A modular laboratory curriculum with exercises for students and lesson plans for teachers is presented. Fundamentals of basic integrated photonic (IP) devices can be taught, first as a lecture-in-the-lab followed by “hands-on” laboratory measurements. This comprehensive curriculum utilizes data collected from the “AIM Photonics Institute PIC education chip” that was designed specifically for the purpose of education, and was fabricated at AIM SUNY Poly. Training using this modular curriculum will be performed through the AIM Photonics Academy network in New York (NY) and Massachusetts (MA), either as a full semester course or as a condensed boot-camp. A synergistic development and delivery of this curriculum will coherently leverage multiple resources across the network and can serve as a model for education and workforce development in other Manufacturing USA institutes, as well as for overseas partners.
Although demand for photonic technology is rapidly growing, there is a shortage of qualified workers to fill the industrial positions being created. At present, most photonics programs are available only at the graduate level; of the few undergraduate programs that exist, most are four-year engineering degrees. There is an unmet need for programs that can rapidly prepare students with minimal preparation to work as technicians in the optics and photonics industry. We report on a collaboration among Stonehill College, Bridgewater State University, and AIM Photonics Academy of MIT to create a unique photonics technician training and certification program that could serve as a template for other colleges or for other educational and manufacturing partnerships. This program, prepared with input from industry, consists of a mix of online, classroom, and lab courses (including both real-world and virtual experiments), with emphasis on hands-on experiences and apprenticeships with local companies. It is designed to rapidly develop practical skills in students who either have no prior technical background or who desire to quickly move into photonics from another technical area. The curriculum development model is modular, easily adapted across manufacturing sectors, focusing on skills sought by industry partners, with mechanisms in place for periodic feedback from employers. A clearinghouse for instructional materials will be created to house course outlines, syllabi, and teaching strategies for use by other institutions. Additionally, the curriculum will be sustained by making it “stackable” with other modules, training programs, and certifications aimed at other manufacturing specializations.