East High Precision Optics: Preparing Teenagers for Success in Rochester’s Precision Optics Industry
Paul Conrow, East High School
In 2008, Paul Conrow was a Physics and Chemistry teacher at East High School in the Rochester City School District; he had no optics or machining expertise. That year, he accompanied Tom Battley, of the Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster, on tours of three local optics companies. Inspired by these visits, Paul hypothesized that high school students could learn to use the tools, machines, and materials to make precision optics. In 2012, a generous multi-year grant from New York State’s Education Department funded the creation of an extensive precision optics teaching lab at East High. Paul’s hypothesis has been confirmed; East students learn a wide-range of skills and techniques: core drilling lens blanks, generating plano and spherical surfaces, loose and fixed abrasive grinding, lap polishing, edging, and operating an evaporative coater to make aluminum mirrors. Testing and metrology is done throughout with spherometers, height gauges, calipers, micrometers, test plates, and a Zygo Mark GPI interferometer.
The program continues to evolve and develop into a multi-year sequence. The manufacture of precision optics is the primary focus in year one. Alignment, design, and lens performance evaluation are introduced in year two and three. Students in advanced courses build telescopes, shear plate and Tyman-Green interferometers, and diffraction grating spectrometers. These students use USAF resolution targets and CMOS cameras to carry out image analysis experiments on their own optics and commercial lenses.
The program mission is to provide students with the skills and experiences that prepare them for success in the local optics economy. Paul Conrow’s vision is to inspire Rochester’s next generation of optical technicians, engineers, and scientists.
PRE TALK DINNER with guest speaker Paul Conrow will be held at 5:00 PM at Delmonico's Italian Steakhouse 125 White Spruce Blvd Rochester NY 14623, prior to the talk. Contact the House Committee by email for dinner reservations. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org