Chevron Left
Back to First Order Optical System Design

Learner Reviews & Feedback for First Order Optical System Design by University of Colorado Boulder

226 ratings
79 reviews

About the Course

This course can also be taken for academic credit as ECEA 5600, part of CU Boulder’s Master of Science in Electrical Engineering degree. Optical instruments are how we see the world, from corrective eyewear to medical endoscopes to cell phone cameras to orbiting telescopes. When you finish this course, you will be able to design, to first order, such optical systems with simple mathematical and graphical techniques. This first order design will allow you to develop the foundation needed to begin all optical design as well as the intuition needed to quickly address the feasibility of complicated designs during brainstorming meetings. You will learn how to enter these designs into an industry-standard design tool, OpticStudio by Zemax, to analyze and improve performance with powerful automatic optimization methods....

Top reviews

Aug 25, 2019

Really nice course with very clear explanations of the principles of optical engineering and learn how to use ZEMAX Opticstudio to simulate your optical system

Apr 29, 2020

An excellent course that teaches you geometric optics and gets you started with ZEMAX. Some of the quizzes have typos/bugs in them, but this is a minor gripe.

Filter by:

51 - 75 of 80 Reviews for First Order Optical System Design

By Kirsty G

Mar 4, 2021

As physics courses go, this one is good but not great. Which is to say, the prof does a good job explaining the concepts but has a tendency to dive into complex examples without giving basic examples first. As others have stated, this means you'll have to do a fair amount of searching the internet for other resources to supplement the provided course material. It is possible to pass the quizzes and progress even without understanding 100% of the material.

There are some really useful nuggets of information about first-order optical design, which are explained well and often (after you've got past the basics of the first couple of weeks of material). This course gets to be quite rewarding from week 3 onwards. I do recommend it despite its downsides.

By Kuznetsov A V

Sep 27, 2020

Generally good, but some things should be described more detailly. For example, sign convention should be explained better, especially for mirrors. And in some tests the questions appear that were not discussed in the lectures, such as microscope, and it's necessary just to use some formula without deep understanding in this case. But as a whole the course content is interesting and really seems to provide a set of powerful optical design tools.

By Andrea M

Apr 6, 2021

The course gives information on basic optics and ray tracing, as well as more involved formulae for systems of thick lenses. I appreciated the various approaches that are presented, analytical, experimental and numerical. More than anything, the introduction to optics studio is very helpful, and I will definitely follow the next courses to deepen my knowledge of optical design.

By Vishnu H P

Apr 17, 2020

I got to learn about ray optics and all the basic mathematical tools needed for an optical system design. Also got a hands on experience with Zemax OpticStudio. The assignments and homework problems are really good. But the best part is the capstone project at the end.

By Thiago C C

Jan 26, 2021

Great content but the provided learning resources are limited to the video lectures and exercises. There is no staff helping in the discussion forums. Question hang there without answers for months.

By Alec Y

Dec 2, 2021

The first week was a lot of derivation which was rough to get through, but the course became much more applicable in the following weeks and I learned a lot of useful concepts.

By Wayne L

May 18, 2019

Great course, but the tool (Demo version Zemax) is not very useful because of the removal of several important features (e.g. save, undo and limited precision).

By Jaeseong L

Mar 9, 2021

Well made course. clear lecture. removed one star because lecture note is not sufficient to cover all the concepts. Need more reading materials.

By Orqa d o o

Nov 21, 2019

Really valuable introduction to optical design, I learned a lot! It takes dedication though, but it's totally worth it.

By Saad M

May 12, 2021

Assignments are difficult and the auto-grader is a bit buggy. But the course content and the faculty is great

By Stephanie A

Aug 17, 2020

Excellent content and instruction. Difficult to get feedback on problems with software and quiz answer input.

By Hicham F

Dec 11, 2018

Great content and teacher.

The course evaluation needs some debugging and problems should be better explained.

By Michael H

Nov 15, 2020

Good course, beginning is a bit too elementary but later part is very educative.

