Club Spotlight: Optics not ominous: a window into OSA’s ocular world

Courtesy of Anthony Yee

UR’s Institute of Optics seems to constantly be in the news, whether a graduate student has developed some cutting-edge technology or the Laboratory for Laser Energetics began new research.

While many people know about the Institute, not everyone has heard about the Optics Society of America (OSA) or what it has been up to these days.

Under President of OSA and junior Anthony Yee, UR’s OSA has integrated itself into the Rochester community. The club’s membership has increased significantly since it was founded in 1980, creating a strong society of engineers at UR.

Yee spoke to the Campus Times about the club and the events it holds both on campus and in the greater Rochester area.

In layman’s terms, what is the Optical Society of America?

We are a pre-professional, student chapter of the Optics Society of America — the national organization.

What are the main initiatives of the OSA?

To promote awareness of optics to the University and the community.

What events does the OSA have coming up on campus?

Our big spring event is the annual Photon Cup, which is a soccer game between the Physics Department and the Optics Department involving undergraduates, graduates and professors all playing on the field at the same time. It’s our fun way to determine which department is the best and last year it ended in a tie, so this year is a big year. The photon cup is [being held on] Friday, April 6.

What activities does the OSA participate in?

We have something called the “Optics Suitcase,” which is a set of demos about optics and engineering in general, which we present to local fourth and fifth grade classes to get them interested in engineering and science. We also try to teach students that optics isn’t as scary as it seems.

How does the OSA associate with the greater optics community?

We try to connect current students with alums of the program. We also try and visit local optics companies and learn where an optics degree can take you.

What are some past projects that the OSA has worked on?

We have a telescope project that some students started a few years ago. They’re building this telescope, which is designed to be constantly improved and modified. They’ve built the basic structure and the mirrors but almost all of them have graduated now. If people are interested in taking over the project, we need some mechanical and electrical engineers to play around with it.

What is your favorite OSA social event?

We play laser tag every semester and Professor [James] Fienup [of the Institute of Optics] always beats everyone. He appears to shoot out of nowhere and ends up getting everyone. Students have tried to figure out ways to use optics to improve their game, but have failed.

Sokol is a member of the class of 2013.

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