Photonic Science & Engineering at UCF



The College of Optics and Photonics at the University of Central Florida, and the Florida Science Olympiad announce a partnership to promote the new Bachelor of Science in Photonic Science & Engineering (PSE).


This partnership includes the addition of Optics as an event in middle and high school as a trial. At the state competition, Gold Medal winners will receive an award from the College of Optics and Photonics.


Photonics is the “engineering applications of light,” involving the use of light to detect, transmit, store, and process information; to capture and display images; and to generate energy. Photonics can be found almost everywhere:

  • A cell phone can enable video chats and perform an Internet search, with optics and photonics playing a key part. The most obvious contribution of optics is the high-resolution display and the camera. The cell phone uses a wireless radio connection to a local cell tower, and the signal is converted to an optical data stream for transmission along a fiber-optic network. A simple internet search involves the use of more than 1 million lasers.
  • People are surrounded by objects whose manufacture was enabled by highly accurate directed-energy light. Nearly every microprocessor has been fabricated using optical lithographic techniques, and in nearly all advanced manufacturing, high-power lasers are used for cutting and welding.
  • Optics is rapidly changing medical imaging. Swallowed capsules can travel through the body and send images back to a doctor for diagnosis. Today, the relatively young field of optical coherence tomography has the potential to save thousands of lives annually by providing dramatically better images for early detection of disease. Eye, dental, and brain surgery now uses focused lasers for ablating, cutting, vaporizing, and suturing.
  • The future of photonics may lead to advanced quantum computing, biological 3-D printing, small handheld projectors, and even Star Trek type tractor beams.

The Sunshine State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) contain many areas of photonics-related content: The electromagnetic spectrum, wave properties, solar cells and energy production, imaging with the electromagnetic spectrum, and eyesight.  In almost every science class there is an opportunity to teaching using photonics.  Photonics Science & Engineering stands at the intersection of the NGSS’s engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and cross cutting concepts. 


Photonics jobs are in high demand.  There are 270 photonics companies in Florida, but many more employ photonics engineers if they do any work in manufacturing, solar energy, displays, medical diagnostics and treatment, lasers, or communication.  Average salaries are $109K.  With a bachelor of science, graduates easily earn starting salaries of $50-70K or more.


Click here for more information about the Bachelor of Science in Photonic Science & Engineering.