Laser Systems Engineering

Course #SE3117

Est.imated Completion Time: 3 months


This course describes the engineering design and development of laser systems for practical applications.  Fundamental systems engineering concepts of conceptualization, design, fabrication, integration, test, and operational use and support are applied to laser systems. This course addresses the components of laser systems, fundamentals of laser operation, the characteristics of different types of lasers, and how these concepts are combined to design laser systems.  Emphasis is on the design and engineering of laser systems for specific applications and on factors that influence practical laser operation, rather than on the fundamental physical principles of lasers. The course applies needs analysis, requirements analysis, definition of technical performance metrics, feasibility and trade studies, alternatives analysis, and systems design to laser and optical systems. The course covers laser integration, test, and operational challenges, such as cooling and power needs, atmospheric effects, calibration and optical system testing, and specialized handling and maintenance.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to: 

  • Describe the major components of laser systems and the primary military applications of laser systems.
  • Describe a system engineering process for engineering a military laser system. Identify the major phases of the laser SE process and discuss some of the specific challenges faced in engineering laser weapon systems.
  • Identify laser system stakeholders and describe the operational needs of lasers in terms of capability, function, and integration with host platforms.
  • Conduct simple trades of image size, image location, focal length, field of view, depth of focus, and depth of field for an imaging system. Compare and contrast various measures of image quality (resolution, MTF, Strehl ratio, etc.) and discuss how they relate to optical system design characteristics. Describe why mode control might be important in a specified laser application and discuss techniques for mode control implementation. Discuss multiple ways in which materials selection can impact laser and optical system performance, producibility, and survivability.
  • Describe key performance requirements and high-level functions of laser systems.
  • Identify laser performance parameters and develop performance models of a laser system based on rate equations.
  • Analyze a complex laser system and deduce the functions and purpose of each major optical and mechanical element.
  • Describe the process of designing a complicated laser system. Conceptually design a laser system to accomplish a specified function. Discuss the impact of mechanical design choices on performance of a specific laser and optical system. Design a laser resonator producing desired output beam characteristics such as beam diameter and beam divergence.  
  • Identify and describe laser weapon system integration challenges including size, weight, power and cooling requirements.
  • Describe typical tests that would be performed on lasers and optical systems during development, operational evaluation, and manufacturing. Describe the process of laser test planning and execution.
  • Develop a military laser system concept of operations. Describe operational scenarios for the use of military lasers.
  • Discuss laser maintainability and logistics needs. Select and design appropriate diagnostic techniques to measure critical laser system parameters.
  • Evaluate the safety of any given laser.
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Application Deadlines

  •  08 Jul 2024

    Fall Quarter applications due

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