CONGRESSMAN MORELLE ANNOUNCES $4.4 MILLION GRANT TO BOLSTER WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT TRAINING IN PRECISION OPTICS
(Rochester, NY) – Today, Congressman Joe Morelle announced that Monroe Community College (MCC) has been awarded a $4.4 million grant by the Office of Naval Research for their Defense Engineering Education Program in Optics (DEEP OPS). This program will increase the national optics workforce through innovative training programs that will prepare students for these high-demand jobs that support the Department of Defense.
“I’m so pleased that MCC has been awarded this significant grant which will leverage their unique assets to help fill high-demand jobs in the optics field,” said Rep. Morelle. “With 98% of these jobs currently going unfilled in our region, it’s more important than ever that we strengthen our workforce development initiatives and help students prepare for the jobs of tomorrow. I’m grateful to the Office of Naval Research for their support and congratulate MCC on this outstanding opportunity that will help cement our community’s place as a leader in high-tech fields.”
“The grant allows MCC to strengthen our region’s optics workforce and help fulfill growing demands for skilled technicians in the defense critical field of applied optics,” said MCC President Anne M. Kress. “With federal support, we will expand our programs and apprenticeship network to attract more students, especially those from underserved populations, to optics education and careers. We are grateful to Congressman Morelle and Senators Schumer and Gillibrand for their support in securing this grant.”
MCC is the nation’s only community college awarding associate degrees in precision optics—but they do not yet produce enough precision optics graduates to meet the annual demand. In 2019, 12 MCC graduates entered the optics industry to fill an annual demand of 574 technicians in the Finger Lakes area, leaving 98% of Upstate New York skilled optics technician job openings unfilled.
This grant award will support the efforts of the DEEP OPS program to expand enrollment in precision optics fields through innovative training initiatives. During its initial three-year period, this program will impact a minimum of 3,000 high school
students, college students, apprentices, and incumbent workers and will provide professional development to high school teachers and MCC faculty. In addition, DEEP OPS will establish 150 apprenticeships and 30 industry sponsors to help build greater community awareness of these career opportunities.