Save the dates: 27 January - 1 February 2024
Industry Event
AmeriCOM Panel: Where Have All the Technicians Gone? How Optics Ecosystems Are Bringing Them Back
1 February 2023 • 2:45 PM - 3:45 PM PST | Moscone Center, Expo Stage, Hall DE (Exhibit Level) 
Precision optics manufacturing companies across the U.S. are suffering from a critical shortage of technicians. The U.S. Department of Defense sees this as a threat to national security and charged the American Center for Optics Manufacturing – AmeriCOM – to fulfill a dual mission: Use an ecosystem model to increase the number of optics technicians and transition mission-critical precision optics technologies from research into sustainable manufacturing technologies. In this session, a panel of optics ecosystem collaborators from industry, education, and nonprofit sectors will discuss how their partnership with AmeriCOM is raising awareness of the optics industry and building back the technician workforce.

The goal for this one-hour session is to build support for the AmeriCOM mission by sharing progress that AmeriCOM has made with regard to our workforce development efforts related to the recruitment of optics technicians. We will highlight, in particular, the role that optics companies, together with community colleges and other partner organizations, play as key members of a precision optics ecosystem. An AmeriCOM staffer will serve as the moderator of a panel discussion that will include representatives from the educational, corporate, nonprofit, and government sectors. The presentation would begin with an explanation of Optics Ecosystems and the role each member of it plays. Members of the panel will then introduce themselves, followed by a moderator-led discussion.


Navid Entezarian
Navid Entezarian
Business Development Manager
Thorlabs Inc. (United States)
Navid Entezarian is the Optics Business Development Manager for Thorlabs where he has worked for more than 10 years. During his tenure in production management, Entezarian led the development of novel processes for manufacturing Axicons lenses, CaF2, and MgF2 optics. He also helped write the curriculum for the optics technology program at Sussex County Community College (SCCC) and is working with AmeriCOM to establish similar optics programs in community colleges across the country. Entezarian graduated Magna Cum Laude from the New Jersey Institute of Technology with a B.S. in applied physics.

Amanda Meier
Amanda Meier, Ph.D.
Program Director and Faculty, Optics Technology Program
Front Range Community College (United States)
Amanda Meier, Ph.D. is the Program Director and Faculty for the Optics Technology Program housed at the Center for Integrated Manufacturing on the Front Range Community College (FRCC) Boulder County Campus in Longmont, CO.  Her work with local and national firms, including the Colorado Photonics Industry Association (CPIA) where she serves on the Executive Board of Directors, positions the program very well to deepen industry relationships and support program growth.  Dr. Meier is also active in several professional organizations and received the Women in Optics Planner Award for 2019/20 from SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. Dr. Meier has previously worked as a Staff Scientist at Areté Associates in Longmont, CO on laser and lidar research and development and a Principal Engineer at Spectra-Physics in Santa Clara, CA on high power laser product development. She earned her Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Colorado School of Mines in Golden, CO, with extensive laboratory experience in building ultrafast laser systems and diagnostics. 

Alexis Vogt
Alexis Vogt, Ph.D.
Workforce and Higher Education Executive Director
AmeriCOM - the American Center for Optics Manufacturing (United States)
Alexis Vogt, Ph.D. serves as Executive Director of Workforce and Higher Education at AmeriCOM. Dr. Vogt is also a tenured professor of optics and the endowed chair of the Optical Systems Technology program at Monroe Community College (MCC), the first college worldwide to award associate degrees in precision optics. In her first five years at MCC, Dr. Vogt secured over $6 million USD for the program. Prior to joining MCC, Dr. Vogt worked in the optics industry as Applications & Business Development Manager at Melles Griot (IDEX) and previous to that, designed contact lenses and intraocular lenses for Bausch + Lomb. In addition to her industry experience, Dr. Vogt holds three patents and has authored hundreds of papers, presentations, and publications in the field, including the definitions of "light" and "polarization" for World Book Encyclopedia. Dr. Vogt received her B.S. as well as her Ph.D. in Optics from the Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester where her research focused on polarization engineering, coherence theory, and microscopy.

Tom Battley
Tom Battley
Vice President Government and Partnerships
AmeriCOM - the American Center for Optics Manufacturing (United States)
Tom Battley is Vice President Government and Partnerships for AmeriCOM, where he is responsible for creating regional industrial workforce development ecosystems throughout the U.S. to serve as precision optics educational centers and manufacturing training sites. He also oversees the national outreach campaign to raise awareness of optical technician career opportunities. Battley is also Executive Director of New York Photonics Cluster (NYPC), the largest cluster of its kind in the United States, comprising more than 120 companies employing 24,000+ people. In this role, he worked with the American Precision Optics Manufacturers Association (APOMA), and Rochester’s congressional delegation, and the U.S. Department of Defense, to co-lead the establishment of AmeriCOM. Prior to his work with the cluster, Battley served as Monroe County Economic Development Director and participated in $2.4 billion in business investment in the greater Rochester, NY community-- including major technology investments in optics, biotechnology, telecommunications, and advanced manufacturing.

Mike Hyman
Mike Hyman
Director of Technology
Optimax (United States)
Mike Hyman is the Director of Technology at Optimax, a high precision optics manufacturer, in Ontario, NY. Leading Optimax’s technology development for advanced applications and supporting optical components and optical solutions, Hyman is responsible for forging Optimax’s next generation high-precision optics manufacturing and metrology solutions. Hyman has served in many roles during his near 20-year career at Optimax, including hands-on optics manufacturing as an Optician in all of Optimax’s manufacturing departments, Manufacturing Engineer, Metrology Engineer, Manufacturing Group Leader, and Director of the Laser Grade Optics Business Unit. Hyman serves on the Board of the RTMA (Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association) and supports outreach or workforce development activities in the Rochester community. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Manufacturing Engineering Technology and master’s degree in Mechanical Manufacturing Systems Engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).

Josanne DeNatale
Josanne DeNatale
National Marketing and Workforce Development Operations Director
AmeriCOM - the American Center for Optics Manufacturing (United States)
Josanne DeNatale is National Marketing and Workforce Development Operations Director at AmeriCOM. She is responsible for the organization's brand identity and for developing strategic marketing campaigns to raise awareness of the optics industry and the many career pathways it supports. As operations director, she coordinates the activities associated with the evaluation and onboarding of a community college to serve as the hub of an AmeriCOM optics ecosystem. Previously, DeNatale was president and co-founder of Cognitive Marketing Inc, a brand development and strategic marketing consultancy based in Rochester, NY that serves universities, colleges, independent schools, educationally oriented nonprofit organizations, and economic development initiatives across the country. DeNatale serves as chair of the Board of Advisors of the Horizons Student Enrichment Program at The Harley School of Rochester. DeNatale has also served as an advisor to the Center for Student Opportunity and their I’m First ( initiative and the Rochester College Access Network (RCAN) of the Rochester Education Foundation.