Photonics technology – the practical application of light – is one of the most pervasive and important new technologies of the twenty-first century. PHOTON addressed photonics education on a number of fronts. Of primary importance was increasing the number of teachers who had the knowledge and skills to teach photonics technology. Although ATE programs are focused on two-year colleges, PHOTON recognized that the pipeline of college students starts well before college admission, perhaps even before secondary school. For this reason, project PHOTON included middle and high school teachers as well as college faculty. This cross-grades collaboration resulted in the development of educational pathways in science education to help students achieve as they progressed through the educational system. Project PHOTON also included guidance counselors in the professional development workshops. Counselors gained new knowledge on available career options and provided outreach to students interested in math, science and technology careers.
A key feature of PHOTON was that schools needed to apply as regional educational alliances of at least one high school and one college, plus a middle school if possible. These alliances were successful at sharing knowledge and resources, strengthening connections with industry partners, and solving a variety of implementation problems.