Electrical Engineering 119 — Introduction to Optical Engineering (3 Units)

Course Overview


From Professor T. K. Gustafsonā€™s introduction to the course: EE119 introduces fundamental physical principles of both classical and modern optics as well as principles of optical design used in the engineering of optical systems. It also provides exposure to practical aspects of optical materials and devices. Its intention is to provide a foundation of basic principles, design methodology, and practical considerations needed to design or use optical instruments in engineering practice.


  • Physics 7C

Topics Covered

  • Introduction to the propagation of light
  • Lenses and aberrations
  • Simple optical instruments
  • Basic diffraction
  • Gaussian beam propagation
  • Coherent sources
  • Detectors
  • Polarization and light modulators
  • Fiber optics
  • Partial coherence
  • Interference
  • Holography
  • Optics and nanostructures


Course Work

Varies significantly across instructors and semesters - Lab demonstrations - Midterms - Final exam

Time Commitment

There are 3 hours of lecture and 1 hour of discussion per week. In addition, there are a number of half-hour lab demonstrations throughout the semester

HKN Tips

Choosing the Course


Electrical Engineering - Optics

When to take

Because Physics 7C is a requirement for this course, it should be taken during sophomore year at the earliest. Although the concepts may be more difficult, the course load is light enough to be taken concurrently with lower-division courses.

What next?

Usefulness for Research or Internships

Additional Comments

As there is limited information about this course, it is highly recommended (as with all courses that are tailored to a specific field) to talk to the professor who is scheduled to teach the course and directly discuss with him or her what the course will entail. Although we provide course guides, these only scratch the surface of what the course can really offer, and the professor can give you a better idea of what to expect.