Specialization Semester Reviews

ADVANCED LITHOGRAPHY ★★★★★
Orlando: This used to be a mandatory course but it was switched out for fabrication. Dr. Mappes gives a very active, very dynamic lecture covering many of the topics from fabrication but going further into actual applications and many of the nooks and crannies of fabrication of optoelectronic components. The only problem is the lecture is at the end, the exam is kind of limited to a few dates and the participation is low.

BUSINESS INNOVATION IN OPTICS ★★★
Orlando: Hopefully they give this lecture again. Really interesting lecture if you have never in your life worked before (as in more than 1 year as a full-time employee in a company). Great lectures, and team work has never been more real than in this lecture (far more than lab reports). If you are 100% INTP, this course is not for you. It may feel like a waste of time (plus it does not give points to the final ECTS or average).

FIELD PROPAGATION AND COHERENCE ★★
Orlando: This is a very theoretical course by Prof. Freude. Take it only if you want to go further into physics mixed with application and a good introduction to go head-on into Born/Wolf book and actually understand things. There are no protocols anywhere, only the material I prepare for myself (which of course I share as well). The lecture is at a very strange time, as well. So just take it if you like Prof. Freude or if you like pain in the heart and soul.

LASER PHYSICS ★★★
Orlando: The lecture is quite active. I never had time to do the exercises but they also required a high level understanding in physics, or at least reading the lecture in advance. The examination is rough, especially if you are not a physics undergrad. Some questions in the examination feel very much physics-oriented and can require some preparation in more basic understanding of life and everything.

MACHINE VISION ★★
Orlando: The lecture is very strange. I personally did not enjoy it much because the beginning (as in, 70% of the lecture) are topics I took in my undergrad regarding image acquisition and post-processing. The exercises are interesting but the lecture is very crowded so you may not get a computer if everyone takes up all the spaces. The exam is relatively easy, gives a lot of points and requires mild preparation. Again, remember my background is data processing / img processing/ digital signal processing, experience could be different if none of these topics are known beforehand.

Julian: As an EE undergrad I agree with Orlando – at least 1/3 of the material should be known to you whatever engineering you did in your undergrad. The topic itself is interesting and the lecture gives a survey of the most relevant algorithms. I myself didn’t like the “karaoke sytle” presentation and the full lecutre hall – but it’s not really necessary to attend the course – everything is on the slides.

Tudor: Overall, I liked it as an well-rounded course. Having a physics background, more or less everything was new to me. Exercises help, but are beyond the scope of the exam – you can do very well just by knowing what’s in the slides (which are surprisingly detailed). Speaking of the exam, I didn’t perceive it as “easy points”, however a good grade is obtainable. We were first batch to experiment with a written exam, but expect a big question from each chapter (e.g. apply algorithm X to this initial Y). Estimated prep time (written exam): roughly 1 week, plus 1-2 group recap sessions.

NANO-OPTICS ★★★
Orlando: Good lecture. Puts a lot of the theoretical concepts in a good application every lecture so it is never too boring or repetitive. There are only a few protocols and they all revolve around the same but, again, Prof. Naber is really specific about the answers. He graded me poorly due to mistakes I would not find as critical (a plus for a minus sign, two words about an explanation) but in the end it could be good for physics undergrads or if you would like to test your knowledge. I made a script-ish thing of 100 pages that you can probably use along with the book (principles of nano-optics by notovny and hecht) to get a good grade.

OPTICAL WAVEGUIDES AND FIBERS ★★★★
Orlando: If you like NLO, you will enjoy OWF. If you did not, then you probably will not enjoy this lecture either. It puts together a lot of the lost knots from the fibers section of OC, numerical calculation of fields, and is good if you would like to go into Si photonics (like myself) or optical communications.

Tudor: I took this course before NLO, so the perspective is a bit weird, however Prof. Koos maintains his teaching style, rhythm etc. I heard varying opinions about the exam, just keep in mind that although you should know the main equations and their meaning, it’s far more important to be able to explain the phenomenon (or said equation, if given). Be ready to think by yourself instead of trying to refer to a page in the script. Estimated prep time (oral exam): ~2 weeks – 10 days (make sure you go through the script and slides – in parallel and fully, at least once!), I didn’t do group study, I assume it might help some.

OPTICAL TRANSMITTERS AND RECEIVERS ★★★
Orlando: Good if you liked OC and would like to have a relatively simple exam. Freude has historically not asked anything about receivers or transmitters to KSOP students, but who knows, you might be the first one to get it. That pretty much takes out 3 of 7 chapters of the lecture which you can re-inforce for your OC test or for the fun of it and not do extra work studying things. Might feel redundant.

