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Optical Engineering


Enter the new, in-demand field of Optical Engineering for opportunities that will light up your education and engineering career.

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What you will learn

A relatively new field, Optical Engineers are in high demand in industry because of the shortage of engineers with specialized education and training in this area. Oregon Tech’s Optical Engineering program at the Bachelor’s degree level is rare, as this degree is generally only offered at the Master’s and Ph.D. levels. Oregon Tech offers not only industry-experienced faculty and small class sizes, it is an applied professional program that is flexible enough for all types of students: new freshmen; those who already have a degree; transfer students with an Associate’s degree or some college; and working professionals who just want to take one or more courses in the Optical field.

Oregon Tech’s Dual Bachelor’s Degree in Optical Engineering has several interdisciplinary, applied options in combination with several other degrees at Oregon Tech, including: Electrical Engineering, Renewable Energy Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Electrical Engineering Technology. It can also be a Minor within a Physics degree, as courses for a minor in applied physics, as a simple emphasis within a BSEE or BSEET degree; or as a technical option within Oregon Tech’s Master of Science in Engineering degree.

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 completed by senior students is expected to incorporate significant optical engineering elements as well.

 Quick Facts

The general focus of Optical Engineers is to incorporate the production, modification and detection of light into devices in high tech fields. Optical engineers understand and specify devices to collect optical signals according to optical wavelength, information bandwidth, and noise.

Graduates of Oregon Tech’s Optical Engineering Dual Degree program have expertise in selecting, designing and producing light using, a wide variety of sources (from incandescent bulbs to lasers). They have unique, professional capabilities in 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).

About the Program

Degrees Offered

  • Dual Major in Optical Engineering, in addition to accredited primary major in an engineering discipline offered at Oregon Tech


  • Portland-Metro

Related Programs

For Questions, Contact:

Scott Prahl

Scott Prahl, Program Director



Jobs and Careers in this degree

Optical Engineering career augments traditional engineering disciplines with expertise in photonics. Optical Engineering professionals have 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.

The types of companies that work with Optical Engineers include more than eighty in Oregon alone that are engaged in a diverse range of applications, such as semiconductor inspection, infrared imaging, automation, surface coatings, laser manufacture, lighting, camera design, optical fiber communication, and colorimetry.

The types of jobs that Optical Engineerings typically have include:

  • Optical Systems Engineer
  • Electro-Optical Engineer
  • Opto-Mechanical Engineer
  • Solar Energy Engineer
  • Fiber Optic Engineer
  • Laser Systems Engineer
  • Imaging Engineer
  • Optical Manufacturing Engineer


An Oregon Tech degree in Optical Engineering brings highly successful, rewarding careers that begin in the classroom. The optoelectronics sequence blends the unique aspects of Oregon ‘s applied, professional teaching and learning approaches with advances in computing and optoelectronics to create a challenging and engaging 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 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) as they work in labs to solve real-world problems with innovative approaches, and in ways that encourage risk-taking and creativity.

Geometric Optics

Reflection and refraction at plane and curved surfaces and imaging properties of lenses.

Physical Optics

Sphereical and planar waves, scalar diffraction theory, Fresnel and Fraunhofer diffraction and more.


Laser radiation properties, laser cavities, coherence, atomic spectra, and more.

Radiometry and Detection

Fundamental of radiometry and photometry.