Optical Engineering

Optical Engineering

Optical Engineering is the branch of engineering that incorporates the production, modification, and detection of light into devices and processes.

Graduates know how to select, design and produce light using a wide variety of sources (from incandescent bulbs to lasers). Graduates are capable of modifying optical signals using passive optical elements (apertures, lens, polarizers, wave plates) or diverse active elements (e.g., spatial light modulators, variable retarders, acoustic optic modulators). Optical engineers understand and specify devices to collect optical signals according to optical wavelength, information bandwidth, and noise.

The optoelectronics sequence blends the unique aspects of Oregon Tech with advances in computing and optoelectronics to create a challenging, hands-on experience. All optical engineering classes have both lecture and laboratory components. As an example, not only do students grind their own mirrors, but they also characterize those same mirrors using optical metrology techniques. Students will use both inexpensive consumer electronics devices (e.g., Arduino, webcam, laser pointers) as well as more traditional expensive optical laboratory tools (e.g., kinematic stages, spatial filters, vibration-isolated optical tables).

Career Opportunities

Optical Engineering allows students to augment traditional engineering disciplines with training in photonics. Optical Engineering includes the skills needed to incorporate optical components in systems serving diverse areas such as metrology, photovoltaics, computing, robotics, and optical testing. This provides a competitive advantage for engineers entering the workforce because incorporating optical subsystems is common in many engineering applications. For example, a student seeking to become an optomechanical engineer might combine with mechanical engineering; an optoelectronics engineer would combine with electrical engineering; a solar energy engineer with renewable energy engineering.

Degree Offered

Optical Engineering at the Wilsonville campus of Oregon Tech may be studied as a Dual Major in Optical Engineering, as physics courses for a minor in applied physics, or as a simple emphasis within a BSEE or BSEET degree.

Dual Major in Optical Engineering

The dual major in Optical Engineering is only awarded in conjunction with completion of an ABET-accredited Bachelor's degree in an engineering discipline (e.g., BSEE, BSREE, BSMMET, BSEET). To get the dual major in Optical Engineering, students must complete 40 credits. The capstone project is expected to incorporate significant optical engineering elements as well.

Course Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4
Some of the courses may be counted to meet requirements in the primary major.
EE 221 Circuits I 4
EE 223 Circuits II 4
EE 225 Circuits III 4
EE 343 Solid-State Devices 4
EE/PHY 448 Geometric Optics 4
EE/PHY 449 Radiometry & Detection 4
EE/PHY 450 Physical Optics 4
EE/PHY 451 Lasers 4
EE/PHY 452 Waveguides and Fiber Optics 4
EE/PHY 453 Optical Metrology 4

Minor in Applied Physics

A minor in applied physics is achieved by taking

  • PHY 221, 222, 223 — General Physics w/ Calculus (12 credits total)
  • MATH 254N — Vector Calculus I (4 credits)
  • MATH 321 — Applied Differential Equations I (4 credits)
  • Three courses from PHY 448, PHY 449, PHY450, PHY 451, PHY 452, PHY 453 (12 credits total)

Of the upper-division physics classes, six credits cannot be applied towards the requirements for your major program. Students wishing to pursue the minor in Applied Physics should consult with physics faculty in the Natural Sciences Department for advising.

Emphasis in Optical Engineering

BSEE or BSEET students who select their upper-division EE credits from EE 448, EE 449, EE 450, EE 451, EE 452, or EE 453 will fullfil the requirements for an emphasis in optical engineering within their primary major.