A new undergraduate degree program in Photonic Science and Engineering started in the fall of 2013 at the University of Central Florida. It is the State of Florida’s only such program, and one of only a few in the nation.

Photonics plays a huge role in the Florida’s economy, with over 270 photonics companies employing over 5,000 engineers and scientists. The formation of Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers (CREOL), more than 26 years ago, and the foundation of the College of Optics and Photonics in 2004 has aided many of these companies. CREOL has helped filled the need for a highly trained workforce that require specialized skills in optics and photonics and this need continues to grow.

This new bachelor of science degree in Photonic Science and Engineering, which is a joint program between the College of Optics and Photonics and the College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS) at UCF, is envisioned to enable students to analyze and design optical and laser systems for a broad set of applications. Enrolled students will take a common set of engineering courses along with key courses in electrical engineering and specialized photonics classes.  “It’s a unique venture to have a collaborative program between two colleges. When the students graduate, they will be alumni of both colleges,” said Mike McKee who is the associate director of the program.

Graduates are expected to work for employers that create photonic and photonic-enabled products for applications including manufacturing, healthcare, telecommunication and information technologies, defense and security, and entertainment.  The new degree also will help companies in these areas to reduce the need to train new hires who are often electrical engineers but need additional skills in photonics.

The photonics courses will be offered by CREOL’s faculty who are world renowned in this field.  The strong industrial connections established by CREOL will offer students opportunities for internships and jobs.  The CREOL Industrial Affiliates program has more than 60 members.

An annual event, the CREOL Industrial Affiliates Day, is attended by all faculty and students of the College, and typically draws 200-300 people from all parts of the optics/photonics industry, government, and academic communities around the world as well as key researchers from CECS and other research centers at UCF.

This year, the meeting is scheduled on March 7, 2014, and the technical symposium features advances in a number of optics and photonics areas including nanophotonics for biomedical applications, silicon photonics, fiber lasers, and optical ceramic lasers. Distinguished speakers from academia, and industry are being invited for this purpose.  This one-day program will also include a panel discussion on “Photonics Education,” tours of the College’s extensive labs, and a graduate student poster session.  For more details, see http://www.creol.ucf.edu/Partnerships/Affiliates/AffiliatesDay2014/.