Columbia Optical Society of America (OSA) and the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE) student chapter is a student-run organization at Columbia University, located in the heart of NYC. Our organization is involved in enriching the development of students working in optics research. We participate in a number of community outreach events to promote education of the real-world applications of optical engineering and science. Sponsored by the OSA and SPIE organizations, as well as the Columbia Electrical Engineering Department our student members enjoy a variety of professional networking events through a rich slate of lecturers and field trips. We heartily welcome new collaborations with industry members and professional leaders.

  • Member Laser Tag event

Recent Events:


Girls Science Day 2019! We taught middle-school girls about lenses and total internal reflection using Jell-O!


Prof. Nimmi Ramanujam from Duke University spoke about "Increasing cervical cancer detection in the developing world by using new imaging technology developed by women for women"


Dr. Eric Zhang from IBM Research spoke about "Trace-gas sensing on a fully integrated silicon photonic chip"


Prof. Manijeh Razeghi from Northwestern University spoke about "Quantum Phenomena for the Information Era"


Girls Science Day! We taught middle-school girls about lasers and total internal reflection using Jell-O!


Prof. Gary Tearney from Harvard Medical School spoke about "Seeing the Unseen in Patients: Advancing Disease Prevention and Treatment Through Microimaging".


New York City Maker Faire: Our laser maze was once again very popular with both kids and adults!


New York City Maker Faire: Our laser maze is a popular exhibit and wins the Editor's Choice award!


Dr. Yang Yue, a hardware engineer in Juniper Networks, visited Columbia OSA and SPIE student chapter. As a sponsored Travelling Lecturer, he gave a talk about "The Frontiers in Optical Communications for Academia and Industry".


BU Prof. Darren Roblyer spoke about "Monitoring and Adapting Chemotherapeutic Interventions using Diffuse Optics" as part of the OSA Travelling Lecturer Series.


USC Prof. Andrea Armani gave a talk about "Portable Sensors based on Integrated Photonics and Functional Materials" as part of the OSA Travelling Lecturer Series.


On Sat., Nov. 12, 2016, our OSA student chapter participated in Girls Science Day, an event hosted by Women in Science and Engineering, where hundreds of local area elementary school girls visitd Columbia campus and learned about science.


Our chapter's representative presented the chapter's activities at the Student Leadership Conference 2016, in Rochester, NY, as sponsored by OSA.


Volunteer dinner to thank members for putting their time and effort to NY MakerFaire in Oct. 1 and 2, 2016. More can be read at the OSA Centennial Grant Blog, which generously sponsored our event.


Columbia Engineering Experience visits the Lightwave Research Laboratory-Underrepresented high school students interested in pursuing science and engineering tour Prof. Bergman’s LRL to see what it is like to do research at Columbia.

10/1/2016 and 10/2/2016

Columbia OSA/SPIE Chapter presented three demos in New York Maker Faire; they are Laser Maze, Laser Harp and Heart Rate Monitored by Bio-opitcal Device Project. We hit a great success!!! Visitors were waiting in line to participate; kids and young teenagers were crazy about our demos and really got educated on optics and engineering after chatting with us. Many parents gave us much compliment with gratitude and we also got invitation from other Maker Faire organizer to present our booth in their event! Find more photos by clicking HERE.


Autumn Optics Carnival- Demo virtual reality, improved Laser Maze, and ice cream, engaging Columbia students in optics. Started noon Sep 15th at EE student lounge(Mudd 13th floor).


Welcome Bronx PS 279 to have an educational lab tour at Columbia Lightwave Research Lab.


Our chapter's optical demos, The School at Columbia, was presented at Imagine the Future 2016 Science and Engineering Expo.


Our chapter attended United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum for International Year of Light at United Nations.


Our Student Chapter host regular social activities that provide food and beverages for student members get together and extend their social networks.

09/2015 New York Maker Faire

Our project is an interactive laser maze experience, targeted for all ages, but young people will especially enjoy it. The idea is for the participants to enter a darkened area, and make their way through the area, retrieving several lions, and only hitting the laser beams a said number of times. We have tuned the game to have certain levels, and the difficulty level can be adjusted based on the participant. What we will bring to the exhibit are the lasers (low grade), prototype platforms programmed to move said lasers, the boards to create the enclosure, the stuffed lion animals for the participants to retrieve, and the personal computer with necessary interface connections to power the prototype boards. We will have explanation sheets about the science behind the exhibit, as well as information about optics at Columbia University. The purpose of this project is to elicit excitement for people in science, especially in optics.


Our student chapter participated in Engineering Explorations in collaboration with the University’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers. We taught 2 sessions of the Lasers and JELLO demo to girls from in and around New York City, ages 7th-­‐9th grade.


We hosted Dr. Philip Stahl for a lecture entitled: “James Webb Space Telescope: The First Light Machine.” We have over 40 people attended this lecture.


The student chapter participated in Girls Science Day at Columbia University – collaborating with the Columbia chapter of Women in Science(WiSc) to present a demo/experiment called “JellO and Lasers”


We hosted Dr. Michael Larson for a lecture entitled: "Starting your Own technologγ Company: Dos, Don'ts and Doubts." More than 30 people attended with a raffle for a Khet game after the lecture.