Launched in 2001, the Ontario Photonics Education and Training project (PET) has established an completely new Photonics Engineering Technician (2 years) and Photonics Engineering Technologist (3 years) programs at Niagara and Algonquin Colleges. The programs have now completed a full academic cycle at both colleges. This paper will review the history of the program, its collaborators, and industry climate changes. This paper will present recruitment statistics, which will include percentage uptake, student retention, and profiles of the student group. The first year’s intake was characterized by high achieving 'early adopters', including those with non-technical backgrounds and University converts. Lessons learned from recruitment and high school outreach activities will be discussed. We observe that 'photonics' is not a term recognized by the populace at large. An improved public understanding of the pervasive nature of electro-optic technologies in everyday life is desired. Curriculum highlights, recommendations; and the evolution of our facilities will be discussed. We will review employment and destination statistics of our graduates. Challenges for the future will be addressed, including the need for greater program visibility amongst regional photonics employers. In summary, the PET program has created an optics specialist with a practical skill-set that will fill the expertise gap that exists in traditional and non-traditional consumers of optical technologies.