Category Archives: Industry & You

Posts about industry happenings and job and internship opportunities are to be posted here.

A Teacher’s Experience at Edmund Optics

Claire, far right, with her O-RETINAS RET cohort at the closing poster session.

Edmund Optics (EO), Inc. is where my industry experience took place. In 1942, EO started as a supplier of optics and science items for hobby and educational purposes. As EO celebrates its 75th anniversary, they have become a leading manufacturer and supplier of lens and optics equipment worldwide. The site visits to the Edmund Optics Tucson office included shadowing the employees of the following departments: research & development, design, and customer service.

Edmund Optics Tucson office included shadowing the employees of the following departments: research & development, design, and customer service.

I started in the research and development (R & D) department. The task on this day was to find the right combination of pressure, direction of movement, and composition of slurry to create a suitable cylindrical lens. This involved measuring a 3-dimensional surface of the blank (lens), using a light meter to take a picture of the surface of the lens, and polishing the lens by adjusting the factors involved (time, composition of the polishing slurry, the polishing pad, the pressure applied to the blank (lens) and the configuration of the movement of the polishing pad). The measurement and picture of the blank were done by machines. However, the polishing of the blank (lens) required an understanding of physics, chemistry, and mathematics, and experience in the use of the materials used.

Claire presents her project to her Edmund Optics hosts.

My second visit was to the design department. When a customer needs a specialized optics system, they talk to the design department. The process begins with the optics design engineer communicating with the customer. The design engineer then creates a design of the optics system that meets the requirements of the customer. Once an optimal choice of components has been made, the design engineer creates a blueprint of the optics system and sends it to the mechanical engineer. The job of the mechanical engineer is to analyze the optics system blueprint and make decisions on whether the design is physically possible to build. Then the mechanical engineer will consider the materials and the fabrication process and, if necessary, will make modifications to the design. If the specifications are too tight or limiting, then the mechanical engineer will send the blueprint back to the design engineer with recommendations for improvement. Once a blueprint has been finalized, it is sent to the manufacturing location in Barrington, New Jersey.

In the lab at the University of Arizona.

My third visit was to the customer support department. There are two types of employee positions in this department, customer support and product support. Most of the customer support employees have engineering degrees. A customer support employee must be familiar with the optics in the EO catalog. To learn about optics components newly-hired employees go through five weeks of training. This training includes phone etiquette, product identification in the EO catalog, and a personality evaluation. Once training is complete the customer support employee is ready to process online and phone orders. What happens when a customer calls to order an optics component but doesn’t know whether it is the right one? Then the job goes to the product support employee. These are the employees who help the customer make a product choice based on their needs. They are trained to determine whether EO has the correct part or if the part needs to be a custom made.

As I reflect on my site visits with Edmund Optics, Inc., I realize their success in the lens and optics equipment business is because they have a knowledgeable workforce. Almost every employee at EO, even the customer support employee, has an engineering degree. The employees at EO know optics. The field of optics is presently experiencing rapid growth and for EO to keep up with the demand for precision lens and optics components, they need to have well-trained and knowledgeable employees. The knowledge EO employees bring to their jobs is invaluable.

My students…must also be equipped with a toolbox filled with 21st century skills, such as critical thinking, creativity, innovation, communication, problem-solving, analysis, and research skills. It’s my job to get them there.

How have these visits impacted me professionally? The implications for me as a science teacher are I need to stay abreast of the latest educational trends, I need to have a sound knowledge of the subject matter I teach, and I need to continually update my catalog of instructional strategies. If my students are going to be ready for a career that requires them to be technologically savvy, not only must they be aware of the latest trends in their chosen field, they must also be equipped with a toolbox filled with 21st century skills, such as critical thinking, creativity, innovation, communication, problem-solving, analysis, and research skills. It’s my job to get them there.

The final project

How will I convey the importance of this message to my students? I need to communicate to my students the importance of knowing their subject matter and of developing the skills and learning strategies that will make them great employees. I can help my students know their subject matter by including instructional strategies that include components of inquiry and discovery. I can help my students further their knowledge base by including assignments that include information gathering with the use of technology. I can include lessons that combine the engineering design process with opportunities for students to report/present their findings. As I provide these types of learning opportunities for my students, I will remind them that the skills they are practicing in our classroom are the very skills they are going to need in STEM careers.

Learn more about applying to the O-RETINAS RET Program!

