Optical Science and Engineering Program (OSE)

Optical science touches many aspects of everyday life —– from fiber optic communications and medical imaging to tattoo removal.

In 1983, the SOE recognized the importance of these specialized engineers and started the Optical Science and Engineering Program (OSE). The graduate degree program, a collaboration between the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Physics and Astronomy, is the school’s oldest interdisciplinary graduate program.

luke-lesterUNM is one of only a handful of universities in the country that offers a master’s and doctoral degree in optics and photonics. “Early on we recognized that there was a lot of knowledge and skill in the government labs and local industry, and many people were interested in optics-related research,” explains Luke Lester, chair of the OSE. “We wanted to create this program to satisfy that need and to create the next generation of people to work in optics.”

The program, which offers about 30 courses, is popular with students because optics has broad applications in biology, medicine, mechanical engineering, communications, and astronomy. Participants choose from three concentrations: optical science, photonics, or imaging science. An average of five doctoral candidates and a dozen master’s candidates graduate from the program annually.

chang-yi-linChang-Yi Lin, a doctoral candidate, enrolled in UNM in 2005 specifically to be a part of the OSE program. Lin’s research focuses on the semiconductor quantum dot laser that generates high-speed optical pulses to be used in computer chip interconnects and optical communications. He says the program’s interdisciplinary approach gives him opportunities now and will open doors as he searches for a position as a corporate research scientist. “Because of the OSE program, I have a strong background in both the microwave world and also in optics, so I have an advantage over other people who may have only worked in one field,” says Lin.

Device layout of a semiconductor quantum dot mode-locked laser.