Laser eye safety is one of the most important topics covered in any laser curriculum. Before students begin working hands-on with laser labs, it is extremely critical for students to understand safe methods to observe when using and operating lasers. Since the eye is the most vulnerable body part to laser energy damage, it is important for students to have a good understanding of how the eye may be damaged by laser energy, and how to protect it from laser energy. Typically, students studying laser safety learn about laser eye safety by studying parts of the eye, wavelength relationships with damage to different eye parts, magnification relationships, and interacting irradiance levels and wavelengths. The curriculum material and tools generally used by students studying laser eye safety only involves ANSI standards, technical explanations, pictures and equations. Central Carolina Community College and LASER-TEC have developed a Laser Safety Eye Lab to provide students an additional learning tool for studying this topic. The lab includes the use of a sheep eye for demonstrating the interactions between various parts of the eye and different aspects of laser energy, including coherence, irradiance, with respect to wavelength variations. This lab will provide students a hands-on learning experience of all the important interactions of the eye and laser energy relative to laser eye safety.
Visible and near-infrared spectroscopy is growing at a very fast in many areas, including forestry, medical, agriculture, defense, homeland security and food safety. Raman spectroscopy is also experiencing strong growth, because of its high sensitivity in detection of atmospheric molecules, bomb detection, and early detection of cancer. These growing applications have resulted in increased spectrometer sales, and increased demand for technical talent. This technical talent growth includes a higher demand for photonics/laser technicians in the field of spectroscopy. To help better prepare graduates of the laser and photonics technology program, Central Carolina Community College, funded by the NSF ATE LASER-TEC grant, developed a module on “Advanced Spectroscopy” for inclusion in the “Laser Applications II” course, to complement the existing “Basic Spectroscopy” module. The “Advanced Spectroscopy” module’s focus is Raman Spectroscopy. Due to the high cost of Raman spectrometers, the module lab did not include a hands-on portion. Recently, Wasatch Photonics has developed a Raman spectrometer for educational lab use. Students learn from handson assembly, alignment and calibration about the internal working of the spectrometer. During the spectrometer lab, students may also use different gratings and light sources. During this session, LASER-TEC Co-PI Gary Beasley, Central Carolina CC, and Chrys Panayiotou, LASER-TEC PI will demo the spectrometer. A copy of the presentation will be shared with all participants.
The International Year of Light 2015 was designed to raise awareness of light sciences. In order to raise awareness, events were encouraged to get the public involved. Both Central Carolina Community College (CCCC) and Indian River State College (IRSC) held a total of three lectures in 2015 celebrating the IYL 2015. IRSC hosted lectures on March 6th and June 11th. CCCC hosted a lecture on November 17th. These lectures drew a total of over 400 attendees. Lectures revolved around their own unique themes relating to light sciences in industry and academia. With great support from Laser-Tec, SPIE, and NSF, these lectures were successful at exposing and advertising the optics field to the public, as well as promising up-and-coming students. These lectures hosted several keynote speakers on behalf of both industry and academia. The speakers were successful at keeping the audience engaged through presentations and question-and-answer sessions. In addition, lab tours allowed the attendees a chance to see the programs in action. Many takeaways will prove to be invaluable when pursuing such events in the future. This paper will not only speak to the tremendous success of these lectures, but will take an honest look at the areas for improvement. It is important to note that independent events can be held for the expansion of local programs leading to national, if not global, increase in communal awareness and participation. These events will serve as a continuation for what the IYL 2015 was designed.
This paper describes different methods used in the classroom and lab to teach photonics technology students to think. When students transcend from the classroom to the work environment, they must be able to think and problem solve without a teacher, instructor, or professor holding their hand during problem solving. There are many ways that can be used in the classroom to teach students to think. The methods discussed in this paper range from using thought provoking questions during lecture, to "full blown" project based learning methods, such as "Problem Based Learning".
The successful completion of two-year AAS photonics technician programs requires a working knowledge of certain mathematics skills. This paper identifies those key skills and describes available learning materials - titled Mathematics for Photonics Education - developed as a review and study guide to help students strengthen their mathematics abilities. The learning materials are supported by diagnostic assessments designed to help identify areas of mathematics weakness and thereby indicate corrective procedures. The paper concludes with evidence from the field concerning the use and effectiveness of the diagnostic test and learning materials.