Experiments in Optics and Photonics Engineering Education at Penn State

Laurel O'Neill, Tim Kane

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


During the fall semester of 2022 an experimental first-year seminar on applied optics was taught for the first time at The Pennsylvania State University. The ongoing goals of the course are to recruit students to electrical engineering and to retain them while steering students towards a specialization in optics and photonics. This was attempted through hands-on experiments demonstrating basic concepts in optics, and tours of laboratories on campus that demonstrate the wide range of applications of electrical and optical engineering. Experiments included aligning fiber optics, building telescopes, building pinhole cameras, experiments with fluorescence spectroscopy, transmission spectroscopy, and demonstrations of polarization. In addition to the first year seminar, the following semester a senior level experiment-based course on applied spectroscopy was offered as well. In addition to experiments, the senior level course includes peer instruction. While the audience for the two courses differ, the goals are much the same to recruit and retain students in optics and photonics. The effectiveness of course presentation in each case is evaluated based on student response and feedback. The two courses' materials will be compared and improvements will be discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSeventeenth Conference on Education and Training in Optics and Photonics, ETOP 2023
EditorsDavid J. Hagan, Mike McKee
ISBN (Electronic)9781510666719
StatePublished - 2023
Event17th Conference on Education and Training in Optics and Photonics, ETOP 2023 - Cocoa Beach, United States
Duration: May 15 2023May 18 2023

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


Conference17th Conference on Education and Training in Optics and Photonics, ETOP 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityCocoa Beach

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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