The course is designed to develop the next generation of fiber-optic network installers ahead of the wave of fiber broadband networks expected to result from federal, state, and local government funding programs.
After the initial OpTIC Path pilot program launched this past March, Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC) in Louisiana and Northeast Mississippi Community College (NEMCC) have announced plans to offer the course – this fall in the case of BPCC and next year in terms of NEMCC as part of its existing Workforce curriculum.
Both colleges are working with local broadband services companies and other organizations to ensure that the students who graduate from their respective programs meet the local service providers’ needs.
BPCC is working with Louisiana’s ConnectLA Office of Broadband Development and Connectivity, while NEMCC is in contact with such operators as Alcorn County Electric Power Association, Tippah Electric Power Association, and Tombigbee Fiber.
NEMCC also is working with the local service providers to source course instructors and to help draft grant funding proposals for the purchase training equipment.
“There is an obvious opportunity for the fiber industry in Northeast Mississippi. Our state and local leaders are working hard to close the digital divide, and a lot of local industries rely on fiber broadband services to support their transition to smart communications and Internet of Things initiatives,” said Greg James, assistant workforce director at NEMCC, who added:
“Our Workforce training curriculum is built to be agile and flexible and to provide immediate relief to local industries, especially in times of transition. The OpTIC Path course is an exciting new addition to our Workforce program. It will enable our college to support the immense opportunity that fiber brings to our students and communities.”
Rick Bateman, chancellor at BPCC, concluded:
“Louisiana is experiencing incredible success in gaining resources to connect every resident to high-speed internet. But we’ve still got a long road ahead of us. The OpTIC Path program will help us build a solid workforce foundation to ensure we can make it to the finish line. We’re in the middle of a tremendous, historic opportunity to transform our state’s digital equity. At BPCC, we build workforces and right now there is no greater need than training folks that can realize the investment in broadband infrastructure. In 20 to 30 years, I think people will say that we really got this right.”