American Center for Optics Manufacturing

The Backbone of America’s Precision Optics Industry

Designed to Meet the Need

Recognizing a critical shortage in skilled technicians, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) selected AmeriCOM to significantly build and sustain America’s Precision Optics manufacturing base. Working in tandem with industrial, academic, nonprofit, and government partners, AmeriCOM is leveraging American ingenuity to forge new paths of prosperity and security.

For every one engineer focused on manufacturing innovation, 10 technicians are needed to bring the innovation to market. For this reason, AmeriCOM is focused on enabling the training of ~800 new Optics technicians a year through 2025.

AmeriCOM proudly works with the Congressional Optics & Photonics (O&P) Caucus, which hosts briefings and roundtable discussions, promotes legislation to advance the industry, and highlights the success and growth of light-based tech.

Currently, there are more than 1,700 open positions[1] in the Optics and Photonics fields. AmeriCOM works closely with community colleges to establish programs so that more technicians can be trained and enter the workforce. [1]Retrieved on January 18, 2022 from

There are not only too few trained Optics technicians in the field but also a shortage of Optics instructors. AmeriCOM is forging a pipeline to make it easier for those working in the Optics field to help train the next generation of workers.

AmeriCOM's mission provides an economic lift to communities. Secure, Optics jobs are a pathway to prosperity for individuals and their families too often underrepresented among skilled technicians in the U.S. manufacturing industries.

To foster collaboration, each Optics ecosystem will create Regional Advisory Boards made up of representatives from all partner organizations. This cohesion will help enable a successful path from education to workforce.

We have a three-pronged mission:


Design and execute workforce training programs, increasing the pipeline of skilled Optics technicians, especially from underserved populations.


Develop advanced optic manufacturing technologies, testing equipment, and the specialized materials required to support scalable manufacturing.


Successfully transition mission-critical Precision Optics technologies from research into sustainable manufacturing operations.

We are committed to recruiting everyone, especially those in underserved populations.

Precision Optics Ecosystem

What is a Precision Optics Ecosystem?

Key members of a Precision Optics Ecosystem include partners from education, the Optics industry sector, nonprofit organizations, and government representatives on local, state, and federal levels. It takes collaboration from all these stakeholders to create a hands-on experience for students and workers, helping them become more knowledgeable and industry-ready.

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Our Team

Dave Shelton

President & CEO

Details about Dave are coming as soon as we can pare down his vast professional experiences into one short paragraph.

Alexis Vogt, PhD

Workforce and Higher Education Executive Director

A tenured professor of Optics at Monroe Community College (MCC), Alexis teaches, coaches, skis, and “moms” with equal passion and skill. Dr. Vogt oversaw the first college worldwide to award associate degrees in Precision Optics. But what she really wants to talk about is the periscope project with her dad.

Josanne DeNatale

National Marketing & Workforce Development Operations Director

Responsible for the AmeriCOM brand identity, Josanne loves to tease out data that helps connect people to opportunities, like the many career paths available within Optics manufacturing. A designer at heart, she never forgets a typeface, so you could say she has a “font-ographic memory.

Kirsten Nobel, PhD

Program Manager, Workforce and Higher Education

Kirsten works with AmeriCOM's university and industry partners to build labs for training tomorrow's Optics technicians. Aside from working this beat, she also keeps a different kind of beat as a drummer in a rock band.

Peggy Trabert

Marketing & Communications Manager

Peggy is responsible for collaborating and managing the creation of corporate marketing materials to raise awareness of the Optics industry and its career possibilities to an up-and-coming workforce. She’s also an interior decorating consultant so please send all feng shui-related questions her way.

Donna Smith

Science Educator Liaison

The high school teacher you wish you had! Donna works to increase the number of students studying Optics, leading to more technicians in the workforce. She does her best thinking about education while glamping in her fifth wheel.

Amanda Meier, PhD

Program Director and Faculty, Optics Technology Program, Front Range Community College

Amanda directs and instructs the Optics Technology Program at Front Range Community College in Longmont, CO. This athlete who made high-powered lasers at her former job loves connecting Optics students and companies to strengthen this vital workforce.

Carolyn McMorran

Assistant Vice President of Professional Continuing Education, Valencia College

Carolyn has over 29 years of experience in workforce development. She gains the most joy from helping others achieve their career potential and better their lives. When she is not at work, she enjoys spending time at the beach.

Mike Pomerantz

Sr. Lab Technician/faculty at Monroe Community College and Lab Technician at the University of Rochester

Teacher, technician, recruiter, outdoorsman, Mike rarely sits still — and he likes it this way. Jumping into the field at 18 years old as an intern, Mike believes Optics will have the same impact on human health and knowledge that electricity did in the early 1900s.

AmeriCOM in
the News

The Optics field is always changing and it takes an equally dynamic organization to help lead the way. Discover what’s new at AmeriCOM now.

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