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Why Study at the Institute of Optics?

Students may choose to enter the Institute of Optics for different reasons. Students of physics may wish to continue their physics education at the graduate level, with a strong emphasis on optics. A wide range of courses in optical physics is offered. Additional courses in subjects such as statistical mechanics, relativistic quantum theory, and condensed matter physics are available in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Students of electrical engineering may wish to continue their electrical engineering education at the graduate level, with a strong emphasis on optics. Many exciting topics involve an interaction between electrical engineering and optics: subpicosecond electro-optic sampling, image recognition and processing, remote sensing, hybrid electrical-optical computing, and optical communication.

Another group of students, who may have either science or engineering backgrounds, may wish to pursue a graduate education in the area of optical system design and instrumental optics. This area of engineering is now rapidly expanding into virtually all segments of industrial research and product development. It includes the development of new optical materials such as gradient index glasses, and the development of methods for using these new materials in optical system design. Also being studied are new techniques for analyzing aberrations and optical system performance.

Of course, not all students fall neatly into one of these categories, which are themselves strongly overlapping. For the student who is not certain which area would be the most rewarding, the Institute of Optics can be the ideal place. During the first year of study the student is exposed to all of these areas, through class work, through special seminars presented by the faculty, and through individual meetings in which students and faculty members can discuss their interests.

Job opportunities in optics are many and constantly growing. With optics playing an increasing role in industrial research and development, many opportunities are open there. As many academic physics and electrical engineering departments are placing more emphasis on research and teaching in optics, demand is growing for faculty who are well educated in this area. Recent graduates have joined the faculties of major universities. Others have taken research positions at industrial and governmental laboratories. Another very important group of graduates have either started their own small companies or joined other small companies.