THE INTERSECTION OF BUSINESS AND PHOTONICS TECHNOLOGY
MILTON CHANG of Incubic Management was president of Newport
and New Focus. He is currently director of mBio Diagnostics and Aurrion.
He is a Trustee of the California Institute of Technology and has served on
the SEC Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies and the
Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology of the National Institute of
Standards and Technology, and the authoring committee of the National
Academies’ Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation.
Chang is a Fellow of IEEE, OSA, and LIA. Direct your business,
management, and career questions to him at email@example.com,
and check out his book Toward Entrepreneurship at www.miltonchang.com.
Collaboration and excellence
are the keys to educating
I interviewed Professor Xi-Cheng
Zhang, director of the Institute of
Optics at the University of Rochester
because it is a leading optical center
that has made a major impact on the optics and photonics community.
Xi-Cheng Zhang is the
M. Parker Givens Professor,
and he also holds professorships and honorary
appointments at several
other universities because
he is an internationally
recognized scientist and
a leader in terahertz science and
He was chosen to be the director
of the Institute of Optics in 2012
after a successful 20-year career at
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI),
where he founded the Center for THz
Research and was co-founder of
Zomega Terahertz (East Greenbush,
NY). A prolific author and speaker,
Dr. Zhang is a Fellow of AAAS, APS,
IEEE, OSA, and SPIE, and is the
recipient of many honors and awards.
Milton Chang: We associate the
Institute of Optics with giants like
Professor Emil Wolf and Professor
Rudolf Kingslake in optical sciences
and Professor Bob Hopkins in optical engineering; tell us more about
X-C Zhang: The Institute of Optics is
an academic department within the
Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University of Rochester.
The Institute of Optics has a unique culture and a rich history. Established in
1929, the Institute was the first university to offer optics degrees in the U.S.-
and the Institute has awarded over 2800 optics degrees since. Our faculty and
graduates have started more than 200 optics companies since
Prof. Hopkins founded Tropel in Rochester in 1953.
MC: What is your vision going forward?
XCZ: We have been fortunate to have professors such as
Kingslake, Hopkins, and Wolf. We are continuing their legacy to provide the finest education and frontier research in the
optics and photonics community. Bearing in mind we are a research university, our Institute’s leadership can only be maintained by having a top research portfolio, quality faculty, and
cutting-edge research. We continue to offer unique optics and
photonics courses to our students, and we constantly modify the curriculum
to reflect advances in science and to meet the demands of society.
My vision is to continue this tradition of excellence, to attract the very best
undergraduate and graduate students, and to educate the highest quality professionals for the future optics and photonics community. We are fortunate to
have a superior faculty, extremely bright and motivated students, and a large
pool of involved alumni.
MC: What are the challenges/opportunities you see?
XCZ: A major challenge in today’s economy is shrinking funding for research.
We also have to compete for the best students given there are more universities that grant optics degrees: Arizona, CREOL, Alabama, the Rose-Hulman
Institute of Technology, and other schools such as Stanford, Harvard, and
Duke now have strong photonics programs. We have to be more collaborative,
more aggressive. On the flip side, we have the opportunity continued on page 126