Central Florida Roundup
Optics Tech Training
Valencia College is launching a 15-week accelerated training program in September to meet growing demand for skilled precision optics and photonics technicians in Central Florida.
The program will train students in optical fabrication — the process of producing lenses for industrial and military devices, equipment and systems — and optical assembly of lenses and wiring systems. They’ll also learn how to safely work with lasers in a testing environment as well as work with fiber-optic connections and sub-assemblies.
Optics are key components in everything from smartphones to the scanners in grocery store checkout lines to touch-less towel dispensers. The technology is also ubiquitous in the defense industry, with the military utilizing high-precision optics in a range of applications, from night vision goggles to surveillance systems to weaponry.
The Rochester-based American Center for Optics Manufacturing (AmeriCOM), a nationwide organization that works directly with the Department of Defense on workforce development, provided Valencia with the lab equipment for the program. The school also partnered with local employers to create the program.
At the end of their training, students will have the opportunity to earn three nationally recognized certifications to work as a precision optics technician, optics assembler or photonics technician. Starting pay in those fields ranges from $18 to $23 per hour.
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- Kelly Austin is now senior vice president for academic affairs and provost of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, replacing Lon Moeller, who stepped down from the position last year. Austin, who earned an MBA from the Daytona Beach school in 2004, most recently served as vice president and executive chancellor of Pennsylvania State University’s 20 undergraduate campuses.
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- Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida launched a pilot program to provide medically tailored meals to clients with kidney disease. Funded with a grant from the DaVita Giving Foundation, the pilot program aims to eventually serve patients with a variety of illnesses.
- Covenant House Florida, an Orlando non-profit that provides services to young adults who are homeless, closed its shelter and laid off nearly two dozen employees in July, according to a WARN notice filed with the state.
- WS Development, a Massachusetts-based developer, is now co-owner along with PGIM Real Estate of The Avenue in Viera, a 550,000-sq.-ft., open-air venue with more than 80 retailers and restaurants.
- The city of Eustis is partnering with the University of Central Florida to create a business incubator in the city’s downtown district to provide an array of support services and shared space for entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses.
- Port Canaveral, the state’s busiest cruise port, is planning to build a $175-million cruise ship terminal on the south side of the port where Bluepoints Marina currently operates. Port Canaveral CEO John Murray has said he will work with Bluepoints to relocate its facilities at the port and suggested there could be a reshuffling of other tenants. Port officials aim to open the new terminal in late 2026.
- SunRail, Central Florida’s commuter rail service, kicked off construction of a 12.2-mile expansion from the DeBary station to DeLand, which will be the 17th stop on the 61-mile train route. The $42.8-million project is slated for completion in 2024.