Daily News

STCC Celebrates National Engineers Week

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) celebrated National Engineers Week on Feb. 18-24 with events to inspire students, including a discussion about laser applications from an industry leader.

Andrew Held, recently retired vice president at Coherent Inc., addressed students, faculty, and staff in the optics and photonics classroom on Feb. 21. His presentation highlighted how high-powered lasers can be used in military defense applications. Coherent makes optical fibers for telecommunications and high-power fiber lasers used in industry and defense technology.

The optics and photonics technology program at STCC involves the practical application of light, optics, and electronics. The community-college program is the only one of its kind in the region. STCC is the only technical community college in Massachusetts.

Held said students who graduate with a two-year associate degree in optics and photonics are in demand in the job market. “You need technicians. They are super valuable. For every engineer we hire, we need 10 technicians.”

In a slide presentation, Held demonstrated how laser technology can be used in a country’s defense. Lasers can take down cruise missiles and drones. He explained how the atmosphere can limit a laser’s effectiveness. For example, a laser is not as effective on the surface of an ocean as it is in the upper atmosphere.

About 30 people attended Held’s presentation, including Melishia Santiago, assistant dean of STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, and math.

“We should have more of these types of events,” Santiago said. “I believe exposure to industry leaders like Dr. Held is invaluable for our students’ academic and professional development. Having experts from various fields share their insights and experiences not only enriches our curriculum, but also provides students with real-world perspectives that can’t always be captured in a classroom.”

Other events held during Engineers Week 2024 included open houses for some of STCC’s engineering programs, including electrical engineering technology, engineering transfer, and mechanical engineering technology. The event was sponsored by HSI STEM at STCC and the STEM Starter Academy.