Go East, Young Engineers
Tucson Natives Travel to New Jersey for Summer at Cutting-Edge Optics Company
Stephanie Guzman and Cory Boone spend the school year buried in the books, learning optical science and engineering at the University of Arizona’s College of Optical Sciences. For many students, nine months of grueling labs, late-night homework sessions, and filling their heads with complex equations would be the signal for one thing: some well-deserved time off. Ms. Guzman and Mr. Boone, both born and raised in Tucson, chose a different path. They’re both spending the summer working with Edmund Optics, one of the premier optical components companies in the world.
Neither Guzman nor Boone started their college careers as students of optics, but both were enticed by the opportunities offered by the College of Optical Sciences (also known by the acronym OSC). Boone, who entered college as a mechanical engineering major, was first tempted to study optics because “the building itself was amazing and the demos and presentations I saw were really interesting.” A little more research convinced him to make the change. Guzman, initially an elementary education major, first had her interest piqued in an introductory optics course where, she says, “I found myself excited about every subject covered in this course.” Both have followed that interest beyond their coursework and into summer internships, where, as Boone says, “I hope to gain professional experience at a great company and a better understanding of what my career will be like after college.”
Edmund Optics, a company that manufactures precision optical components, has a Tucson facility — and a strong presence on the University of Arizona campus. The company headquarters, however, are in Barrington, New Jersey, where both Guzman and Boone are working.
Edmund Optics is a long-time member of the OSC’s Industrial Affiliates program, which allows them the chance to present their capabilities to students on campus. It also gives the company the option to interview potential interns, an opportunity appreciated by Kenneth Barber, an engineering manager with Edmund Optics. Through follow-up from Edmund Optics’ on-campus interviews, Barber learned that “both Cory and Stephanie showed much interest in the type of work we were looking to do over the summer and they are both innovative, forward-thinking, and dynamic students.”
The synergistic relationship between companies like Edmund Optics and the OSC’s Industrial Affiliates program goes beyond just presenting internship opportunities. “Being a U of A Industrial Affiliate gives us a means to help shape programs within the University to create even more talented students for us to choose from.”
Apparently it’s working, because both Guzman and Boone have been able to apply their coursework to their summer jobs. “My summer tasks are meshing very well with my coursework,” said Guzman. In addition to coursework with lens design software, she says, “the lab courses I have taken at school have given me skills and confidence that will allow my lab work at Edmund Optics to run smoothly.”
Boone’s summer project also involves lens development — a task directly supported by his coursework. But it goes deeper than just the course content. Boone has found his summer work to be “much more dependent on problem solving and critical thinking than memorizing equations.”
This kind of collaboration between industry and academia is an example of why Kaye Rowan, Senior Director of Development for the College of Optical Sciences, is excited about the Industrial Affiliates program. “The program,” she said, “is a true win-win-win, as the OSC, our Industrial Affiliates, and our students all benefit from the relationship. For example, one way the OSC benefits is that affiliate members help us ensure that our coursework stays relevant in the rapidly changing landscape of industrial optics.”
Edmund Optics’ Barber talks of one of the benefits of membership in the Industrial Affiliates program: “We give our interns an understanding of our values and culture. They learn the type of company we are and if our work environment is something they could thrive in. Our relationship with the U of A has helped us attract a lot of talented employees who are doing great things at our company.”
And for the students; what makes their internship worth missing out on digging their toes into the sand at Rocky Point? Guzman, who spent last summer participating in an academic research program, is gaining a fuller understanding of what it is like to work in industry and learning “if this is the type of career path I would like to follow.”
Boone is happy with his decision to spend his summer as an intern. “I've had an absolutely amazing time so far and I'm excited for the rest of the summer.”
About the College of Optical Sciences:
The College of Optical Sciences (OSC) at the University of Arizona was established in 1964 to fill a national need for more students trained in optical physics and technology. The OSC continues to fill that need, training more students in the optical sciences than any other institution in the United States. The industrial affiliates program is designed to leverage the strengths of academic and industrial optics for the benefit of all.
About Edmund Optics:
Edmund Optics® (EO) is a leading producer of optics, imaging, and photonics technology for R&D, electronics, semiconductor, pharmaceutical, biomedical, and military markets around the globe. EO is the world’s largest supplier of off-the-shelf optical components. Customers can purchase items by contacting EO at 1-800-363-1992, via the catalog, or via the website at www.edmundoptics.com