Is optics for me?

    It depends.

    If you are smart and hard-working, and you like gadgets, high-tech toys, science and math, then a degree from the College of Optical Sciences and a career in optics might very well be for you!

    Optics isn't just telescopes and microscopes any more — we are surrounded by optics and optical technology all day. Grocery store scanners, photocopy machines, cameras, the headlights in your car, the display on your computer monitor and the readout on your calculator are all examples of optical technology. And of course, television and the movies wouldn't exist without optical technology. Optics is so critical to those industries that one of our faculty members, Arthur Francis Turner, won an Oscar for his work in developing the technology that led to the creation of special effects we see in films and television today.

    Life as an Optics Student

    In addition to the world-class optics education programs here, this is a great place to be a student. We have about 500 students from many countries and backgrounds working on B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees here — we are proud of our diversity and of our students. Quite a number of our students are multitalented. Some of their interests include acting, painting, sculpting, music, carpentry, travel, astronomy and photography (of course!), poetry, scuba diving, cooking, hiking and biking, running and mechanics. We have party folks and introspective folks, volunteers for community activities, parents of small children, members of foreign culture groups and — go Wildcats! — many, many sports enthusiasts. By the way, our Frisbee bunch isn't world class yet, but they're working on it!

    We're located on the spacious University of Arizona campus in a small, modern city in the heart of the Sonoran Desert. Come visit us and see for yourself.

    The Optics Industry

    The optics industry is experiencing a shortage of skilled optical engineers and scientists, and they have asked us to "grow the program" to produce more graduates. The University of Arizona has targeted our B.S. in OSE degree program for expansion, and we are actively working on increasing the scope and breadth of the program to attract more students.

    In the 40 years we've been educating optical scientists and engineers, our alumni have gone on to quite a variety of careers. Many love the academic life and are employed as teachers and researchers in universities in the United States and many other countries. Medical optics is a booming field;  optical technology is saving and improving lives by means of laser surgery, CAT scans, MRI technology, digital monitoring of life support systems, noninvasive equipment for fetal monitoring and glucose testing and the optical detection of cancers and tumors. Our space program is built around the importance of optics. With new designs for telescopes and other imaging systems, we are learning about the origins of our universe and are applying that knowledge to improve life for all of us. One of our graduate students recently won an award from NASA to study the design of thin optical flats that have the potential to be launched into space and used to detect small Earth-like planets outside our solar system. Computer technology, too, is another growing and in-demand optical specialty. In the near future, conventional computer technology will have exhausted its ability to build smaller and smaller chips to perform this work, so we are looking to optical technology — specifically quantum physics — for solutions. In theory, a quantum computer could simultaneously perform a thousand billion billion billion different computations.

    The Job Market

    Salaries in the optics industry are extraordinarily high and, even now, jobs are plentiful. Every week we receive an average of five or six messages, and sometimes many more, from colleagues in academia and industry telling us about job openings and asking us to circulate those messages to our soon-to-graduate students and to our alumni. If you'd like to take a look at recent openings, please check the employment section of our website. OSA and SPIE, the two major professional organizations in the optics field have excellent sites that include employment sections, so please take a moment to visit their sites also.

    If this sounds exciting to you, then think about preparing for a career in optics with us.