The education-training continuum: Which way optics?

Educators in optics face a rudimentary dilemma. As in similar disciplines, there are basically two philosophies toward teaching: the theoretically-based path, often preferred by basic researchers and the like; and the highly-focused, task-oriented path, generally the choice of industrialists. Academics make decisions every day on how to best educate their students and how to advance their field. Schools, through the programs they offer, typically align themselves along one of these two paths. While undergraduate, graduate, and technical programs all play a part in shaping the field of optics, undergraduate education will be the focus of this article.

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