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Thread: A Career Playing with Lasers

  1. #1
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    Default A Career Playing with Lasers

    This lounge is probably full of men who've made careers working (playing?) with lasers and laser light. The traditional path to working with lasers is through a physics or electrical engineering degree, but that can't be the only path. My own career as a holographer started with the Laser Electro-Optics Technology program at Vincennes University, a 2-year program for an AS degree (I never completed). I think all the LEOT programs have been shut down though.

    I'm wondering what advice one would give to the youth of today wanting to work with laser, but more specifically visible laser light. Is there an educational path to becoming a laserist? Is there an art school that incorporates laser light as a medium? Are there any apprenticeships or internships available? I'm thinking about those who don't want to go through 4 to 6 years of education and its attendant outrageous debt.

  2. #2
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    I'm not sure about educational programs, I came to it through having been a fire alarm systems engineer, but I am also focused much more on the technical than the artistic side. We do do internships, largely because this is such an odd offshoot field that naturally requires a lot of "on the job" training anyway.

    Best advice I can figure is try, try , try. Produce content and projects. I know we're a lot more likely to hire people with something more to show than just a degree.

  3. #3
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    If your willing to relocate, the theme parks here in Orlando use lasers in the rides and during the fireworks at night. It's a great place to get some hands on experience and a little money at the same time. When I say a little money I mean it. You won't get rich but you will learn a lot. It's better to get paid a little to learn than pay a lot to learn right?

    I have work with two of the three parks here in and capped out my pay in just a few years so I jumped ship and worked for a company making military range finders then skipped over to the medical side where I am now. I wouldn't have been able to do that without my degree though. I have a Bachelors in Electronics and have been playing with lasers since I was 16.
    Last edited by Lazerjock; 06-19-2013 at 06:46.

  4. #4
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    Lightbulb

    Hey Bob -

    Thouroughly-second all the comments re: 'shadowing' or interning.. I gleaned much / polished my chops sidelining with Stone Mountain Lasers, back in the day... No real 'Laser Show U's, that I'm aware of.. Where are these 'youths' located? Asking, to (based on location..) possibly recommend the nearest 'large-Co install / operation' they at least might be able to 'check with'...

    fwiw..
    j
    ....and armed only with his trusty 21 Zorgawatt KTiOPO4...

  5. #5
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    " 15 characters"
    Last edited by Laser Wizardry; 11-13-2015 at 11:27.

  6. #6
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    The physics degree path better still be a good option!
    I noticed the last masters year has a small course called "lasers"... that's enough motivation for me xD

  7. #7
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    mixedgas is offline Creaky Old Award Winning Bastard Technologist
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    I'd say pick up some college, so a research university or laser cutting business will pick you up for real work later. Interning for Disney, wonderful, but slots are rare. Lab and Industrial Lasers require plumbing, electrical, electronics, servos for motion, programming, Labview, and purchasing skills.
    Not to mention the ability to write coherently.

    I work outside my degree field, and its difficult to get a job when you don't have the qualifications, even if you do have the experience. Techies don't hire, married women in offices who read resumes all day do most hiring these days. They do it, or third party recruiting firms like Adeco or Kelly do. Most can't evaluate your skills based on what you list on the resume. Fifthteen years after college, I'm still explaining why I have a education degree, when I try to get hired. In most cases, the hiring software rejects you based on this alone.

    My last university gig came through Kelly, with the nasty caveat that if the client wish to hire you permanently, within a year and a half, they need to fork over about 10K$ to Kelly. 10K is more then enough to encourage the choice of some one less skilled.


    Steve
    Qui habet Christos, habet Vitam!
    I should have rented the space under my name for advertising.
    When I still could have...

  8. #8
    mixedgas's Avatar
    mixedgas is offline Creaky Old Award Winning Bastard Technologist
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    PS, In the states, Chemists at many schools, right now, have far more lasers then physics folks. There is a glut of undergraduate physicists on the market. In a university lab, the way for a undergraduate to get their hands on lasers is to find a well funded researcher and do a internship. Researchers can often get undergraduate "experience progarm" funding from NSF and other sources.

    Otherwise you may just get to see a laser in a Physics third year electromagnetics class for a whopping three hours.

    Ideal path, Go to school, while at school find a prof that will let you into their lab. In some cases they can aid you with tuition.
    Second ideal path, Go to a lasers and optics company in your area, talk to them about it as a career path. People willing to be LEOTs do not grow on trees.
    If they cant help you, they will know some one in the area who might.

    Remember, lasers are becoming turn key boxes. Unless you have a complex lab system or a really big industrial system, you throw them away. Applying the laser technology to solve a problem, is more important then knowing how to build a laser from scratch.

    Besides, a owner with a femtosecond or picosecond system is going to have a end user trained on that model, for the most part you cannot just walk in from the street and be expected to know much more then the optical hazards.

    The systems I install are good for three months to six months to a year without adjustments, depending on complexity. They go far longer if they are adjusted and cleaned. They are however, supported for about 7 to 10 years and are repairable. No two of them are identical.

    Steve




    Steve
    Last edited by mixedgas; 06-17-2013 at 16:22.
    Qui habet Christos, habet Vitam!
    I should have rented the space under my name for advertising.
    When I still could have...

  9. #9
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    All great suggestions! I'd also go after entry level jobs at the many large and small laser manufacturers. Maybe go to Photonics West or CLEOS to jump in as a motivated young candidate, light on formal education but maybe heavy on practical experience with lasers as a hobby (as a result of participation on forums and with laser related groups).

  10. #10
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    The lasershow business kept me from having to get a real job since 1976 when I left Spectra Physics to tour with Led Zeppelin and The Who. Everything after that is kind of a blur but they tell me I had a good time. Now retiring from the business and becoming a laser hobbyist (in Costa Rica). Highly recommend Texas State Technical College laser program.
    AS/LEOT TSTI '74

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