Monday, March 12, 2012

OP-TEC provides lots of OP-portunity

The National Center for Optics and Photonics Education--known as OP-TEC--is a consortium of two-year colleges, high schools, universities, national laboratories, industry partners, and professional societies funded by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF's) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program. Located at the Center for Occupational Research and Development (CORD; Waco, TX), OP-TEC formed to meet the constantly growing need for technicians in optics and photonics, according to the organization.

OP-TEC serves secondary science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs and postsecondary programs devoted to lasers, optics, and photonics technologies. It provides support through curriculum, instructional materials, assessment, faculty development, recruiting, and support for institutional reform; offers teaching materials; encourages more schools and colleges to offer programs, courses, and career information; and helps high school teachers and community and technical college faculty members develop programs and labs to teach technical content.

The organization prides itself on its ability to bring optics and photonics outreach to people of different walks of life as well, again noting its overall goal of making the study of optics and photonics more widely accessible.

For more information, please visit

Friday, March 2, 2012

Start your business plan off with a 'bang'

UC Davis' Graduate School of Management (Davis, CA) hosts an annual competition, Big Bang!, to foster student entrepreneurship--perfect for photonics and biophotonics research and development (R&D).

Run by MBA students at the university, Big Bang! is an educational experience that begins in October and lasts until May each year. Teams consisting of various technical and business disciplines and/or mentors found in faculty, alumni, and other community professionals use the entire period to develop their business plan. During the period competitors have access to workshops that help to get their plans going, too.

It's surprising to see that more universities aren't doing this, especially with the surge of biophotonics R&D right now working towards smaller, cheaper devices and higher-resolution imaging techniques to save more lives. Helping to commercialize these technologies faster is key, and Big Bang! could help to make them known.

While it's too late to join this year's competition, keep it in mind for next year. For more information, please visit