Learn more about Edmund Optics.

Claire McKenzie
7-12th grade teacher at
Los Alamitos Middle School

My name is Claire McKenzie. I graduated from the University of New Mexico in 1988 with a Bachelor’s degree in math education and completed the teacher certification program by 1991. My teaching career began at Manzano High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For the next 7 years, I taught middle and high school mathematics in northwestern New Mexico. I took a leave of absence to raise and homeschool my children.  Returning to teaching in 2012, I accepted a position to teach developmental math at New Mexico State University in Grants, New Mexico for three years. Once I became endorsed to teach secondary science, I accepted my current teaching assignment as the STEM physics teacher at Los Alamitos Middle School in Grants, New Mexico.

Adventures as an LLNL Intern: Jilian Nguyen

I am more than halfway through my time as an intern at Lawrence Livermore National Labs (at the time of this writing) in Livermore, California and I can’t quite believe it’s already half over! I’ve been able to meet some truly amazing people, work in a fantastic environment, and go to some awesome places in Northern California. I’m excited to share!

The Lab culture is very laid back, which isn’t something you’d expect of a place with the imposing title of “National Government Laboratory”! Student interns are given the freedom to decide when to come into work and how to best spend that time, as long as you still complete the number of required hours per week and you get your work done. Occasionally your mentor will touch base with you, but otherwise, you are not constantly supervised. There are always talks and workshops happening somewhere on lab campus, so attending those help give you a break from work while still learning something new. The atmosphere of the lab makes this a wonderful place to work!

The Lab hires a diverse set of students from all parts of the country, all majors, and all educational backgrounds. Because of this, I’ve been able to meet people who show me different ways of thinking about and seeing everything around me! I’ve had the pleasure of making good friends here that I would love to keep up with in the future. Being able to go to amazing places with other interns has made my experience that much better, I really don’t think I’d be having as much fun as I am without them!

I’ve gone to San Francisco a few times now, and each time is an adventure (it’s also a workout…those hills sure are something)! The first time, we went to Pier 39 to window shop and have good food, while enjoying the cooler weather by the ocean (Livermore is a bit too far inland to enjoy the benefits of the best heatsink there is).

Getting our picture taken with the rest of SF in the background

We went seal observing, and then walked further into the city to attend a food and culture festival in the North Beach neighborhood, where we found a lovely park (with many dogs!) and some insanely good gelato!

The next time I went to SF, the visit became a mini culinary tour of Chinatown and J-town. We started with eating dim sum in the oldest dim sum restaurant in SF (dating back from the 1920’s!), watched insane volleyball games with over 10 people per side, and then walked to a dog park in front of a beautiful church, where I was able to pet many different dogs including a sheltie, a golden, a pug, and a terrier! Afterwards we trekked to J-Town, where I had black sesame ice

You can’t go wrong with Pocky and rainbow sprinkles on top of a delicious dessert

cream in a tayaki cone (a fish-shaped cake with sweet red bean filling). We went to a Japanese restaurant to have dinner, where we ate some delicious ramen. I’m definitely not done with San Francisco yet, and I can’t wait to see what else this city has in store for me!


I am not what you would call “in shape”, but nonetheless I still ventured to Yosemite and took up the challenge of a 7-mile round trip hike with a couple of interns who helped pace me. The beauty of Yosemite astounded me, and I was in awe (and a little bit of fear) when I witnessed the awesome power of the waterfalls, crashing frigid snowmelt against sharp rocks.

Vernal Falls views from the Mist trail (click to view the full pictures, especially the right one!)

We took the Mist trail, which misted us real well at the end of the first mile with the spray from Vernal Falls soaking the steep steps up past the waterfall. I was bone-tired after the hike, but very proud of myself and my fellow interns who made the hike with me. In the over-the-top words of Matt, one of the interns I was with, we explored the cathedrals of the earth that day, and boy was it beautiful.

It is only because of a very slight slope that the water didn’t wash over the area where people were sunbathing, just feet away!

Our change in elevation was a total of about 3,400 feet from the bottom of the trail up to Nevada falls. This is an insane amount of exercise for a sedentary person such as myself

This past weekend, a group of 11 interns including me decided to take a beach day and drive to Santa Cruz to enjoy the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk! It was a hot day in Livermore and we were very happy that Santa Cruz was about 15 degrees cooler. The water was frigid, but once you stopped screaming and just kept yourself in the water for a few minutes, it was doable.

