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A Career which you can play with lasers daily

EpicHam

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sup folks.
Hammy here...

My mom rummaged through my trash and pieced together my shredded bank statement (yes, I DID feed it into a paper shredder) spending on lasers...
Lets say its not pretty.

I then remembered she said this.
"If you like lasers so much , why don't you get a career in lasers?"

That raises an interesting question .
How do you get into an industry related with lasers?
I know there are many profession that need some degree of knowledge with lasers , from optometry, fx effects group , military, etc.
However, there isn't really a field that specially deal with lasers.
Besides.
Where do you even study about lasers?
There are courses in my university that give you a crash course about them.
There are Bachelor of Applied Engineering Physics that skips a bit over laser , but there simply isn't a field specially about it....

Perhaps ,there are. I don't know.
But as a 18 year old.... I stand in the crossroad of life... confused and no idea where to go.
 

Stin

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I had a chemistry professor that used lasers daily in his research with enzymes. And looking through the faculty in the chemistry department there is even a chair professor in Laser Chemistry. I think that the research involves different processes in which lasers can be utilized
 

TheDukeAnumber1

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Academically you can go either the engineering route or the physics route which you'll just have to check out which degree program on your own your interested in most.

I'd recommend the engineering route, electrical engineering would be a path that could get you started. Materials science could be an option aswell.

The tough part is once you get the degree, there is no guarantee you'll land the job where you get to play with lasers.
 
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EpicHam

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Academically you can go either the engineering route or the physics route which you'll just have to check out which degree program on your own your interested in most.

I'd recommend the engineering route, electrical engineering would be a path that could get you started. Materials science could be an option aswell.

The tough part is once you get the degree, there is no guarantee you'll lad the job where you get to play with lasers.
thats the problem.
I am currently studying associate degree (laugh all you want, but getting into an elitist university here isn't easy... ) of building engineering.
I'm gonna graduate next year , and I'm kinda confused about what to do with my life.
Ever since I picked up this laser hobby, it pretty much consumed half of my life . I've spent evenings on Sam's FAQ absorbing every bit I can read....

So much to learn , so much to read . Yet... the more I know, the less I know.
I want to know more , and whats the better way to know more about it than getting a degree on it ?
Yet.... would I want to???
What career options do I have???
 
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Spooky

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Depends what kind of laser really....

I work with lasers between 50 watts and 7.5Kw on a daily basis but as yet haven't seen a nice pretty beam of any kind. Very high powered lasers / masers are usually in spectrum's we can't see so all the high points are looking at outputs from test equipment or watching reportedly tough materials almost vanish in the invisible beams.

Education wise, my formal education was in Particle Physics but to be honest the benefits of that are minute when using Lasers to chop stuff up in an engineering environment.

The real forefront of experiment is in the military or weapons arena, the small amount I had to do with it when I left university was very interesting but usually involved months of work then a few minutes of fun followed by months of work again. The pinnacle of laser development is in the areas where experiment is "outside the box" looking at new uses for Laser Beams where currently they aren't used much or in their application to more normal work that is currently done another way.(much like Edward Teller believing everything could be linked to nuclear explosives use)

An example would be using UV lasers to cure epoxies for 3D printing or high energy lasers sintering metals.

The real top line work is done in Nuclear Physics with lasers, the effects of terrawatt+ systems on elements such as Duterium, sadly those involved in that kind of work are in the top 1% of the very top 0.1% of Physicists. The chances of being asked (you don't apply you get asked) to get involved with that kind of development means being either Skull & Bones or MIT, Oxford, Harvard, Cambridge (I graduated Oxford Uni many years ago and didn't mix in the right circles).

I work with lasers every day that would scare a lot of people silly and to be honest after the initial "wow" factor wears off it still amounts to just a job afterall.

As a personal bit of advice, I've had many hobbies that after getting paid to do them were ruined by it. Hobbies we all do for fun, work we do because we get paid (and in some cases enjoy it) mixing the two rarely ends well.

Of course this is just my opinion, much like noses, we all have one :)

best wishes

Dave
 
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EpicHam

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oh... so basically.. we should look for a career that is primarily well paid and marginally fun ?
 

