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Occupation Details

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Engineer - Photonics

Job Zone

Education
Most of these occupations require qualifications at NFQ Levels 7 or 8 (Ordinary / Honours Degrees) but some do not.

Related Experience
A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, an engineer must complete four years of college and work for several years in engineering to be considered qualified.

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Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

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At a Glance... header image

Designs technologies that specialise in light information or light energy, such as laser or fibre optics technology.


The Work header image

Photonics engineers are concerned with modulating light sources and controlling the light's wavelength, intensity, and duration. Engineers working in the laser and fibre optics field, design and modify laser equipment or components and may direct the testing of laser systems. They also use lasers for a variety of useful applications in fields such as telecommunications, medicine and construction industries.

Engineers who work with photonics spend much of their time researching new developments within their field. The field of photonics is growing rapidly, with many new discoveries being made every day. Photonics engineers must keep up to date with the findings in the research of other engineers. High-volume telecommunications firms as well as fibre optics manufacturing companies are the largest photonics engineer employers.

Certain photonics engineers are employed strictly to refine optical fibre purity, because impure optical fibres can be very inefficient and contribute to energy loss.

 


Tasks & Activitiesheader image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported tasks and activities for this occupation

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Design, integrate, or test photonics systems or components.

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Develop optical or imaging systems, such as optical imaging products, optical components, image processes, signal process technologies, or optical systems.

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Analyze system performance or operational requirements.

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Write reports or research proposals.

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Assist in the transition of photonic prototypes to production.

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Develop or test photonic prototypes or models.

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Conduct testing to determine functionality or optimization or to establish limits of photonics systems or components.

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Design electro-optical sensing or imaging systems.

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Read current literature, talk with colleagues, continue education, or participate in professional organizations or conferences to keep abreast of developments in the field.

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Conduct research on new photonics technologies.

Work Activities header image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported work activities in this occupation.

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Processing Information:  Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.

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Thinking Creatively:  Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.

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Analyzing Data or Information:  Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.

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Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge:  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.

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Getting Information:  Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.

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Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment:  Providing documentation, detailed instructions, drawings, or specifications to tell others about how devices, parts, equipment, or structures are to be fabricated, constructed, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.

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Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events:  Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

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Making Decisions and Solving Problems:  Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

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Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others:  Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.

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Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work:  Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.


Knowledge header image

The following is a list of the five most commonly reported knowledge areas for this occupation.

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Engineering and Technology:  Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.

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Physics:  Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.

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Mathematics:  Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

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Design:  Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.

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Computers and Electronics:  Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.


Skillsheader image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported skills used in this occupation.

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Reading Comprehension:   Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

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Mathematics:   Using mathematics to solve problems.

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Critical Thinking:   Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

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Writing:   Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

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Active Learning:   Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

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Complex Problem Solving:   Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

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Judgment and Decision Making:   Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

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Active Listening:   Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

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Quality Control Analysis:   Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.

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Systems Analysis:   Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.

Personal Qualitiesheader image

Photonics engineers must be able to work within a team but also independently.

Meticulous attention to detail is essential and also an interest in solving problems.

Excellent communication skills are critical in order for photonics engineers to present information clearly and accurately.

Good eye sight is essential as photonics engineers must be able to see things clearly both up close and far away. Photonic engineers must also not be colour blind.

It is essential for photonics engineers to be creative and innovative as they must design different state of the art laser products.


Entry Routesheader image

Photonics engineers typically come from a background in electronic engineering or physics. Relevant level 8 degree courses are available from a range of universities and ITs. However, most topics in Photonics are not covered at undergraduate level education so post graduate study may be necessary to progress within this career.

University College Cork provide a one year postgraduate M. Sc in Photonics, in conjunction with Tyndall National Institute - see http://www.physics.ucc.ie/mscphotonics/mscphotonics/. This course will also provide a foundation for undertaking a Ph.D focusing on photonics.

Individual companies may also provide internal training for engineering employees to specialise in the area of photonics.

Last Updated: October, 2014


Related Occupationsheader image

Contactsheader image

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Organisation: Tyndall National Institute
  Address: Lee Maltings Complex, Dyke Parade, Cork City, Ireland
  Tel: 021 4904177
  Email: Click here
  Url Click here

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Organisation: Engineers Ireland
  Address: 22 Clyde Road, Ballsbridge Dublin 4
  Tel: (01) 665 1300
  Email: Click here
  Url Click here

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Organisation: Smart Futures
  Address: Discover Science & Engineering, Wilton Park House, Wilton Place, Dublin, 2
  Tel: (01) 607 3171
  Email: Click here
  Url Click here

 

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