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Fiber Optics Course For Undergraduate Electrical Engineering Students

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

New Trends in ECE Education

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.630.1 - 14.630.9



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Paper Authors

author page

Lihong (Heidi) Jiao Grand Valley State University

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

Fiber Optics Course for Undergraduate Electrical Engineering Students


This paper describes in detail the course objectives, outline, and assessment. The course introduces students to the fundamentals of fiber optics, properties of optical fibers, passive and active optical devices, and optical communication systems design. In completion of the course, students will be able to apply knowledge of mathematics and physics in the area of fiber optics, carry out experiments and analyze data, and utilize the techniques and skills learned for real life engineering practice. The course takes the format of lecture plus lab activities. Students not only gain knowledge in this area but also obtain hands-on experiences on splicing optical fiber, diagnosing the health of a fiber link, and designing a single-channel optical communication system. Initial student feedback indicates that the course goals have been successfully met.


In recent years, many applications in the areas of video, voice and data transmission call for high-speed, high-bandwidth and reliable telecommunication network. Web applications such as iTunes, YouTube, and MySpace are generating an increasingly higher use of bandwidth. Enterprises’ computing system throughput is doubling about every two years1. To meet the demand, optical fiber has emerged as the leading telecommunication media and fiber optics and opto-electronic devices have become important basic components in optical communication networks. As the demand on bandwidth continues to grow, optical networks need to be expanded and optimized to support the growth.

The demand for students with knowledge in fiber optics is growing rapidly. In the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) advisory board meetings, representatives from industry expressed the need of students in fiber optics area. To respond to industry needs, School of Engineering at Grand Valley State University developed a new EE elective course titled “Introduction to Fiber Optics” which was first offered in Summer 2008.

In this paper, a brief overview of fiber optic network is presented first, followed by detailed description of course objectives, outline, and assessment and future modifications.

Overview of Optical Communication Network

Today’s optical communication network carries a mixture of voice, video, and data signals. The distance that signals travel ranges from less than a mile to thousands of miles. To better manage different signals, optical communication network is classified into four sub-networks. They are undersea network, long-haul network, metropolitan network, and access network as illustrated in Figure 1.

Undersea network crosses the ocean and connects continents. The optical fibers used in this network are special submarine fiber optic cables. These cables span hundreds or thousands of miles linked by optical amplifiers, repeaters and regenerators. Submarine cables and related

Jiao, L. H. (2009, June), Fiber Optics Course For Undergraduate Electrical Engineering Students Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4722

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