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Thread: What university offers the best photonics and optics degree in the US?

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    Default What university offers the best photonics and optics degree in the US?

    What university offers the best photonics and optics degree in the US?
    I am currently in electrical engineering and i feel that my true passion lie with lasers. I am very impressed by the University of Central Florida and have started talking with them about the possibilty of transferring.

    I was curious whether or not there were a few schools out there that I have overlooked. I really don't care where in the US they are located.

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    Quote Originally Posted by icorn25 View Post
    What university offers the best photonics and optics degree in the US?
    I am currently in electrical engineering and i feel that my true passion lie with lasers. I am very impressed by the University of Central Florida and have started talking with them about the possibilty of transferring.

    I was curious whether or not there were a few schools out there that I have overlooked. I really don't care where in the US they are located.
    If you happen to visit UCF, hit me up; tis just a bit south o me and I would be interested in seein what they have to offer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by allthatwhichis View Post
    If you happen to visit UCF, hit me up; tis just a bit south o me and I would be interested in seein what they have to offer.
    Ok will do! Hopefully I can get down there sometime this summer. I am not sure how all of this will play out yet.

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    You looking for PhD or Undergrad?

    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by mixedgas View Post
    You looking for PhD or Undergrad?

    Steve
    Well it looks like there isn't much out there for undergrad. If there were I would really consider it, but I think my plan now is to go for graduate work. Do you have any suggestions or know of any other summer programs, online courses, etc. that would give me an informative start?

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    Hi icorn25,

    I am currently in an undergraduate program in polymer science and have long considered getting a degree in photonics/optoelectronics or a related field of study. I had written a more in depth reply to this thread, but when I went to submit the post I was logged out of PL.

    In short, I spent several hours last weekend looking for undergraduate and REU programs in these fields, and found several optical engineering undergrad programs, such as those at the University of Rochester, the University of Arizona, the University of Alabama at Huntsville, Norfolk State University, and UC Davis, to name a few.

    Of course, Professor Shuji Nakamura, inventor of GaN LEDs and laser diodes, has a lab in UC Santa Barbara's Materials Engineering department, which offers a five year BS/MS program in materials science and engineering. I'm sure you could take a few graduate courses offered as part of their Electronic and Photonic Materials Ph.D. concentration if you want to focus on the materials aspect of photonics.

    I also found several REU programs at various schools across the country. The NSF has a handy REU program search tool and their list of Physics REU programs lists several programs which focus on optics. The Center on Materials and Devices for Information Technology Research's "Hooked on Photonics" REU program is offered at the University of Washington, the University of Arizona and Georgia Tech. The National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network has a REU program at fourteen participating universities throughout the US, many of which offer opportunities for students to perform photonics/optoelectronics research.

    I hope this helps you get started in finding a good program; I have yet to dig through many of the sites/programs I discovered.

    Personally, I have been considering transferring to into an Electrical Engineering program at my state's largest university, as the university I'm at now does not offer any engineering degrees besides grad degrees in polymer engineering. I decided that I'd like to get an undergrad degree in something that would be rather employable just in case I decide later on that I don't want to continue onto grad school. The polymer science program I'm in is as focused as many engineering programs in the US, at 55 hours of core polymer courses. I figure that if I don't want to go into industry producing polymers or getting a Ph.D. so that I can develop new polymeric materials, I should get a more generalized degree such as chemical engineering.

    Turning to my interests in lasers and optoelectronics, it seems that many people start off by getting an undergrad degree in Electrical Engineering and specializing in optoelectronics/photonics in grad school. However, I'm not quite sure how much I'd enjoy the bulk of the electrical engineering curriculum. It seems that the few optoelectronics/photonics related courses offered are only technical electives for EE students. Considering that, I could just take these photonics specific courses and their few prerequisites as an Applied Physics major, which would allow me to take courses I seem to have a stronger intellectual interest in, although I realize that this degree would likely be less employable at the bachelor's level.

    I have considered transferring to a university out of state, however, I have a prepaid tuition program which is only valid for institutions within my state, and I am receiving a good bit of state financial aid as well. If I were to transfer out of state, I would only receive the average tuition of major institutions in my state from my tuition program and I would lose the state financial aid, of course.

    I could attend the University of Alabama at Huntsville at the in-state tuition rate and get a BS in Optical Engineering, but I'm unsure of the quality of the program and the employability of an optical engineering degree at the BS level.

    However, there has been a research proposal put forth within the polymer science department at my university for polymeric/organic LED research and development. Although I was only a freshman this past year, I began working in a research lab a few months ago and have attended several of the graduate seminars, which was how I found out about this proposal. I remember that one undergraduate research assistant was included in the budget for the project. I will ask around to see what has transpired regarding this proposal; if I am able to get involved in this project it may convince me to stick around and pursue organic-based optoelectronics in grad school.

    Finally, I must apologize for this somewhat longwinded post. It's just that I have also been considering pursuing lasers/optoelectronics as a career and would greatly appreciate any input from those who have done so themselves.
    Last edited by Kyle; 05-26-2011 at 22:50.

