Modern Engineering- shared fields of collaboration

Modern Engineering- shared fields of collaboration

Fisheye optical system for photon doppler velocimetry.

Optomechanical engineering, like most modern engineering fields, involves collaboration and coordination of several skillsets. Engineers have to wear many hats in their day-to-day work; no longer is it good enough to specialize in a single field. In the modern world of scientific and technological advancement, products are becoming more tightly integrated and optimized.

Because of this, it is necessary for engineers to be experts in their field, but also understand the trade-offs faced by his or her colleagues.

Take for example a complex telescope design project, maybe one that will be flown on a spacecraft.  The skillsets required to integrate this level of instrument likely includes at a minimum:

  • Optical Engineering (optics design, optical calibration)
  • Optomechanical Engineering (optics mounting, athermalization and alignment plan)
  • Mechanical Engineering (structural mounting, positioning)
  • Electrical Engineering (control and feedback electronics, wiring)
  • Systems Engineering (system integration, interface documentation)
  • Software Engineering (software control, image capture and processing)
HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) telescope on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (Photo Credit: NASA)

So in the case of complex instruments like this, an engineer regardless of field will collaborate with and share requirements with several other disciplines. By being a specialist in integration of systems which span multiple fields, an engineer can anticipate system-level design decisions or limitations faced by their peers.

As an example, mechanical engineers have strong spatial design and conceptualization skills, providing design support in every industry. Designs from mechanical engineers may in some cases stand on their own, but more often than not will operate in conjunction with design sub-systems from other fields such as electrical or optical components.  Even if a professional mechanical engineer operates individually, it is important for this engineer to understand and anticipate requirements or limitations their fellow collaborators will encounter.

Optomechanical engineering is a relatively recent collaboratory field, operating in the integration space between mechanical engineering and optical engineering. By specializing in the integration and assembly of optical systems, optomechanical engineers are experts in working with multidisciplinary design teams to bring optical designs into the physical world.


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