Industry engineers bring optical education to UCI

IRVINE, CA--A new Optical Engineering Certificate Program and Optical Instrument Design Certificate Program are now available at the University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine or UCI), thanks in part to the efforts of industry engineers Donn Silberman and Valentina Doushkina.

IRVINE, CA--A new Optical Engineering Certificate Program and Optical Instrument Design Certificate Program are now available at the University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine or UCI), thanks in part to the efforts of industry engineers Donn Silberman and Valentina Doushkina. Silberman is advisory committee chair, UC Irvine Extension Optics Programs, and also senior applications engineer at PI (Physik Instrumente; Irvine, CA). Doushkina is lead instructor for the UC Irvine Extension Optics Programs, but is also director of engineering at Qioptiq Polymer USA (La Verne, CA). As engineers and managers, they know better than anyone how important good talent is to the future of the optics industry.

Silberman and Doushkina have been involved with optical engineering and instrument design for over 25 years each and 10 years ago worked together at Corning Advanced Photonics Technologies in Orange County, CA. At Corning, they worked as senior members of the management and engineering teams brings a number of fiber optics products to market. Five years ago, they worked together again at MetroLaser, also in Orange County, where they helped bring scanning multibeam laser doppler vibrometers to the market. As part of the continuing efforts of the Optical Society of Southern California (www.ossc.org) educational outreach programs with the Optics Institute of Southern California (www.oisc.net), at which Silberman is the founding director, he and Doushkina brought the first incarnation of this new certificate program to life through the Center for Applied Competitive Technologies at Irvine Valley College. The UC Irvine Extension Science & Engineering Department now offers these courses and certificate programs to train the next generation of optical scientists and engineers.

"We have (or have had) students enrolled in the program from UC Irvine Beckman Laser Institute, MetroLaser, Newport Corporation, and a number of smaller local companies like MicroLaser and Balboa Scientific," says Silberman. "Some of these students have indicated that the instruction they are receiving is just what they need to help them provide the services--like understanding and communicating detailed optical component specifications and tolerances--that their customers require on a day-to-day basis."

A growing need

"These new optical engineering and instrument design programs at UCI were established to meet the growing needs of the local optics industry and are filling a need to have trained engineers and designers skilled in the art of design and associated analysis of lenses, advanced optical systems and optomechanical systems," says Doushkina. "Traditionally and currently, there are many firms who have very good and experienced lens and optical systems designers and engineers and also mechanical designers and engineers; however, many times there seems to be a gap between the two groups. These programs aim to fill that gap by training students on both sides of the equation."

Student prequalification for entrance into this program includes a solid fundamental knowledge of optics. For students who have not completed this type of education the program also offers introductory optics fundamentals, lasers, fiber optics, mechanical, metrology and motion control short courses.

Certificate programs

The Optical Engineering Certificate Program is centered on the optical instrument design courses that start with introductory and analytical, hands-on lens design courses to provide three basic skills: manual, design code, and design philosophy. Manual skills include first and third order calculations by hand, design code skills include prescription entry, optimization, and design analysis, and design philosophy is about selecting a starting point and developing a plan of the design. The next two courses cover optical systems design and analysis beginning with modeling coordinate breaks, multi-configurations, systems analysis, and tolerancing and athermalization.

The last two courses form the basis for the Optical Instrument Design Certificate Program and cover optomechanical systems design and bridge the gap between the optical and the mechanical systems. The students learn how to evolve their optical design into the mechanical design environment which includes material selection, tolerancing, vibration isolation, the assembly and alignment strategies; including alignment jigs and fixtures design. This certificate program is completed during a final project period where the students showcase their learning experience in a project chosen by the student and approved by a program advisor.

All students taking the required courses will be allocated a current network license for Zemax Optical Design Software. Other optical design software programs may be reviewed by the instructor and other qualified representatives. For more information on these certificate programs, go to http://oisc.net/classes.

--Gail Overton

More in Home