Optical Sciences & Engineering: Trip the Light Fantastic
Optical engineers use lasers, lenses, spectrometers and other light-manipulating systems to design equipment for manufacturing, medicine, communications and space exploration.
Optical engineers at the UA are world-leaders in designing and fabricating highly specialized optics. Students work alongside faculty and professionals on projects of global significance, such as the Giant Magellan Telescope, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, and OSIRIS-REx, an unmanned probe set to launch in 2016 and land on and sample an asteroid before returning to Earth.
The UA is part of the Integrated Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation, recently awarded $110 million to research photonic integrated circuits.
Academic Focus Areas
The optical sciences and engineering major has four tracks:
- Optics: upper-division optics courses
- Optoelectronics: circuits and electromagnetism
- Optical materials: materials science
- Optomechanics: statics, dynamics and design
UA optical engineering research includes
- Ultrahigh-capacity optical fiber technologies for the Internet
- Hand-held ophthalmic devices for examining patients in remote areas.
- Optical headgear for pilots
- Solar energy systems technologies
- Sensors for more accurate weather prediction
- Exploring future data storage techniques
- Enhancing techniques for solar energy collection
- Developing new ways of viewing the universe
- Creating lasers that can manipulate lightning
- Develop new technologies for medical imaging
- Validating and preserving ancient artworks by Vincent Van Gogh
Outside the Classroom
In addition to out-of-this world stargazing and astrophysical research opportunities, UA optical science engineers enjoy many professional development advantages and community outreach activities through Women in Optics and the Student Optics Chapter.
Graduates are ready to work in optical design, optical fabrication and testing, lasers, optical detectors, optical instrumentation, and optical fiber communications — and to successfully pursue higher degrees and an academic career.
Optical engineers do research and development in medicine and the military, develop new lenses for space telescopes, improve fiber optic systems, and design metamaterials with unique optical properties.