2012 Summer Sizzler Highlights
Today marks the final day of the 2012 Summer Sizzler, an optics camp held at MCC for local area high school students. PLS' Michele Nichols Gleber joined a panel of optics industry experts to provide students with feedback and optics industry context as they presented their experiments.
- Building an LCD projector from a lens and LCD digital photo key chain
- Building an interferometer
- Using fiber optic cables as a light pipe to determine efficiency of light
- Creating 3-D images
Each year, the Rochester Regional Optics Cluster, Monroe Community College, area optics manufacturers and local high schools collaborate to broaden inner-city high school students’ career opportunities and help fill a predicted 450 coming new jobs.
This collaboration works with a population of students that many in the Rochester community have written off. Only 46% of Rochester city school students graduated on time this year, the lowest of any large city in the state. Eighty percent of city school students meet income requirements to qualify for free or reduced lunch programs. These are schools whose students need options, and this camp works to match them with businesses that need qualified workers.
Inspiring interest at the high school level serves both local businesses and students. As local optics companies continue to expand and increase capabilities, they demand a higher skill set from their workforce. The business and academic community in Rochester are working together to address the gap.
The students work with volunteers like Joshua Cobb, senior optical systems engineer at Corning Corporation and adjunct assistant professor at MCC, Jim VanKowenberg of Optimax, manufacturer of glass optics, and Jennifer Kruschwitz, consultant and adjunct professor at University of Rochester and University of Arizona. They will present their work to optics industry experts from companies like Bausch + Lomb, AccuCoat, and PLS Launch Solutions. Dozens of other optics businesses like Thor Labs donated equipment and funds.
RRPC Executive Director and camp organizer Tom Battley says, “We’ve had such strong support and success with the Summer Sizzler camp to date—now we’re working to scale it. Communities around the country are interested in following our model. While designed specifically to address the needs of Rochester’s optics industry, our program can be applied to any technical industry requiring middle-skilled workers.”