And it was fun riding the waves back towards the beach. It wasn’t too hot out on the beach and the breezes were wonderful! I also rode the 5th oldest roller coaster in the US here, since the boardwalk has a permanent carnival overlooking the beach. In the evening we found a local burger place that had a large selection of amazing burgers, which tasted SO GOOD.

A picture of the Merced river with Yosemite falls in the background at the end of the day after our hike

Especially after a day of exertion at the beach!


That has been a recap of my adventures so far, and I am so ready for whatever else is in store!

Fun at the beach!



Jilian Nguyen is an undergraduate at the University of Arizona, College of Optical Sciences. She previously worked for Pierre Blanche as an undergraduate fellow, working on holographic solutions for better internet networks. She is an active participant in optics outreach both for CIAN and for the college. For the summer of 2017 she will be an intern at Lawrence Livermore National Labs in Livermore, California. Jilian enjoys video games, Game of Thrones, and long boarding.

CIAN Lecture Series Webinar – Gilles Lamant

Integrated Photonics IC

Date:  Friday, April 28, 2017
Time:  2pm PST, 2pm AZT, 5pm EST

Please register by clicking on the link: Webinar   or copy and pasting to your browser:


Gilles Lamant

Gilles graduated from ESIEE (Ecole Supérieure D’Ingénieurs en Electronique et Electrotechnique), Paris, France in 1991.

He joined Cadence during his last year of study to work on his thesis (1989). He holds an Engineering Degree with a double major (Signal processing and component modeling).

After working in the field (including 8+ years in Japan and 2+ years in Russia), with customers in the areas of analog, Mixed-signal designs and custom layout, he joined the R&D team in San Jose. He lead the migration of the Virtuoso platform to the industry standard database (OpenAccess). He was instrumental in enabling the FinFet flow in the Virtuoso advanced node platform. About 4 years ago, he engaged into following the photonics industry, and in the last 2 years, lead the Virtuoso development and integration with Virtuoso two main partners, Lumerical and PhoeniX.

Looking forward at the next disturbance in the force is his job. He is currently learning about spin-tropics, spin-wave devices.

Gilles has about 20 patents, several as a single author.

Gilles hobbies include Lego, Pottery and doing things with my 2 twin boys (~6 yo).


The close integration of photonics ICs with their electrical counterpart has highlighted for many large companies the big gap in design methodology/productivity/predictability between the two. This has triggered an attempt to leverage the EDA investment (technical and methodology) to ramp up photonics IC design. This is very similar to what has happen on the manufacturing side, with Silicon Photonics taking advantages of all the advances made in CMOS manufacturing.

We will review several key examples of EDA methodologies (such as schematic driven layout) that can be used and leverage to increase photonics design productivity. At the same time, we will highlight some differences between the two domains, and how these are dealt with in a production environment such as Virtuoso.

Finally we will present some highlights of what can further be done to leverage the 3D, 2.5D IC methodology, signal integrity capabilities and packaging features of the electronics tools as the EPDA solution matures.

OIDA 2017 Conference & Poster Competition

The recent OIDA/CIAN Workshop sponsored by IPIC and Go!Foton on March 19th, in Los Angeles, CA was a success!

The workshop was targeted at companies and innovators considering or already investing in integrated photonics to meet their future product requirements, and who need to understand key manufacturing challenges and how they can be addressed. Read more about the conference.
Key questions addressed included:

  • What supply chain, manufacturing, and packaging challenges are common across applications?
  • What common or standardized elements exist across applications?
  • What resources are available and how can gaps be filled?

Also during the conference a poster judging competition took place. Three top posters were selected as winners.

1st Place Winner

Jordan Davis
University of California, San Diego

Project Abstract

Silicon photonic waveguides are typically designed to operate with the fundamental mode due to low cross talk with higher order modes and low propagation loss. However, currently, silicon photonics is being exploited for operation with higher order modes propagation for mode-division multiplexing (MDM).  This approach utilizes the orthogonal modes of a waveguide by encoding information both in space and wavelength to augment bandwidth limited wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) systems. Conventionally, ring resonators and grating structures are applied to achieve spatial modes conversion. In this paper, we explore an alternative approach to mode conversion using counter-directional resonators. We introduce a cavity into grating-assisted directional couplers, offering both flexibility in design and wavelength selectivity provided by resonant structures. Our compact (54.5 μm2) device is demonstrated experimentally to operate with resonant 1st and 2nd order guided TE-modes.

