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Program of Study: Laser/Photonics/Optics

Academic Division: Engineering, Math & Physical Sciences

Laser Optics

About the Program

Harnessing light: New Photonics Technician program to satisfy big job demand

From explosives detectors in airport security to blood tests that don't require a pin prick, light and lasers have hundreds of applications in daily life. The fascinating world of photonics (from the word, "photon," a unit of light) studies the science of light and its practical uses. CLC is the only community college in Chicagoland to offer a certificate program in this leading-edge field.

The 16-credit Optics and Photonics Certificate can be completed in two semesters, according to Steve Dulmes, instructor of computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) and chair of the photonics program. Technical courses include fundamentals of light, lasers, photonics and laser applications, AC and DC circuits, electronic lab techniques and technical math.

The college is offering the new program to fill a demonstrated need for photonics technicians in the Chicagoland area, Dulmes said. "There are several employers in the area that want approximately 100 people per year and the next closest school offering a photonics program is in Iowa."

Photonics technicians install and troubleshoot lasers, optical systems, fiber optic devices, telecommunications equipment, photonics manufacturing equipment and simple control systems.

Last year, the average salary was $55,000 for a person holding an associate degree, and the future of the career is bright, Dulmes added. "The field is growing so fast, the education system cannot keep up with the demand," he explained. "Most future technologies— energy, homeland security, green technologies and medical surgery and diagnostics— use light and lasers extensively. So, not only are you in demand, you will be in demand for many years to come."

Another two-year program, transferable to a four-year program, will begin no later than 2013.

Development of the program has been made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

For information, contact Steve Dulmes at (847) 543-2330 or at

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College of Lake County, 19351 West Washington Street, Grayslake, IL 60030-1198    (847) 543-2000