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MPEC | Midwest Photonics Education Center



Midwest Photonics Education Center
Ottumwa, IA

Greg Kepner
MPEC Director
(641) 683-5824

MPEC Colleges Provide Photonics Technician Education

Students learn about lasers, geometric optics, physical optics, electronics, mechanical optics alignment, laser applications and analysis, and CNC laser programming. MPEC programs emphasize hands-on activities with industrial lasers, optical components, beam analyzers, and spectrum analyzers. Students learn to assemble, install, operate, calibrate, repair, maintain, and test laser systems and optical equipment in a variety of applications.

With its partner colleges, MPEC is expanding and improving technician education by building on Indian Hills Community College’s (IHCC) 28 years of experience educating technicians. IHCC has nearly 100% job placement. Its 554 photonics graduates have launched careers at 135 companies in 36 states.

MMPEC Prepares Technicians that Industry Values

The technology of photonics utilizes lasers and optics in advanced manufacturing, health sciences, communications, homeland security, construction, military, research, and other applications. A survey by three ATE centers estimates US demand for new photonics technicians will be 823 annually through 2017. Currently, the ratio of jobs to photonics graduates is 5:1.

To meet Midwest employers’ needs, MPEC facilitates the expansion of photonics programs in its nine-state network of community colleges and high schools. Nine MPEC-partner institutions now offer the comprehensive technical and life skills that employers seek in photonics technicians. They accomplish this by utilizing the recommendations of their industry advisory committees to guide program and curriculum development. MPEC educators’ contact with industry experts keeps them up to date about the skills and knowledge that students need to become successful employees.

MPEC educators also learn from each other. For example, MPEC-partner Wright State University shares its expertise in laser applications for micromachining and additive manufacturing. Education and industry partners share insights to improve instruction of life skills such as teamwork, problem solving, and dependability.