By Akila S U

Jul 23, 2020

it is little advance and in my view not well explained

By Luc T

Oct 6, 2020

Challenging and good!

By Vitalii

Dec 11, 2018

ok. a bit easy

By Alejandro M G S J

Oct 11, 2021

Some things in this course are very cool, others not so much. The fact that it includes OpticStudio is awesome, so you can practice with the program as you do the course. Also the selection of topics is good.

As for the bad points, the first is definitely the allocated time. As a minimum you'll need twice as much as the indicated, and that is an info that you're not aware of before paying. It's not just me, I did the course with a fellow researcher and we both had the same issues. And the thing is, after completing the course with 77% grade I am far away from having the feeling of dominating the subject. I feel like there should be a selection of solved problems (not just a couple, and they should include typical optical devices) in order to help to master the knowledge. Many people master by doing, and in practice there is little chance to make these knowledge yours if you pass from one thing to another fast, without having a good deal of practice. In fact, before starting with the next course I will search for some design problems, like telescopes, microscopes and all that stuff, and solve them both by hand and with OpticStudio to feel comfortable before continuing

By Abigail M

Apr 25, 2021

Informative but frustrating. I thought there would be more focus on OpticStudio, but this was only covered for one week. Dumb errors like repeatedly calling a "principal ray" (or axis) "principle" on powerpoint slides (potentially embarrassing for international students who might not know better)... Lots of quiz questions are ambiguously worded... Presenting equations as though systems in vacuum is a given... The pace of the course suddenly doubles in week five... I really think that this course would be drastically improved if it were accompanied by a lab of sorts that was more focused on OpticStudio -- giving the math a practical application that more closely mimics what the real industry looks like. Class could use a once-over to remove errors, ambiguities, and dated references (to websites, etc.).

By Christopher O

Mar 10, 2021

The lectures were pretty good and overall I learned a lot. A lot of bugs and QC issues though. Multiple errors in the notes, such as a wrong formula in an early lecture in Week 5 which is corrected later. This caused me to get a couple of homework problems wrong several times before finding the correct answer on another website.

Also, the UC Boulder website no longer works for some of the exercises they ask you to do to practice getting a feel for optical systems. It was built in Flash, i think, and it no longer works.

Also, my subscription to Zemax ended a week early, before I was done with the course.

Also the instructors don't respond to any posts in the discussion forum, even if they are unresolved by co-students.

By Leslie C

Nov 16, 2020

It gives a decent overview of optics. I did have former college courses that introduced me to optics, but there isn't enough practice material here. It seemed to just give the raw skeleton. I understand it's up to the student to learn and not to give us step by step guides to every question. But at least give us several optional practice problems with maybe a numerical solution so we can practice and figure out on our own.

By Hyok L

Nov 8, 2021

There were several questions in quizzes that were not possible to solve, based on the lectures. I needed to google. Other times, I'd get a wrong answer, and I have no idea what portion is wrong. One time, the feedback was that, the answer would be correct if I had the correct sign in one term. I changed the sign, and it was still wrong.

By Gema M

Dec 18, 2020

Contents are good and the lecturer presents them in a clear way. Nevertheless, there is no response from the professors on the forum and the automatic grader doesn't work very well (it might give you a wrong answer just from rounding up). Solutions to the exercises should be provided at least once the quizzes are approved with 50%.

By Mithra A

Jun 24, 2020

Overall the content was good. And it provided an initial path on how to go about optical designing. I sometimes feel the course does not have enough support to clarify my doubts. A chat box where a course candidate can clarify the doubts will be of great help.

By Shashank D

Jul 18, 2021

The course was good however there are few things that stood out.

1) Notation and use of mirrors wasn't well explained

2) Quiz emphasis was more on solving algebra equation rather than hands on practice

3) Not much support on forums

By James D

May 7, 2020

Good info - but assumes a decent working knowledge of optics. Learned quite a bit from the capstone project, but the exam was rough (lots of curveballs).