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.
After the introduction in 2001 of community college programs at the Photonics Technician/Technologist levels, the need to cover the photonics educational space at the undergraduate level was addressed. In the last year, three very different new undergraduate degrees in photonics have started to develop in Ontario. These programs are presented in this paper.
The Honours B.Sc. in Photonics at Wilfrid Laurier University (Waterloo) will develop a strong understanding of the theory and application of photonics, with practical hands-on exposure to optics, fibre optics, and lasers. This program benefits from the particularity that the department offering it combines both Physics and Computer Science.
At McMaster University, the Engineering Physics program will provide students with a broad background in basic Engineering, Mathematics, Electronics, and Semiconductors, as well as an opportunity to pursue Photonics in greater depth and to have that fact recognized in the program designation.
The Niagara and Algonquin College Bachelor of Applied Technology in Photonics program is co-op and joint between the two institutions. Emphasis is placed on the applied aspect of the field, with the more hands-on experimental learning taking precedence in the first years and the more advanced theoretical subjects following in the latter years.
In the last year, three very different new undergraduate degrees in photonics have started to develop in Ontario where none was available before. One is an Honours B.Sc. in Photonics, one is a Photonics Engineering degree and another is a Bachelor of Applied Technology in Photonics. This paper presents these programs.
Canada has established itself as a leader in photonics. Ontario in particular - home of giants such as JDS Uniphase, Nortel Networks, GSI Lumonics and an increasing number of successful start-up companies - has seen the demand for highly-qualified personnel in photonics grow exponentially in the past few years. The scarcity of these photonics experts has become - recent market woes not withstanding - the single most important impediment to the further growth of photonics companies. Nonetheless, it is mostly at the graduate school level that lasers and photonics are introduced to students, with only very few thus being trained in the field. Photonics Research Ontario has put together an aggressive plan to change this situation and present Optics, Lasers and Photonics at all levels in the education system, from grade school to graduate school. This paper will present this Photonics Education and Training plan, as well as other efforts being undertaken across Canada to address this crucial issue. The paper will focus especially on the training of Photonics Technicians and Technologists in Ontario's Community Colleges. The new curriculum designed for these programs will be presented, and the importance of industry support will be emphasized.