A Freeform Optics Technician Life
A 21-year-old artist. A new mom. A thriving Optics Technician. These may seem like three very different people, but they’re just one: Felicity Blaakman. As a technician specializing in Freeform Optics applications, she found a career with flexibility in the work and the life she leads outside the lab. An Optics manufacturing career gave Felicity the rare gift of freedom to explore all facets of herself without sacrificing anything.
"This field is booming right now. I feel secure in the career I've chosen, always knowing there's my position and my peers rooting for me and backing me up each step of my journey."
Artistry Meets Optics
Felicity discovered the field as a teen and was hooked. “I took an introductory class in high school, and it was amazing. Immediately, I was like, This is what I’m going to do with my career!’” the Rochester native says. Blaakman found a career that blends her interests in ways she didn’t know possible. “I was an art student but I also loved science,” she adds. “[Optics] was both technical and artistic at the same time—it was interesting to see both of them colliding there.”
As an avid ceramist, many of the skills she acquired in an art studio carried over into her Optics career. “In any sort of art craft and especially in ceramics, you learn to have a steady hand and a keen eye. Both are helpful in the Optics field.” There’s a deep creative side to the work that some might not anticipate in the manufacturing space.
From College Courses to Outer Space
After high school, Felicity studied Optics at her local community college and further took classes at a separate university. However, upon graduation from her community college, the 21-year-old had plenty of employment opportunities. Today, Felicity primarily works on Optics used in space applications for NASA.
Most people, when they hear “Optics,” think of eyewear. While that’s true, there are hundreds of applications of lenses that are used in other optical components that enable the technologies we all use every day. “There’s much more to Optics than eyewear – and many paths you can follow – lab work, hands-on work, engineering. It’s all so cool!”
Challenging Work with a Caring Community
The demand for technicians is high, and Felicity is one of a growing number of women entering the field. “I’m seeing more and more [women]. Even in the past year, I’ve seen many different new faces. It’s really growing exponentially,” she explains.
And flexibility matches that growth.
An Optics manufacturing career offers tremendous flexibility in making other aspects of one’s life easier, especially when life-changing events happen. Felicity found herself in that exact position during her academic journey. “I was pregnant most of my college career,” she says.
Oftentimes, an event like this would push someone out of the workforce — especially someone younger. However, Felicity found a community in Optics to back her up. “I went into labor halfway through my last semester. I had professors checking up on me, [and] it was comforting to have that support.”
Right Time and Secure Career Choice
As a single mom, Felicity knows the realities of balancing a career and motherhood. She’s thankful she chose the stability of an Optics career for herself and her daughter. “This field is booming right now. I feel secure in the career I’ve chosen, always knowing there’s my position and my peers rooting for me and backing me up each step of my journey.”
“What I love about Optics is being part of something big—feeling connected,” the Optics technician smiles. When you’re a 21-year-old artist, a new mom, and a valued team member all at once, big is only the beginning.
“I was an art student but I also loved science...[Optics] was both technical and artistic at the same time—it was interesting to see both of them colliding there.”