arce.
That edge and excitement came with some hesitation.
“It looked really complicated to me. I saw all the buttons and switches and I thought I was going to fail this class,” said Arce.
He quickly got the hang of things and now its second nature. Arce and other students enrolled in the program are creating lenses that you would see in a telescope, magnifying glass and a camera.
Conrow said they hope to take it a step further.
“We’re trying to make kits out of the lenses so that we can have East High Optics Kits that we can be marketed to other high schools or other schools in the area that want to teach an optics unit that want to use higher optics materials,” said Conrow.
This is the fourth year of the program and this year is the first time that included a part two of the course. Conrow said they're working to bring on a third and fourth year level course.
“I think it’s an everybody wins. Students get trained ready for the workforce and potential employers will have a pool of ready candidates who can go to work and start on day one,” said Conrow.
“I’ve seen how it works and how to handle everything and it’s given me a big edge. Just being a head of a lot of people and that makes me feel good,” said Arce.