University of

Background and justification of the project

The Master of Science programme in Electrical Engineering (MSc EE) and Applied Physics (MSc AP) are offered by Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e). The two-year, English-taught MSc EE programme is internationally oriented and focuses on designing and realizing smart and novel electrical components and systems. The two-year, English-taught MSc AP programme is internationally oriented and focuses on applied aspects of physics. In both programmes there is a large effort in terms of research and education dedicated to photonics.

Photonics research and innovation is a major spearhead for the TU/e. Yet, its popularity among students is still limited when comparing to the world class TU/e expertise in this area. As we project an increasing interest from industry for engineers trained in the basic area of photonics we aim to create relevant master level introductory set of MOOCs in the area of photonics for TU/e students. To support new forms of learning that better suit the desires of a new generation of students we need to make sure that the specialization will be available in the form of online-education/MOOC. For the TU/e students the availability of online study material and courses offers flexibility in contact hours and will make choosing for a specialization in this area, potentially more attractive for students looking to broaden their knowledge base. The different motivations are further detailed below. Aside for the need to create high quality teaching material and environment for TU/e students, we envision that this activity will also support additional ambitions of the TU/e including:

  1. Online presence:
    There is a growing awareness in the higher education world that the classical educational set-up of scheduled frontal lectures and exercise classes has run its course. Many universities are promoting the shift to online education. The TU/e is lagging behind in creating MOOCs. The CvB is pushing all faculties to create on-line educational content to move on par with other technical universities in The Netherlands (TUD TU Twente) on the amount and offering of engineering MOOCs.
  2. International visibility:
    One of the biggest issues with the research and educational activities in the TU/e is the visibility of the research groups and institutions to potential students (Masters and PhD). While world class research is being carried in the TU/e in this area many potential students (especially at the research stages of their studies) are completely unaware of the scope and quality of photonics research in Eindhoven.  
  3. Industrial relevance:
    Photonics and the use of light in different applications is growing quickly. However the required knowhow and skills are lacking for many TU/e graduates (who chose to specialize in other disciplines). As the demand for engineers with training in the field of photonics is expected to rise dramatically in the coming years, proper educational tracks and postacademic training schemes in the area of photonics are essential to supply this demand.  

Objectives and expected outcomes

The project will include the production of three MOOCs in the area of photonics covering the three main underlying areas of knowledge:

  1. Physical principles of photonic devices
  2. Design, simulation and fabrication of photonic integrated devices
  3. Optical communications technologies

Project goals/factors of success

TU/e student participation:
Short term: 20 students per MOOC
Long term: All Students taking the equivalent TU/e courses are doing it via the MOOC and the average number of participating students doubles

Online presence:
Short term: 3 courses covering photonics from the fundamental physical principles to its application in optical communication systems are launched  
Long term: Within 3 years, co-integration of MOOCs into a specialization track offered by Coursera

International visibility:
Short term: Initiate MOOCs via Coursera
Long term: Target is to attract more students from diverse backgrounds to choose for the TU/e. 

Industry demands:
Short term: Publicize new MOOC in industry and collect possible feedback
Long term: Within 3 years we will have an increase in M.Sc graduates choosing to specialize in photonics

Project design and management

There are two main risks identified:

  1. Internal: The activities span three capacity groups (PSN [AP], PHI [EE], ECO[EE]) across two faculties and involve several staff members. In order to launch a coherent MOOC package, all three MOOCs should be completed. Constraints on availability of required teachers across the 3 different course might delay eventual launch of specialization.
  2. External: The photonics specialization was chosen among other reasons also because at the time the decision was made there were no comparable courses available on-line. However if we are not quick enough these will appear.

The three different MOOCs are being created by different groups and different people. A possible bottleneck during actual filming seems at this moment highly unlikely but remains to be seen. The dependencies are more critical at a program level. The ambition is to launch the 3 MOOC as a coherent package under the photonics title. In case production of one of the three MOOCs suffers a large delay the launching of the complete package may be delayed as well. However by opting to first deploy the content in MOOCs and not immediately pushing for a Coursera Specialization track, we can still launch the separate MOOCs for evaluation and the use by TU/e students.

Dissemination and sustainability of the project

Promoting the newly created specialization track on Photonics can be done by using social media sites and promotion activities in large conferences and exhibitions

Results and learnings

This project is still ongoing, and has the following deliverables:

For more information, please contact:

Associate Professor
Oded Raz
Electro-Optical Communications
+31 40 247 3521
Assistant Professor
Alberto González Curto
Photonics and Semiconductor Nanophysics
+31 40 247 4205
University Researcher
Sylwester Latkowski
Photonic Integration
+31 40 247 4337