News Feature

Lighting the Future

High-tech employers excited about photonics programs

Bridgewater State University is about to offer an exciting new option for physics students that can open doors to potential employment opportunities.

BSU is already known for its strong physics program, but students majoring in the discipline often find their options are limited upon graduation if they do not want to pursue a terminal degree or work in the research field.

That’s all about to change.

The university is introducing a new photonics program and industry leaders are taking notice.

“Expanding into an engineering direction will greatly benefit Bridgewater’s breadth of offerings for strong math- and science-oriented students,” said Turan Erdogan, president of Plymouth Grating Laboratory Inc. (PGL). "The myriad of companies in Eastern Massachusetts who develop photonics products, like lasers, or just use photonics technologies as tools, will benefit from a source of local talent who graduate ready to hit the ground running.”

Learn more about Photonics and Optical Engineering at BSU

Currently Bridgewater State offers a concentration in photonics for physics majors and a minor in photonics. Starting next fall, BSU is gearing up to offer a bachelor’s engineering program in optics and photonics.

“The understanding, teaching, development and application of photonics technologies will better connect BSU with the high-tech communication, computing, biotech, pharmaceutical and defense industries in Massachusetts and throughout the world,” said Paul W. Juodawlkis, assistant leader at Quantum Information and Integrated Nanosystems Group, MIT Lincoln Laboratory.

For those not in know, photonics is the harnessing and application of light to enable devices and systems in everyday life.

“You are leveraging this fiber-optic backbone every time you use your smartphone to make a call, check your Facebook page, or search for a Mexican restaurant in the local area,” Juodawlkis said. “In the future, photonics will have increasing impact on communications, sensing, manufacturing, energy generation, and information processing through the improvement of photonic components.”

For Bridgewater to be part of this next wave of technology is an asset to both students and industry leaders, local employers said.

Over the years many BSU students have interned at PGL, with some moving on to join the company as full-time employees. Erdogan said they intend to continue to look at Bridgewater for potential prospects.

“PGL believes we will be able to hire more students in the future, especially when those students have more specific training in optics and photonics,” Erdogan said.

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