Indian Hills hosts laser optics training for educators across the country

Each year, Indian Hills hosts a two-day, hands-on training session for educators and specialists in the laser optics and photonics field.

The workshop is the capstone of a seven-month online course by the National Center for Optics and Photonics Education. Participants take the online course at their own speed and once it's complete, attend the laboratory experience in Ottumwa.

"It was highly recommended that I come to this because this is basically a great place for photonics instructors to start and get the initial feel for the subject matter and talk to people who have already been teaching it," said Brian Sweeney, an Engineering and Technology professor at Northwest Michigan College.

Sweeney said after visiting Indian Hills, he'll know what labs around the country can strive to be. The community college's labs are some of the most well-equipped in the country and the opportunity to interact with some of the educators in the field provides valuable experience.

"This is my second year, this is a great group and it's a great refresher for me," said Alice Sobczak, a laser technologist from New Mexico.

Sobczak encourages more and more women to get involved in careers like laser optics, robotics and photonics.

"There's so many jobs out there for women and this is one of the most exciting," she said."I love working with lasers and optics and there's so many opportunities within my own company, different things I can do, different areas I can work in."

Laser technology remains a rare field where the available jobs outnumber those able to fill them and Indian Hills has a 100% placement rate for their students in this program.