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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

The undergraduate optics course at Millersville University
Author(s): Tariq H. Gilani; Natalia M. Dushkina

Paper Abstract

For many years, there was no stand alone course in optics at Millersville University (MU). In the fall of 2007, the Physics Department offered for the first time PHYS 331: Fundamentals in Optics, a discovery based lab course in geometrical, physical and modern optics. This 300-level, 2 credits course consists of four contact hours per week including one-hour lecture and three hours laboratory. This course is required for BS in physics majors, but is open also to other science majors, who have the appropriate background and have met the prerequisites. This course deals with fundamental optics and optical techniques in greater depth so that the student is abreast of the activities in the forefront of the field. The goal of the course is to provide hands-on experience and in-depth preparation of our students for graduate programs in optics or as a workforce for new emerging high-tech local industries. Students learn applied optics through sequence of discovery based laboratory experiments chosen from a broad range of topics in optics and lasers, as the emphasis is on geometrical optics, geometrical aberrations in optical systems, wave optics, microscopy, spectroscopy, polarization, birefringence, laser generation, laser properties and applications, and optical standards. The peer-guided but open-ended approach provides excellent practice for the academic model of science research. Solving problems is embedded in the laboratory part as an introduction to or a conclusion of the experiment performed during the lab period. The homework problems are carefully chosen to reflect the most important relations from the covered material. Important part of the student learning strategy is the individual work on a final mini project which is presented in the class and is included in the final grading. This new course also impacted the department’s undergraduate research and training programs. Some of the individual projects were extended to senior research projects in optics as part of the senior research and seminar courses, PHYS 492 and PHYS 498, which are required for graduation for all physics majors. The optics course also provides basic resources for both research and training in the classical and modern optics of high-school students and K-12 teachers. The successful implementation of the optics course was secured by a budget of about $60,000.

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 June 2009
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 9666, 11th Education and Training in Optics and Photonics Conference, 966618 (5 June 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.2208036
Show Author Affiliations
Tariq H. Gilani, Millersville Univ. (United States)
Natalia M. Dushkina, Millersville Univ. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9666:
11th Education and Training in Optics and Photonics Conference
K. Alan Shore, Editor(s)

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