Applied Image and East High’s Precision Optics Program are realizing inspiring results that benefit the graduates, the company, the school, and the community. The Precision Optics Program at East High School is the only program of its kind in the United States. The East High lab aims to train the next generation of precision optical technicians, engineers, and scientists.

Left to right: Paul Conrow, Jahaire Norris,
Jamiere Gibson, Leroy Hill, James Long, Michael Conrow

Paul Conrow and Paul Eckert are the coordinators and instructors for the program. Jahaire Norris, Jamiere Gibson, Michael Conrow (Paul’s son), James Long, and Leroy Hill are recent East High graduates who participated in the program.

These young men have capitalized on the opportunity to put their East High education to work at Applied Image, one of the biggest players in the worldwide photonics imaging and calibration standards markets.

Applied Image owner Glenn Jackling values the pipeline of career-minded young men and women who’ve completed the precision optics coursework at East High. The targeted program helps qualify students to fill the company’s high-skilled optical manufacturing job demands when they graduate. Applied Image has hired East High graduates in various positions, such as Quality inspection and calibration, glass finishing, assembly, and macro lithography.

“A talented workforce is essential to our success in the precision imaging industry. East High School has been a tremendous resource for talented, motivated, and job-ready employees,” said Mr. Jackling.

“I’m proud to tell people I work at a high-tech company like Applied Image.”

– James Long

Mr. Conrow works closely with Mr. Jackling and other Rochester business leaders to ensure the curriculum and lesson plans align with the skills students need to secure in-demand, good-paying jobs. As a result, the school helps increase its students’ economic mobility through purposeful connections between their education and employment opportunities. It’s a win-win for all stakeholders.

“If we can help our students see the real-world application and benefit of their education, the more likely they will be inspired to invest the time and effort to complete it. And business owners are struggling to find talent, especially those with aptitude, interest, and passion for technology,” said Mr. Conrow.

One of the most inspiring results of this school-industry partnership is seeing the high school graduates realize that they can learn and perform complex, high-tech work that they may have thought was out of their reach.

“After high school, I worked at a pizza shop. I wanted to earn money and assumed that was the limit to what I was qualified to do.

When a former classmate recommended that I apply for a job at Applied Image, a new world opened up to me. I knew if he could do it, I could do it!”

Jamiere Gibson

These young men felt confident right out of the gate when they found that their experience working with optics manufacturing equipment in class helped them in the real world. Getting the fundamentals in class made learning how to use the advanced imaging, dicing, and measurement equipment at Applied Image’s manufacturing facility easier.

As Jahaire put it, “As I was going through Applied Image’s technical job training, I was excited to discover…hey, I can do this!”

The East High alums described learning more than technical job skills at Applied Image. They shared that they learned the value of networking, attention to detail, teamwork, inclusive work environments, and good leadership. Some see Applied Image as a place where they can work long-term, while others see it as a bridge to further education in college. The East High School program is a pipeline for various optics programs offered at MCC and the University of Rochester. Jamiere said, “After watching Applied Image go through an ISO audit, I now want to investigate the option of becoming a quality auditor myself someday!”

The welcoming, supportive team at Applied Image meant a lot to the new hires. “Their team made me feel welcome and needed. Everyone took the time to ensure I was properly trained and set up for success,” said Michael.

As they embark on their career journey, the young men said they feel more confident knowing their skills and abilities are needed and valued by distinguished companies like Applied Image.

Mr. Conrow’s relentless focus on connecting his students to job opportunities doesn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated by his students. Following his lead, the graduates are quick to spread the word to other students and new graduates about the great job opportunities at Applied Image.

“I was familiar with learning equipment in the

Precision Optics Program, so I knew I could
learn and figure out new equipment at any job.”

Leroy Hill

They want their friends and family to know there are fun, challenging, good-paying jobs right here in Rochester. They want others to realize their career choices are broader than they imagined!

The type of high-skilled jobs offered by companies like Applied Image can be a game-changer for the Rochester community. Fortune Business reports that the global photonics market is projected to grow from 802.5 billion USD in 2021 to 1,267.3 billion USD by 2028 (a 6.7% CAGR). For Rochester alone, the industry represents over $3 billion. The increase in photonics-enabled devices in healthcare, information and communication, industrial production sectors, and others fuels the industry’s expansion.

Educating and cultivating a local workforce prepared to take on these growth opportunities is a boon for the entire community. The partnership between Applied Image and East High School is an excellent example of how we can do it successfully.

Glenn Jackling, owner of Applied Image, Inc., joins the team photo.