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      Educators gather at Indian Hills to learn about a growing field

      Educators and professionals from across the United States and Mexico gathered at Indian Hills this week to get hands-on training in laser optic technology.

      The participants took an online course and came to the Hills campus to conclude with two days of hands-on training in the Advanced Technology department's laser lab. The point of the class and experiments is to teach the value of laser optics, so that more students can become involved in studying laser technology.

      "Part of my job is to teach new laser users, fresh out of college or tech school, how to work safely with lasers," said Alice Sobczak, a laser technologist from New Mexico. "This training gives me the experience of being the student, so I can apply what I'm learning here and understand their perspective as a new laser user."

      A survey of United States employers done by the University of North Texas Survey Research Center found that there will be a need for over 1,000 jobs in laser technology over the next five years. The use of the technology is growing, and so is the need for jobs in the field.

      "Everything we do in these modern times involves lasers, you can find lasers in medical places, you can find lasers in industry," Sobczak said. "Lasers are so awesome, to have that power and understand how they work, and the applications these days are just everywhere around us. Go into lasers and the study of lasers and photonics and you will always have a job and you'll make a lot of money."

      At Indian Hills alone, job placement is at 100%, with over 90 job opportunities offered to just a dozen or so students, making laser technology a rare field where the job opportunities outnumber graduates.