Tudor: Coming from physics, this was arguably the bane of my specialization semester – but in a good way. While I cruised through the transmitters chapter (despite not having taken Prof. Freude’s OC), the receptors, modulators (damn modulation formats >.<) and generally the analogies and references to EE were hardly meaningful for me. That’s why I buckled up and went through the script (slides are more or less snapshots from it) from top to bottom a total of three times (with decreasing time spent, as exam grew nearer). Here’s where I disagree with Orlando, I’ve heard examples of people being asked (even exclusively!) from receptors (they were KSOP, but I doubt Prof. Freude checks beforehand, nor does he care about your background). He tends to choose a (possibly obscure) topic and ask you to discuss, fixating on some points he really wants you to understand. Get those right and you’ve won. He is also very helpful and guides you to the answer, if he sees you kinda know what you’re talking about. Estimated prep time (oral exam): whole semester (read between lectures, at least for me this was mandatory), otherwise roughly as much as for OWF.

PLASTIC ELECTRONICS ★★★★
Orlando: Really enjoyable lecture. The material is kind of disperse on the internet but the content is pretty interesting and the lecture is slightly fun. It gives few points but you can probably burn through the material in 2 weeks, maybe 3 if you are like me and like to go through the bottom of the barrel of every topic.

Julian: Very enjoyable. There are good textbooks on the topics (that will basicaly be provided in the course) and the slides are not the best, BUT profiting from the lecturers personal experience in the field is invaluable. One of the few lectures I had the feeling gave a lot more than just reading a textbook. But then, I’m kind of biased, because this is the topic of my heart and I really like Prof Lemmer’s lecture style. If you are looking for internships he’s also well connected and can help you find something in the field.

SYSTEMS AND SOFTWARE ENGINEERING ★★★★★

Tudor: You can see this from the slides, but you will study theoretical aspects of Systems Engineering, or in normal terms, how to design stuff, but understanding mostly gets you through. Get ready to apply some development tools (e.g. state machines) to a simple example and you should be good to go. Estimated prep time (written exam): depending on whether you attended the class or not and your slides reading speed, I’d say anywhere between 4-6 days.

SOLID STATE OPTICS ★★★★★
Orlando: One of my favorite lectures because the exam is the most fair of all, but it is also one of the longest exams of the whole course. It is comprehensive of every single topic reviewed on the lecture. The lecture is slow-paced but I found it as a good balance to the active-nature of OWF. The protocols are present and quite comprehensive and useful.

LIGHT AND DISPLAY ENGINEERING ★★★★★

Julian: Rather easy to get a good grade. Still, the topics are imho interesting and more “cross domain” (biology, medicine, architecture, light planning, physics) than most of the other courses. DONT SKIP LECTURES. He remembers faces and even though I’m sure he wouldn’t say so, exams are easier for ppl who were in his lectures. And learn some key figures (smalles pixel size, typical and best efficiencies, …) by hard.

Tudor: This course is overall perceived as easy, meaning that the syllabus is not difficult (you might even know part of it from general knowledge), and a good grade is usually landed by most. However his teaching style is sloppy and the pace is extremely frustrating if you expect to actually learn something in class (most of the info you’ll get while reading by yourself). That’s possibly the reason why, despite a relatively large number of people were registered, the attendance was always on the lower side (we’re talking single digits). Make sure you know all the course parameters from the beginning (we found out at the end of the semester it was worth 4, instead of 5 credits), and don’t be fooled by the myths that it’s a guaranteed top grade. In the exam he asks relatively easy stuff, but you can get rekt if you miss one. Even worse, that might not even be on the slides, but he “said it in class” (although most people doubt that as well). Bulk of the content is relying on memorizing. Estimated prep time: honestly 3-4 full days should be enough, maybe subtract one if you attended lectures. P.S. Booking an exam for this course is known to not be the easiest thing to do.

LIGHTING DESIGN★★★★★

Julian: Super Boring “Seminar” in which the lecturer was not well prepared and even got some standards wrong. If you are really interested in lighting design wait for the summer term – there’s always a competition (that also gives ECTS) at LTI involving a cooperation with architecture students. Exams are extremly short and rather “easy”, if you like learning a lot by hard.

LASER MATERIAL PROCESSING ★★★★★

Julian: DON’T BE FOOLED! Yes, it is a block seminar and yes, it’s only one week, but the content is that of two “normal” lectures combined. The topic also sounds super easy at first, but the devil is in the details.
Prof. Graf is head of the largest Laser Materials Processing Institute in Europe and really gives an excellent overview over the field. It’s mostly LARGE SCALE processing though. I really enjoyed the course because it covers a wide range of topics from optics and basic laser physics to thermodynamics and systems design. He was a bit angry this year because ppl were ill prepared for the exams so please show him that there are smart ppl at KSOP

RESEARCH PROJECT ★★★★★
Difficult to judge. I picked out a topic myself and put a lot of work into it. I learned a lot from it, but it cost me some time. There are more “basic” versions that are pretty much a 2-3 day “Lab Course”.