From Halfpipes to Pipelines
The end of high school is an exciting time, but it can also be a little daunting. There are so many paths in front of you, and it’s not always obvious which one is “right.” College is alluring yet can be extremely expensive. Going directly into the workforce is practical, but what if you get stuck doing something you don’t love? On his last day before graduation, Jaiden Minott had all of these feelings and then some. But by chance, this was also the day that changed his life because he found Optics.
“Being in the Technician Pipeline Program definitely eases the stress of balancing work life and school life. It's a really good experience!”
A Crystal Clear Opportunity
After Dr. Alexis Vogt, chair of the Optical Systems Technology program at Monroe Community College (MCC), gave a presentation in Jaiden’s physics class, he was immediately intrigued. “What sparked my interest in Dr. Vogt’s presentation was how enthusiastic she was and the different examples she gave of how important Optics are in everyday life,” he explains. Jaiden decided to take Optics classes at MCC, where he learned about a program that felt like the perfect fit.
He enrolled in the Technician Pipeline Program at Corning Glass, an internationally-renowned manufacturing company. Participants are paid to work 8 hours/week plus receive financial and academic support while they earn an associate degree. It was ideal for him because he could gain hands-on experience in a new career while going to school simultaneously. He could pick his work hours that best fit his class schedule and he secured a full staff position for three years after earning his degree.
“Being in the Technician Pipeline Program definitely eases the stress of balancing work life and school life. It’s a really good experience!” Jaiden says with a smile.
When Legos Give a Leg Up
Earn while you learn programs are prevalent in the Optics field, and they take pressure off of recent high school graduates who aren’t quite sure of their next steps. You can explore an exciting career path without taking on mountains of debt. Thankfully for Jaiden, he loved the Optics technician work immediately because it felt like an extension of his hobbies.
“My hobbies are skateboarding, video games, [and] LEGOS,” he explains. “There are many different skills that carry over into technician work, such as hand-eye coordination, dexterity, math skills, memorization, and the list goes on.”
For his Optics career, Jaiden is using skills he’s honed his entire life. All those trips skateboarding down the halfpipe or building intricate LEGO designs were helping get him where he is today.
In 2022, total student loan debt in the U.S. reached $1.75 trillion! On average, students earning four-year degrees leave college with $37,787 in debt. This is a top concern for so many people like Jaiden, so if there’s an opportunity to go to school without accumulating enormous debt and also find a career you love, why not take it? Jaiden’s degree has given him a secure job and a springboard to keep pushing forward in his education.
“There are many different things I love about my job, one of them is how important a role Optics play in everyday life,” he explains. “Another is the environment that I work in. My coworkers are hilarious. It adds a lot to going into work every day.”
Jaiden plans to pursue a 4-year engineering degree once he finishes his time at Corning Glass. And thanks to Optics and its unique educational partnerships, he’s set up to succeed.
1 Hanson, Melanie. “Student Loan Debt Statistics” EducationData.org, October 26, 2022,
“There are many different things I love about my job, one of them is how important a role Optics play in everyday life”