Male student wearing goggles adjusts laser.

Physics & Optical Engineering

Our Physics & Optical Engineering program is at the leading edge of photonics and is THE place for students interested in light-based technologies such as fiber optics, spy satellite technology, optical computing, and silicon photonics.

Jump light years ahead

We offered one of the nation's first Optical Engineering degrees, meaning we were training optical engineers before anyone knew we needed them!

As a major in physics, engineering physics or optical engineering, you'll work in our state-of-the-art MiNDS lab starting Year One. You'll also get hands-on experience in a variety of specialized fields, including laser systems, fiber optics, spy satellite technology, acoustics, quantum, and optical computing. 

You'll also have access to our Oakley Observatory -- one of the finest undergrad observatories in the country. 

Department News

Learn about the latest happenings, student research and more in physics & optical engineering at Rose-Hulman.

physics and optical engineering
Cody Brelage holding the large, red automotive light that earned outstanding project honors.

Young Optical Engineering Student Comes Up With Bright Ideas

physics and optical engineering
The Mars Rover is shown transposed on the Martian surface next to images of Brian Monacelli meeting with students at Rose-Hulman.

NASA Optical Engineer Alumnus Hopes Mars Mission Unlocks Mystery of Red Planet Life

physics and optical engineering

Students Honored for Excellence in Physics, Optical Engineering

Majors & Minors

We offer undergraduate majors, minors, and certificates in physics, engineering physics and optical engineering, as well as a graduate program in optical engineering.

Learn about program accreditation here.

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Bachelor of Science in Physics

The physics curriculum is designed to develop a strong foundation in classical and modern physics, which will serve as a basis for future specialization, for additional study at the graduate level, and for design and development work in industrial laboratories.

Female student works with device in physics lab.

Bachelor of Science in Engineering Physics

ABET_Engineering_Accreditation_CommissionEngineering physics at Rose-Hulman provides students with a unique opportunity to learn the foundation concepts of physics, apply them to design, and make a concentrated study in semiconductors, micro- and nano-technology. (We work in the clean room—aka the MiNDS lab- a lot)

Male student wearing goggles adjusts optics device.

Bachelor of Science in Optical Engineering

ABET_Engineering_Accreditation_CommissionWe are one of the few colleges in the country to offer an undergraduate optical engineering program. Our program provides a firm foundation for those interested in continuing their studies in optics at the graduate level, as well as for those going into industry. 

Female student solves physics equations in notebook.

Minors & Certificates

You can tailor your educational experience by adding a minor or certificate in specific areas of interest.

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Why Science at Rose-Hulman?

Because here, you'll do real research driven by your interests with awesome professors.

Facilities & Resources

We believe the best way to learn is by doing, so we place emphasis on lab work with a hands-on approach. Our teaching, research, and MiNDs laboratories, and observatory, are stocked with modern equipment. Here, you’ll have the opportunity for hands-on undergraduate research experiences that most schools reserve for graduate students.

Male student wearing goggles aims laser in optics lab.

Research Labs

Our photonics, fiber, acoustics, and semiconductor magneto-optics laboratories are equipped with leading edge technology for undergraduate and graduate research projects.

Two female students work with optics devices in a laboratory as male professor looks on.

Teaching Labs

Our state-of-the-art introductory physics laboratories have modern equipment to help you master the concepts you learn in the classroom.

Three students in clean room-style hair covers, face masks, and lab coats examine items in the laboratory.

MiNDs Lab

Starting as a freshman, our MiNDs laboratory will give you opportunities in the area of semiconductor and micro/nano technology through courses and hands-on experiments in fabrication, characterization and modeling of micro/nano devices and systems. There are numerous professors performing state of the art research with undergraduates within the cleanroom year round.

Large telescope in the foreground pointing at blue sky with other telescopes in background.

Oakley Observatory

Located just east of the main campus, Oakley Observatory is equipped for teaching, as well as conducting research in variable star photometry, searching for supernovae or searching for comets.

Careers in Physics & Optical Engineering

A degree in physics, engineering physics or optical engineering will give you the foundation for acareer with companies on the leading edge of technological advances, or to pursue graduate studies.

Man wearing goggles works with red laser in darkened lab.

Laser Engineer

A laser engineer designs, builds, and tests high-energy manufacturing or research laser equipment. A laser engineer will often collaborate with other technical personnel to assess and meet the needs of their client.

Students in clean room attire examine a metal disc

Semiconductor Process Engineer

Semiconductor Process Engineers design, develop and test the chips that go into smartphones, computers, and anything else connected to the internet. A Semi Engineer researches new manufacturing equipment, develops new processes, and acts as a sleuth to make the process run smoother.

Two researchers in clean room-style hair coverings, goggles, and lab coats use tongs to handle a metal disc.

Research Physicist

Research physicists study physical phenomena, through observation and experiments, and apply physical laws and theories and analysis to solve problems. They work in a variety of industries including medical and defense.

Dr. Duree poses with his book Optics for Dummies.

Dr. Galen Duree

Dr. Duree, head of the Department of Physics and Optical Engineering, joined the faculty of Rose-Hulman in 1999. His areas of expertise include photorefractive phenomena, nonlinear optics, laser physics, ultra-short pulse laser phenomena. He authored the book Optics for Dummies an "approachable introduction to optical science, methods, and applications."

Campus map

Contact Us

Department of Physics & Optical Engineering
Moench Hall CL106
5500 Wabash Avenue
Terre Haute, IN 47803

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