• MENU
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 the nation's first Optical Engineering degree, 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

Rose-Hulman’s 2018 Graduates Finding Rapid ROI in Landing Jobs, High Salaries

physics and optical engineering

Students’ Innovative Optical Headlight Design Wins Global Contest

physics and optical engineering

Siahmakoun Recognized as Endowed Faculty Innovation Chair

Summer Physics Refresh

Need to refresh your physics memory? Or did your high school drop the ball on physics? Either way, it’s Physics 090 to the rescue! This highly flexible, online, 11-week summer course will allow you to work at your own pace as you stretch your stiff physics muscles and get you into tip-top shape before your freshman year! 

The class is:

  • Student focused! Like all courses at Rose-Hulman, your professor is there for you!
  • Convenient and flexible! We think you’ll need between 10 and 15 hours per week.
  • A great way to transition to college and get to know the Rose-Hulman culture.
  • Limited to 24 students.

Class runs from May 30 - August 16 with a well-earned summer break July 4-12. Topics we’ll cover include units, significant figures, vectors, 1 and 2 dimensional motion, kinematic equations, objects in free fall, motion in a circle, Newton’s laws, torques, angular momentum and more. Physics 090 will sharpen your physics knowledge using algebra, not calculus, so you can focus on the fundamental concepts of physics. The course is designed as a college prep course for physics--it does not count toward your Rose-Hulman GPA or earn academic credits.

Cost is $1634--a 50% discount on regular summer tuition rates. (Early cancelation fee is $150.) If you’re ready to tone up your physics muscles this summer, register now!

Note: If you’re going to be overseas during the course, please check with Professor Kosta Popovic before registering so we’re sure you’ll have the internet access you’ll need.

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.

Male student uses scale to weigh item.


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.

Engineering Physics

Engineering physics at Rose-Hulman provides students with a unique opportunity to learn the foundation concepts of physics and make a concentrated study in micro- and nano-technology.

Male student wearing goggles adjusts optics device.

Optical Engineering

We are one of the few colleges in the country to offer an optical engineering program, and were the first college to have an accredited program (ABET) in optical engineering. 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.

Colorful graphics with female student in science lab

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

Our MiNDs laboratory will give you research opportunities in the area of micro/nano technology through courses and hands-on experiments in fabrication, characterization and modeling of micro/nano devices and systems.

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.

Woman reaches forward to adjust equipment.

Aerospace Engineer

Aerospace engineers design, construct, and test aircraft, missiles, and spacecraft. An aerospace engineer may need to evaluate materials and equipmentto ensure that they are optimal for use in aerospace applications.

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

Return to Top