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STCC Optics and Photonics Professor Wins Award for Leadership

SPRINGFIELD — A Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) professor of Optics and Photonics Technology has joined 16 recipients from institutions worldwide in receiving awards and medals from the Optical Society (OSA).

The 2021 OSA prizes include the Esther Hoffman Beller Medal, which went to Nicholas Massa. According to a news release from the OSA, Massa was recognized “for outstanding leadership in photonics technician education, including the development and dissemination of innovative educational materials.”

Massa has taught at STCC since 1986, and has led the Optics and Photonics program since 1990.

“It’s an honor and privilege to be recognized by the OSA and be part of an esteemed group of colleagues dedicated to advancing the field of optics and photonics,” Massa said. “I’m proud to have helped prepare and inspire students to pursue careers in a rewarding and exciting field.”

Added STCC President John Cook, “we cannot thank Professor Massa enough for his significant stewardship of this program over many decades. To be recognized with this award is not only a testament to his investment in the field of optics and photonics, it is also a credit to the STCC mission, which has a distinctive technical and workforce focus.”

Geraldine de Berly, vice president of Academic Affairs at STCC, said Massa has dedicated his career to developing the Optics and Photonics program, the only one of its kind in the region. Students can pursue a two-year associate degree or one year certificate. The program prepares aspiring engineering technicians with knowledge and skills in lasers, optics, and electronics needed to design, test, and maintain complex optics and photonics systems.

“Dr. Massa inspires students and shares with them his passion for the program,” de Berly said. “He is to be congratulated on his work over the years, which has had a lasting impact on so many students. The award is well-deserved.”

The Optics and Photonics Technology program at STCC serves as a pathway into positions at high-tech companies throughout the region, including Coherent/Nufern, which makes optical fibers for telecommunications and high power fiber lasers used in industry and defense technology.

“For many years our Coherent locations in Connecticut have relied on Springfield Tech’s Optics and Photonics degree program to fill our job openings with well-trained and well-qualified employees,” said Meg Feinberg, Coherent representative. “STCC graduates not only have hands-on optical fiber handling and laser building skills, they understand the science behind these always-evolving technologies, which can lead to jobs with increasing responsibility and career opportunity.”

Massa joins an elite group of award and medal winners that include educators from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Lund University in Sweden, among other institutions throughout the U.S. and the world. Read the full list of recipients and their institutions at osa.org.

Massa’s award, the Esther Hoffman Beller Medal, was established in 1993 and is presented for outstanding contributions to education in optical science and engineering. Consideration is given to outstanding teaching, original work, or both in optics education that enhances the understanding of optics.

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