TheDukeAnumber1

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Yup that's the goal, get a degree in what you like and they say if you love your job you never work a day in your life.
 

EpicHam

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Hm....
What if I want to get into a career which I research lasers and its production?
its kinda hard to find the proper education for it...

Electrical engineering, Optics , applied mechanics, material science, spectroscopy , inorganic chemistry , and more....

How do you even get an education for laser??
 

Spooky

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Electronics and one of the Higher Physics degree's would be the best base to go from.

Remember working with lasers isn't all about pretty beams running round the lab walls, it's more usually about months of paperwork and calculations followed by a few short period experiments.

Pointers and smaller publicly available lasers are a by product of research done into specialist applications (usually weapons tech), take babies nappies (disposable ones) they were a by product of the space program and not specifically designed for babies at all.
For industry and science lasers are more normally a "means to an end" rather than being the "end" in themselves.

If you want to work with coloured beam generators then self employed / own company may be the easiest option, you could then decide what and how stuff gets made.

If it's career your looking for then go the Nuclear Physics route, lasers aren't just limited to what you read about here, Masers, Xray lasers, Chemical Lasers and Nuclear Lasers are all out there and at magnitudes that will warp your mind :)

Contact people like Kaku, Dyson, Widlake, etc, they are usually happy to talk (and talk and talk and talk) about the subject they love and the amount of information you can get is astounding.You can contact many of these guys direct via their universities and tell them what you are hoping to do, top line Physicists love nothing more than seeing a spark of future hope in the eyes of the young, it gives them a way to live on well past their own lifetime. Read, Watch, Devour, Suck Up every piece of information you can lay your hands on, Practice, Test, Learn, Research and above all enjoy it and this will give you the building blocks of a future you dream of.
When something doesn't work, don't worry about it not working, find out why it doesn't, see if you can find a way it will, if it won't see what you can do to get around the problem or find another route.

Set what you believe are achievable tasks, for example is there a material that will block wide waveband laser radiation, if there isn't look at why not, is there a material that isn't currently being used for that purpose, greenhouses block UV, find out why, can the same principles be used to block UV lasers, if not why not.....that kind of thing.

best wishes

Dave
 

TheDukeAnumber1

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Remember working with lasers isn't all about pretty beams running round the lab walls, it's more usually about months of paperwork and calculations followed by a few short period experiments.
I think this is good advice. If you want to get into the visible side of playing with lasers a business that does laser light shows could be an option.
 

EpicHam

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Electronics and one of the Higher Physics degree's would be the best base to go from.

Remember working with lasers isn't all about pretty beams running round the lab walls, it's more usually about months of paperwork and calculations followed by a few short period experiments.

Pointers and smaller publicly available lasers are a by product of research done into specialist applications (usually weapons tech), take babies nappies (disposable ones) they were a by product of the space program and not specifically designed for babies at all.
For industry and science lasers are more normally a "means to an end" rather than being the "end" in themselves.

If you want to work with coloured beam generators then self employed / own company may be the easiest option, you could then decide what and how stuff gets made.

If it's career your looking for then go the Nuclear Physics route, lasers aren't just limited to what you read about here, Masers, Xray lasers, Chemical Lasers and Nuclear Lasers are all out there and at magnitudes that will warp your mind :)

Contact people like Kaku, Dyson, Widlake, etc, they are usually happy to talk (and talk and talk and talk) about the subject they love and the amount of information you can get is astounding.You can contact many of these guys direct via their universities and tell them what you are hoping to do, top line Physicists love nothing more than seeing a spark of future hope in the eyes of the young, it gives them a way to live on well past their own lifetime. Read, Watch, Devour, Suck Up every piece of information you can lay your hands on, Practice, Test, Learn, Research and above all enjoy it and this will give you the building blocks of a future you dream of.
When something doesn't work, don't worry about it not working, find out why it doesn't, see if you can find a way it will, if it won't see what you can do to get around the problem or find another route.