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    Kyle, Before you transfer to EE put a call into these folks:

    http://www2.uakron.edu/cpspe/3-2-programs.php


    Disclaimer, I'm a Former employee of UA. That is not a 100% recommendation of the 3-2 program, I was attached to the hardware/applied research end of things, not the pure academics.

    OLED was not in my building during the time I was there, but they have hired some new profs and have a strong interest in polymeric optical materials. A good sign to look for is more then one prof in a department working on your area of interest, or a cross departmental team on campus. Two or Three is a minimum number. Even better yet is a center of excellence or a dedicated building. Don't forget to look at total funding and funding history, that should be on line for free some place.

    EE is probably a good stepping stone, until you read the fine print on the polymer PhD admission forms, which almost always require CE or Chem undergrads, some times ME.

    Icorn,
    Most undergrad optics programs are out west, Arizona, California, Texas. Maybe Rochester, NY. I'd strongly suggest a physics or EE background before specializing in optics. Having a undergrad in pure physics results in a small market overloaded with competing job hunters when you graduate in the US, it is mainly a stepping stone to the graduate path. That might not be the case in developing countries. You might wish to minor in Chinese.

    I'm just a technician, but I did listen to what the various students said at lunch. I would strongly suggest you find a few people with terminal degrees in your desired area and ask them for suggestions. Put in a call to Optical Society of America and SPIE, they probably can put you in touch with some one who can advise you. When dealing with the professional societies, it may take more then one phone call, and some persistence, to get past the secretaries.


    Steve
    Last edited by mixedgas; 05-27-2011 at 08:05.

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    Default Univ. of Arizona

    I personally would recommend the U of A in Tucson. I attended from 1995 -2001. Although I was into genetics I had several friends in the optics dept. In fact we even built a 40W laserscope and ran lasers at raves around the area for a couple of years for fun. Great facilities, teachers, and an incredible learning enviroment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mixedgas View Post
    Kyle, Before you transfer to EE put a call into these folks:

    http://www2.uakron.edu/cpspe/3-2-programs.php


    Disclaimer, I'm a Former employee of UA. That is not a 100% recommendation of the 3-2 program, I was attached to the hardware/applied research end of things, not the pure academics.

    OLED was not in my building during the time I was there, but they have hired some new profs and have a strong interest in polymeric optical materials. A good sign to look for is more then one prof in a department working on your area of interest, or a cross departmental team on campus. Two or Three is a minimum number. Even better yet is a center of excellence or a dedicated building. Don't forget to look at total funding and funding history, that should be on line for free some place.

    EE is probably a good stepping stone, until you read the fine print on the polymer PhD admission forms, which almost always require CE or Chem undergrads, some times ME.
    Steve,

    Thanks so much for the advice. I was indeed aware of the University of Akron's polymer programs; the professor whose lab I work in received his Ph.D. from Akron, and I now see that he received the outstanding alumni award from their polymer science department a few years ago. I'll check around their web site and make a few calls to find out what kind of research is going on in organic/polymeric optoelectronics. I do see that out of state tuition is several times higher than my current tuition rate, which would make transferring financially difficult. But U of Akron seems to be a very promising institution for future Ph.D. work. I'll ask around and see if they would be a bit flexible on their rates, but considering I'm already in a polymer program, it seems doubtful they'd be willing to cut me a little slack.

    I have checked out the NSF institutional R&D expenditure reports in the past, but they are rather vague and seem to group polymer science/engineering with chemistry and ChemE. I will try to find more detailed expenditure reports from institutional web sites.

    I assumed that an EE degree would likely hinder any future pursuits in polymer/organic materials research, but continued to consider it as it seems there is still some life left in inorganic optoelectronics research/production. Although with products like AMOLED displays and such beginning to hit the consumer market, perhaps organic optoelectronics is rapidly becoming a more solid option for a long term research career.

    I had originally planned on getting a BS in ChemE as I noticed that many of the job listings posted on my polymer department's web site seemed to accept/prefer people with Chemistry/ChemE/MatSE degrees and figured that an undergrad ChemE degree would be more widely employable than a strictly polymer focused degree. However, I was unable to attend a school with a ChemE program this year and planned on transferring if I didn't like the polymer program. The professor I had for Calculus this semester got his BS in ChemE from Carnegie Mellon and told me that many ChemE undergrad programs seem to prepare more for sales/marketing than actual industrial/research work, which threw me off a bit.

    I guess the bottom line is that I'm unsure of exactly what I want to do and haven't pinned down an interest to study further or pursue a career in.

    I'll be working in the polymer synthesis lab throughout the summer, and hopefully will receive a small research project of my own. I'll also check out EE class lectures like those that MIT, UC Berkeley, etc. have distributed online to see how well I would enjoy the EE curriculum. Besides, it's something I need to know a little bit more about anyway.

    Many thanks,
    Kyle

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