From the Winner

OIDA was a chance for me to visualize the hurdles that photonic startups are meeting. I learned about the opportunities that exist to bring a product to market and the prices associated with these products.

2nd Place Winner

Peter Weigel
University of California, San Diego

Project Abstract

This research focuses on bringing lithium niobate films-on-insulator (LNOI) to the foundry-fabricated silicon-on-insulator (SOI) platform. This is done by fabricating bonded SOI-LNOI integrated devices, mitigating thermal stresses in the bonded stack to allow for standard fabrication procedures, and creating a fully functioning PDK of hybrid Si-LN optical device components for third party users. This technology enables compact devices in LN and highly efficient nonlinear optical devices based in Si, both of which are unattainable with each standalone bulk material platform.

From the Winner

The OIDA workshop at OFC 2017 was an exceptional opportunity to hear of the different routes researchers in academia and industry are currently taking to grow integrated photonics from a low-production, manually-intensive industry into something akin to the booming industry that integrated electronics has been for the last five decades. I left the workshop with a feeling of profound fortune to have the chance to work in a field with such impressive men and women.

3rd Place Winner

Alexander Gazman
Columbia University

Project Abstract

This research is focused on developing silicon photonic subsystems for high-performance computers and data-center applications. To be able to integrate the silicon photonic technology and utilize its functionality, software-defined control planes ought to reconfigure their operation based on the network needs. Previously we developed a subsystem consisting of a fast tunable laser and a silicon photonic chip operating as a demultiplexer. The demonstrated FPGA-based controlled plane allowed the user to choose a desired wavelength of operation and spatial switching: unicast, multicast or broadcast. In the presented work at the OIDA we added another layer of a feedback control ensure thermal stability of our subsystem.

From the Winner

The industry speakers broaden my view on their take on the silicon photonic technology. Additional applications were presented along with commercialization challenges.


This poster session was made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Career-FIT Opportunity in Ireland – Apply Today

Career-FIT: Career Development Fellowships in the National Technology Centre Programme


ENTERPRISE IRELAND invites applicants to its new Marie Sklodowska-Curie cofunded transnational programme that offers an opportunity for experienced researchers to develop their careers in market focused applied research in Ireland’s Technology Centres, with an enterprise secondment (of 6-12 months in an enterprise Ireland client company) during the Fellowship (of 36 months). Covering a wide range of academic and industry areas aligned with Ireland’s Smart Specialisation Strategy, the 15 Technology Centres were established to encourage greater efficiency in the interaction between researchers, industry, and the public sector, in research that promotes economic growth by its direct relevance to industry agendas. Each multidisciplinary Centre offers excellent facilities and equipment for Fellow use: experienced scientific staff to support the Fellow’s research and extensive enterprise relationships on which market focused applied research can be progressed.

Career-FIT is a postdoctoral fellowship programme, part-funded by Horizon 2020and part-funded by Enterprise Ireland. A key feature of Career-FIT is the opportunity for an experienced researcher from outside Ireland to develop their careers in market focused applied research through 3-year fellowships with secondment into industry through Ireland’s Technology Centres.

Successful candidates will carry out research in Ireland and will gain inter-sectoral and interdisciplinary exposure thorough this programme.

Experienced researchers are defined as those who are in possession of a doctoral degree or have at least four years of full-time equivalent research experience.

There will be two calls under the Career-FIT programme. The first call has an application deadline of 31 March 2017. The second call will open in 2018. There will be 25 fellowships awarded in each call.

For more details and contact information see here.


CIAN Student Retreat Innovation to Market Workshop 2017

This year’s Student Retreat and Innovation to Market Workshop took place in San Francisco, CA. Students from across the CIAN universities attended to participate in the professional development and innovation workshops. Two speakers gave workshops for the students. Below is included the recording of Will Tungpagasit’s presentation on Startup Life and Bri McWhorter’s summary of best practices in formal presentations.

will-tungpagasitStartup Life: Fact and Fiction
Will Tungpagasit
Shabuta Corp.

