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Oregon Tech Offers Optics Program in Response to Local Industry Demand

Mar 19, 2013
More than 1,200 new laser/optics technicians and engineers are needed per year in the US and only 230 students graduate with that specialty.

More than 1,200 new laser/optics technicians and engineers are needed per year in the US and only 230 students graduate with that specialty. Oregon Tech is addressing this shortage with its new optoelectronics focus within the electrical engineering degree program. This is the only program of its kind in the state of Oregon.

“This is a great time in optoelectronics,” says Scott Prahl, Professor and Program Director of Optoelectronics at Oregon Tech. “Historically, optics has been prohibitively expensive, but prices have dropped 1000-fold over the last decade. Now offering a lab to students with the best technologies including lasers and floating tables makes optoelectronics education more accessible.”

Optoelectronics is the study and application of electronic devices that source, detect and control light, usually considered a sub-field of photonics.  The application of this field is far reaching, from consumer electronics to military and industrial uses.

“More than 90 Oregon companies now hire engineers to incorporate lasers, camera lenses, etc. into their products,” says Christina Crespo, Electrical Engineering and Renewable Energy Department Chair at Oregon Tech. “These companies often must recruit from outside Oregon. Many of them have already expressed an interest in hiring optoelectronics interns from our program.”

The Oregon Tech optoelectronics program is rigorous. Each class is paired with a specific laboratory that offers direct experience allowing students to actually implement what they learn. The curriculum was designed to allow graduates to be useful immediately at companies hiring these engineers. 

Oregon Tech students studying in the optics program may also take advantage of a 4+1 BS/MS program in partnership with the University of Oregon, where students complete their BS degree in engineering at Oregon Tech, followed by a one-year master’s internship program offered by the University of Oregon. The program connects students to one-year paid internships in a variety of high-tech industries including solar, semiconductor and optics. Upon completion of this program, students also receive an MS degree in Applied Physics or Chemistry from The University of Oregon. Most 4+1 interns can expect to earn between $2,000 and $5,400 per month during the course of their internship. Students in this area are also often hired before graduation and end up with a higher than average starting salary.

To learn more about Oregon Tech's optoelectronics option in the electrical engineering program, contact Dr. Scott Prahl at 503-821-1250 or by e-mail at scott.prahl@oit.edu.

About Oregon Tech

Founded in Klamath Falls in 1947, Oregon Institute of Technology is one of seven universities in the Oregon University System, and the only public institute of technology in the Pacific Northwest. Oregon Tech provides degree programs in engineering and health technologies, management, communication and applied sciences that prepare students to be effective participants in their professional, public, and international communities through hands-on learning. Oregon Tech has a full-service, residential campus in Klamath Falls and an urban, industry-focused campus in Wilsonville. Visit www.oit.edu to learn more about Oregon Institute of Technology.

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