ROCHESTER, NY, June 2, 2016 – New York Photonics has awarded two $6,000 grants to schools in the Rochester region. The schools, Gates-Chili High School and Greece Olympia High School, both teach a dual-credit optics course with Monroe Community College’s Optical Systems Technologies program.

The grants will be used to support optics labs at the discretion of the optics and career education teachers at the schools.

Gates-Chili teacher Donna Smith plans to use the money to match a grant from the Corning Inc. Foundation to buy computers and lab equipment for her classroom. Smith began teaching optics in 2011 and participated for three years in the “Optics Summer Sizzler Camp” hosted at MCC.


Donna Smith, Gates Chili Physics Teacher receives her award from Tom Battley, New York Photonics Executive Director

Greece Olympia High School will use its grant to write curricula and develop career pathways. According to Kathy Richardson, coordinator of college, career and student achievement, Greece Olympia now teaches two dual-credit MCC optics courses including Introduction to Optics.

Students from both schools are able to enter the MCC Optical Systems Technology Program with credits earned while in high school.

Tom Battley with Kathy Richardson, Coordinator, College, Career & Student Achievement, Greece Olympia High School

Tom Battley with Kathy Richardson, Coordinator, College, Career & Student Achievement, Greece Olympia High School

According to SPIE, the International Society for Photonics, the worldwide market for core optics and photonics components was $182 billion in 2014 and employed 863,000 people.. This core market underpins a variety of industries valued in total at $1.45 billion, serving consumer electronics and entertainment, defense and law enforcement, biophotonics and healthcare, among others.

“These two schools, led by these educators, were early adopters of dual-credit optics and photonics education with the MCC program,” said Tom Battley, executive director of New York Photonics. “They recognize the extraordinary career opportunities available in the optics, photonics and imaging industry. They get students excited about the science and help students and their families identify the career pathways.”

“The photonics cluster has offered similar grants in the past,” said Michael Naselaris, Director of Business & Corporate Development of Sydor Optics. “Jim Sydor, our CEO, is a graduate of the MCC program and wants to see the program continue to thrive.  Member companies in the Cluster make substantial investments in time and money to promote optics education in Rochester.”

Alexis Vogt, Associate Professor and Chair of Optics at MCC noted that Rochester is the birthplace of Optics in America.  There continue to be many job openings for Optics technicians both locally and nationally.  “We are looking for more students to pursue Optics here at MCC and Gates-Chili and Greece Olympia are integral in helping drive enrollment to create more opportunities for students.”

Naselaris agrees.  “There is nation-wide demand for technicians with a two-year degree from MCC’s optics program, and parents can save quite a bit of money when their kids choose to do a 2+2 program with optics or photonics at MCC followed by the second two years at RIT or University of Rochester.”

Battley credited Naselaris with leading fundraising efforts throughout the year that enable New York Photonics to make charitable grants to promote workforce education in this promising industry, identified by New York state as a key pillar of upstate revitalization.

About the RRPC

The Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster (RRPC) is a not-for-profit organization founded to promote and enhance the New York State Optics, Photonics and Imaging industry by fostering the cooperation of business, academia and government.

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact New York Photonics Executive Director Tom Battley at (585) 329-4029 or email at

Explore posts in the same categories: Education & Training, New York Photonics, New York State Optics, NYPhotonics, Optics

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