Michigan photonics cluster scholarships awarded by Baker College

Mi-Light announced that two $1500 scholarships have been awarded to students to pursue associate degrees in photonics and laser technology.

Mi-Light, the Michigan photonics industry cluster, announced that scholarships given to Baker College of Flint have been awarded to Roger Fischer and Dennis LaPorte. Each recipient has received a $1,500 scholarship to pursue an associate degree in photonics and laser technology.

Michelle Stock, Mi-Light chairperson said, “We appreciate the effort that has gone into developing the photonics and laser technology program at Baker College, and are pleased to provide scholarships to support its students.” The recipients were selected based on academic success and a one-page essay in which applicants identified three favorite photonics and laser applications.

Roger Fischer was drawn to study lasers because of their growing use in a wide variety of industries. He earned an associate degree in electronic technology at Baker College in 2013 and used the Mi-Light scholarship to complete the photonics and laser technology degree this summer. “In industrial manufacturing, lasers can cut, drill and mark a variety of materials. I’m fascinated by their use in holography, and the U.S. military is rapidly discovering new ways to harness the power of lasers for weaponry applications. It’s exciting to be in a field that is relatively new and expanding.”

New uses of photonics and lasers in medical applications attracted Dennis LaPorte to the program. He works at an animal health clinic maintaining the building systems and equipment, including a 20-W surgical laser. He personally experienced a non-invasive surgery, made possible by lasers, after which he drove himself home. The alternative surgery option would have required a long, painful recovery period. He noted a new use of lasers helping in the global fight against malaria--a quick laser pulse directed at the earlobe can detect malaria in the blood. Other areas in which LaPorte is interested are remote sensing by lasers that provides environmental information available on cell phones and the impact of lasers on the manufacturing industry.

Anca Sala, Baker College dean of engineering and computer technology, said she learned of the shortage of photonics technicians through a survey of more than 50 companies in southeast Michigan that work with photonics and lasers. In response to the research, Baker College launched the photonics and laser technology program 2013 fall quarter.

Sala said that the need for photonics technicians nationally is great. In 2012, the estimated number of graduates from existing U.S. educational programs would meet only about one-third of national need through 2017. In 2013, graduates averaged between three and four job offers, each with starting salaries of $40,000-$50,000.

Related article: Michigan photonics group awards scholarships, adds members

Related article:Technician education helps meet staffing needs of the photonics community

For more information about Baker College of Flint photonics and lasers program, contact Jodi Cuneaz in the admissions office at 810.766.4000 or jodi.cuneaz@baker.edu.

Source: Mi-Light

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