Set what you believe are achievable tasks, for example is there a material that will block wide waveband laser radiation, if there isn't look at why not, is there a material that isn't currently being used for that purpose, greenhouses block UV, find out why, can the same principles be used to block UV lasers, if not why not.....that kind of thing.

best wishes

Dave
I WOULD LOVE to be a Sith!
But the problem is , I'm not exactly spectacular with maths ....and with maths being the universal language of science... that kinda bars me off wouldn't it ...

I think this is good advice. If you want to get into the visible side of playing with lasers a business that does laser light shows could be an option.
but if I did... I wouldn't really be contributing to society now would I...
I would be the guy whom parents tell him daily to "get a real job" .
 
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Start off by doing a general BSc. You can get your foot in the door of a lot of places just with that alone. Especially if you wanted to work with a laser manufacturer eg. CNI. Your building engineering degree will probably not help you get a job with lasers i am afraid :)

Like others have said though if you want to work with pretty beams etc don't go the physics route.. I have been doing astrophysics for a leading science agency here for almost 2 years and haven't even seen a laser! If you want to work with laser pointers and the stuff we use here i am pretty sure the only way your going to do that is working for a manufacturer like i said at the beginning.
If you have any more specific questions shoot me a PM.
 

Gun

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I'm at the stage in my schooling where I'm starting to decide which path I want to go down. I'm thinking lasers might be a good option, however I also like IT. How would I work for a laser manufacturer without moving to China or Hong Kong? :p
 
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Following.

My current goals are to get my doctorate in EE with undergrads in spectroscopy and photonics. Plan to talk to UNO about using their research lab so I can get a research group developed. Or talk to the university out in Lincoln about using their laser lab. The prime result includes attending MIT. So on top of getting my masters while still enlisted, I'll show them that I've been doing amateur lasers for several years, and that I even organized an R&D group through the university. That (in theory) should be an excellent addition on top of the grades and test score, prof. recs, etc. I hope to be as competitive as possible.

Get out there, read some books, research, tinker, build, perfect, and build again. If I can pursue my laser passion in a small tiny dorm room, there's no reason you can't. Talk to local colleges and professors, get some names.

There's no reason for you to let anything stand in the way of you pursuing your passion.
 
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Spooky

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But the problem is , I'm not exactly spectacular with maths ....and with maths being the universal language of science... that kinda bars me off wouldn't it ...
Being honest Maths is important, pretty much everything in science as you say is expressed with numbers.

If you recognise Maths as being one of the limiting factors then concentrate on that, learning high function mathematics isn't a skill we are born with, it's a series of learned responses we grow to remember.

I wouldn't really be contributing to society now would I...
I would be the guy whom parents tell him daily to "get a real job" .
"get a real job" is something I never say to my kids, (I have 7) if they are happy in what they do then who am I to decry what choices they make in life simply because my choices were different.

contributing to society now would I
Not everybody runs into burning buildings to save the day, not everybody is elbow deep in human entrails trying to stop the bleeding but that Fireman needs a hose, somebody designed and made that. The doctor who realises the patient is suffering anaphalactic shock and reaches for the syringe to save their life would be in deep trouble without the needle made by a young lad on minimum wage in a factory somewhere he's never heard of.

For me the guy who keeps my workshops safe by sweeping the floor contributes just as much as the guy who designed the laser sources in the machines he's cleaning round.

Bill Gate's parents often referred to him as a loner with no direction...look how that turned out.

Later in life it's easy to say "I could have been ...........etc etc"

My response is always the same to those that say that..

"Why weren't you then" and is usually met with a lot of pretty thin excuses.

First off and most importantly Hammy, believe in yourself and your own possibilities, if others don't, then they have the problem not you. Don't think about the things you "cannot" do, look at finding a way that you "Can".

Society may try to place limits on us, as individuals it is up to us whether we accept those limits or not. If you deeply wish to work with lasers there will be a way you can, it may not be obvious just yet but if you listen to those that tell you "your going to fail" then you will always live up to their expectations.

When your time comes will you slip away quietly with a nice healthy body you have always taken care of by listening to others having been in a day job you hated but never got out of, or will you be able to skid in sideways, worn out and fulfilled screaming at the top of your lungs...

"God dam that was some ride"

The choice is yours ;)

Of course, as always this is just my opinion :)

best wishes

Dave
 




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