Will Tungpagasit, engineer and entrepreneur, will share his experiences founding and building companies in Silicon Valley. He will clarify the hype surrounding the industry, what options you have to actually building a company, and specific strategies on how to innovate efficiently via entrepreneurship. Afterwards, he’ll lead a brainstorming session and meditation workshop.

bri-mcwhorterPresentation Fundamentals: Formal presentations, Elevator Pitches & Developing Your Brand
Bri McWhorter
Activate to Captivate

Using acting tools, learn the techniques that all the best public speakers utilize to craft a dynamic and compelling speech. Become familiar with the necessary vocal, articulation and breath support tools that every presenter should have. Figure out how to distill your message to clearly articulate your ideas and take advantage of every opportunity which comes your way. Explore what makes you unique, clarify your career goals and make a plan to develop your personal brand.

Defining Your Audience:
Formal Presentations, Elevator Pitches and Developing Your Brand
By Bri McWhorter

No matter where you are presenting your ideas, whether it is in a formal presentation, an elevator pitch or developing your brand, you need to think about your audience first. How you craft and deliver your message depends on who you are speaking to.

 1. Presentation

Think about what type of audience you will be addressing. Are they a technical audience or a general one? What type of jargon is appropriate? How much detail can you go into? Knowing these answers will help you develop and organize your message.

Once you have that message, you have to think about the best way to deliver it. Focus on telling your story, rather than reiterating facts. Tell the audience why they should care about your research. Get them invested in the process.

2. Elevator Pitch

In an elevator pitch, you have a very small window of time where you have to capture your audience’s attention. Have a few pitches ready depending on whom you are talking to. That way, once you know a bit about their background, you can jump into the pitch that best fits the situation.

However, it isn’t enough to have different ideas of pitches, you need to workshop them. Practice with people from different backgrounds. See what works and what doesn’t. Then adjust your message depending on that feedback. It would be a shame to miss an opportunity to connect with someone because you didn’t take the time to work on perfecting your pitches.

3. Developing Your Brand

Knowing who your target audience is will help you decide which social media platforms to utilize. There are so many options available and it can be a bit overwhelming when you are starting out. For example, if you are trying to target young millennials, Snapchat is a good place to start. However, if you are trying to reach experts in your industry, I would suggest utilizing LinkedIn first, so you can establish a larger professional network.

Once you decide who you want to target, start connecting with people. Engage with posts they’ve written. Share your own ideas by writing articles. Establish your voice and take advantage of every networking opportunity that social media provides.


During a presentation, a pitch, or building your brand, always think about your audience first. Craft your goal by thinking about things from their perspective. This will help you create, distil and deliver your message in the most effective way.

Lumerical hosts Webinar

web_lcml-feb2017Recently, photonic design methodologies incorporating mature electronic design automation (EDA) software with optical design and simulation tools have emerged to support reliable photonic integrated circuit (PIC) design. Critical to any of these design methodologies is a Process Design Kit (PDK). The PDK provides the required fundamental information to produce a design based on a specific foundry process, from component geometries and cells for layout, to design rules, process variability data and simulation models. Essential to first-time-right designs, and the foundation of reliable fabless design methodologies for PICs is the inclusion of a calibrated photonic compact model library (CML) in the photonic PDK. The photonic CML enables a separation of component design from circuit design where PIC designers can scale complexity and optimize circuit performance and yield, confident that the underlying component geometry, material composition, and component design physics are represented by the CML, thereby ensuring reliable fabrication and predictable operation of their designs.

Lumerical’s suite of photonic design tools provides an infrastructure that supports the development and distribution of CMLs for PIC simulation and design. Typically, a CML is built upon a combination of accurate component-level simulation results and experimentally measured data. Lumerical works with leading integrated photonics foundries and researchers to develop modeling methods and libraries of the most advanced integrated photonics components.

We are hosting a complimentary webinar to introduce the Lumerical Compact Model Library (LCML), a reference library of common photonic elements and corresponding model development workflows. The webinar will show users how the LCML can be used to:

  • develop foundry-calibrated models for Process Design Kits (PDKs);
  • develop custom components and models for internal libraries;
  • and, design innovative photonic circuits and systems.

Two sessions will be held on February 7, 2017. Complete session details, as well as registration information, can be found here:

To evaluate Lumerical simulation products, visit our Download Center and register for a 30-day trial.

As a photonic simulation software provider, Lumerical develops tools which enable product designers to understand light, and predict how it behaves within complex structures, circuits, and systems. Our current simulation software suite offers optical (FDTD Solutions, MODE Solutions), electrical (DEVICE CT), and thermal (DEVICE HT) simulation for component design, as well as circuit simulation for system design (INTERCONNECT).