Greg Stough

Greg Stough

Greg Stough

Track: Optics
Undergrad: Cal Poly Pomona, Pomona, CA - Physics
Internship: MicroVision
Current Job Title: Customer Support Engineer II at ZEISS Microscopy

What was your undergraduate institution?
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona- Cal Poly Pomona. Bachelor of Science in physics, minor in mathematics

How did you find yourself at Oregon? What about the program attracted you?
As my final year at Cal Poly Pomona approached, I began to seriously consider graduate work. With so many options- universities, locations, fields in physics- I had to look a little farther in the future and ask myself, where do I see myself after graduate studies?

I felt a career in industry would be the best fit- the opportunity to apply what I learned to interesting, novel products. With this in mind, I began looking over graduate programs in a few regions of the country where I wanted to live, with the stipulation of which program would help me reach my goals most effectively.

At the same time I was working in the optics/photonics lab on campus, enjoying the research projects utilizing fiber optics and biological sensors, so I wanted to expand my knowledge and skill set in optics.

When I came upon this program, it was as if it had been tailor-made to fit my goals: the graduate coursework to expand and refine my knowledge base, the nine-month internship in the optics industry to provide the work experience and starting point for my career; the entire philosophy of the program attracted me.

What was the intensive summer like for you?
The intensive summer quarter, the beginning of the program, is a bit like being pushed into the deep end of a pool. Everything is very fast paced, with not much time to stop and breathe. It’s one of those situations in life where you know you have to do it, so you keep your head down and go through it.
As part of the optics curriculum, we had a quarter-long course squeezed into ten days at Oregon State University, about an hour north of Eugene. Every morning we would load into the van, have lecture until noon, and after a quick lunch, spend the afternoon in lab. Then back in the van to make the drive down to Eugene, where we spent the rest of the night working on homework problems and lab reports to be returned the following day.

That was the most hectic part for us, but the entire quarter saw us in lectures or in the lab for hours each day with homework and studying in the night. Despite its quick pace, we learned and absorbed a lot of information in core optics curriculum. At the end of the lab work we all presented on our projects, giving us the opportunity to clearly and effectively communicate scientific ideas.
The 2011 optics group was small - only 11 students, so we became friends and study partners rather quickly. We formed a tight bond that effortlessly continued once the summer gave way to fall.

The professional development was very useful for me, as I’m not the most extroverted scientist. I took all the advice to heart and quickly realized that LinkedIn is a great networking tool. The interview process was nerve-wracking, as it was my first experience in a professional interview setting for a technical position. It does become easier with practice; I found the mock interview a great practice run and a starting point to refine my responses for the true internship interviews.

Where did you do your internship?
MicroVision, Inc in Redmond, WA. It is a consumer electronics company that specializes in laser-based portable projector components. Utilizing our patented scanning MEMS mirror technology, we have produced a handheld projector capable of connecting to any external device and displaying any content on any surface. We are now taking our technology to key companies for possible integration into a myriad of other products such as automobile windshield displays, cameras and cell phones.

What was your internship like?
The internship was a great learning experience and the biggest reason why I chose this program. I was able to work on several projects, ranging from an academia-type research experiment with laser diodes to overall image quality assessment of our end product. I was able to work on every step of the process from incoming quality inspection of our laser diode/MEMS modules to assembling them into final products.

Every day I learned something new and found myself intrigued with every project I was assigned to. I began with the research project of investigating speckle reduction in laser diodes. I familiarized myself with the literature then tackled the experiment set up. When I was asked to assist image quality of our projector system, I researched and learned about the basics of color science- a topic I never covered in school.

Did you feel the program prepared you for the internship?
The program prepared me for the internship, and the two projects mentioned above in particular, by giving me the fluency in optics and the ability to apply my learning skills to new topics. Everything cannot be covered in the classroom, but this program was successful in that it enabled me to tackle novel problems with the strong foundation of knowledge and research skills I gained.

How did your internship prepare you for your current position?
I am currently working for MicroVision as an optical engineer contractor. I am working on some of the same projects I did as an intern, but with the ability to get more in depth. I have also been given more responsibilities and more tasks as I’ve shown the initiative and drive to expand my knowledge and move the company forward. By having a nine-month training session, I’m more knowledgeable about the technology and have a good rapport with my co-workers. I was able to easily transition into my new position.

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