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Development Of An Electrical Engineering Technology Photonics Track

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Electrical ET Curriculum

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.465.1 - 11.465.8



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Paper Authors


Alfred Ducharme University of Central Florida

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Dr. Alfred D. Ducharme is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Technology and the College of Optics and Photonics at the University of Central Florida. He is currently the Program Coordinator for the BSEET – Photonics program instituted in 2003. His research interests include solid-state lighting, imaging system testing, and laser speckle. Dr. Ducharme earned his B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Central Florida (CREOL). Dr. Ducharme was awarded the Rudolf Kingslake award from SPIE in 1995.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Development of an Electrical Engineering Technology Photonics Track


In this paper, we will detail the development of a Photonics Track designed to meet the need for Photonics Technologists in industry. The degree concentration includes eight upper level photonics courses that were chosen to provide a well rounded education in all aspects of photonics. The details of each course and why it was included in the program will be discussed. The program has been offered for two years and the first degrees have now been awarded. An assessment of the success of these graduates will also be presented.


Photonics is a broad term applied to all fields involving the generation, manipulation, and detection of light. Light has been an area of study for thousands of years but the use of photonics such as mirrors and lenses has only been applied in the last 700 years. It wasn’t until 1960, with the first demonstration of the laser that the field of photonics began to mature. In the last three decades, photonics has begun to emerge from the laboratory to solve more common industrial and commercial problems. Examples would be the Compact Disc and Digital Versatile Disc players and recorders. Today, almost all commercial products involve some level of photonics technology from simple light emitters such as light emitting diodes to more complex holographic optical elements used to diffuse light in rear projection televisions. This recent exponential growth of photonic technologies has left a deficit of qualified human resources. Traditionally, photonics was only taught at the graduate level. As photonics has moved from the laboratory to commercial products the need for Associate and Baccalaureate graduates has subsequently increased.

In the past, photonics technologies were only used in what is considered high-technology systems. Today, photonics is used in the thousands of commonly used products to solve a variety of everyday problems. In the last few decades, new ways of transmitting and manipulating light or photons have been developed. The use of electrons for transmitting data across the world proved to be inadequate with the increased need for telecommunications for phone and Internet. Now most communication is made using thin glass fibers called fiber optics. Most technologists agree that the electron was the workhorse of the last century and the photon is the workhorse of the next century.1

The Center for Occupational Research and Development (CORD) is a national nonprofit organization providing innovative changes in education to prepare students for greater success in careers and higher education. In 2000 the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded CORD to complete a program called the Scientific and Technological Education in Photonics (STEP).2 A major part of this program was the completion of a national survey of the need for Photonics Technicians. The goal of this survey was to predict the number of photonics technicians needed by the year 2005. The results of the survey showed that the need would grow by approximately 6000 technicians per year for a total of approximately 31,000 additional workers by 2005.

Ducharme, A. (2006, June), Development Of An Electrical Engineering Technology Photonics Track Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--381

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