Optical Science and Engineering Curriculum at NJIT
Barat, Robert, Federici, John, Johnson, Anthony, Grebel, Haim, Chang, Timothy, Journal of Engineering Education
Applied optics is an enabling technology for engineers and scientists, while becoming more widespread as an interdisciplinary tool for teaching, research, and industry. New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) currently offers its Optical Science and Engineering (OPSE) curriculum created by an interdisciplinary team of research faculty with a Combined Research-Curriculum Development (CRCD) grant from the National Science Foundation. The OPSE teaching laboratory is also open to precollege students and high school science teachers through outreach programs. Composed of two upper level undergraduate courses and one graduate level course, the OPSE curriculum teaches fundamental and applied optics to an interdisciplinary student audience. The courses combine lecture and experiments in which students are challenged to learn and apply optics within their own fields as well as others. These courses form a unified sequence with their own, stand-alone designation (OPSE) within the NJIT registration scheme. They are often taken as technical electives, though the undergraduate pair is required for Applied Physics and Engineering Science students minoring in optics. Enrollment is distributed among Applied Physics, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Computer and Information Science, Mechanical Engineering, and Biology majors. The OPSE curriculum continues to receive excellent support from local industry as well as the NJIT community. Laboratory manuals, course notes, and outlines are distributed on the Internet at www.njit.edu/Directory/Centers/OPSE.
A recent National Science Foundation (NSF) workshopl on "Optical Science and Engineering: New Directions and Opportunities in Research and Education" recommended an emphasis in optics research and education because "Optical Science and Engineering is an enabling technology-that is, a technology with applications to many scientific disciplines and with the potential to contribute in significant ways to those disciplines". Furthermore, optical science and engineering is expected to have a significant impact on long-term national goals. One workshop panel (optical and photonic materials and devices) recommended that Optics be reintroduced into the undergraduate curriculum and be supported by a laboratory course. In addition, optics technology represents viable employment potential for new graduates according to an American Institute of Physics survey of initial employment.
Since optical-based techniques are increasingly appearing in all levels of technology, processes, and products, it is important for engineering and applied science students to have at least an elementary working knowledge of the governing optical principles and major applications of such techniques.
This paper outlines the NJIT initiative to revitalize the optical sciences and engineering curriculum by focusing course development on the research interests of the multidisciplinary engineering faculty whose work represents emerging applications of optical technologies to their respective disciplines.
Prior to 1996, a general program in Optical Sciences and Engineering (OPSE) at the undergraduate and graduate level was not offered at NJIT. Students would learn necessary optical principles on an "as needed" basis for their courses in various sciences and engineering. However, over a dozen faculty members have substantial research programs using various aspects of optical science and engineering. In many cases, faculty members had difficulty incorporating undergraduate and graduate students into their research programs because the students lacked the appropriate background in elementary applied optics.
In order to address the need for an optical science and engineering curriculum to "enable" our graduates for research as well as the job market, an interdisciplinary team of research faculty obtained …
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Publication information: Article title: Optical Science and Engineering Curriculum at NJIT. Contributors: Barat, Robert - Author, Federici, John - Author, Johnson, Anthony - Author, Grebel, Haim - Author, Chang, Timothy - Author. Journal title: Journal of Engineering Education. Volume: 87. Issue: 5 Publication date: January 1, 1998. Page number: 575+. © AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR ENGINEERING EDUCATION Oct 2008. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.