ARO High School Apprenticeship


Applicants must be Junior and Graduating Senior high school students. The application includes several essay questions, a current school transcript, and letter of recommendation from either a math or science teacher with whom the applicant has had coursework. No advanced training is necessary; we are just looking for students who are eager to learn more about science and scientific research!

Import Dates

Download the Application Form

Program Organizers:

Joshua Bradford

Outreach and Development

Christina Willis

CO-PI Laser Development

Yuan Liu

CO-PI Spectroscopy

For additional information please contact us by phone 407-823-6832 or email

Are you a highly motivated student with an interest in math and science? Apply for a paid internship with the Laser Plasma Laboratory at CREOL! This internship is an excellent experience for any student interested in broadening his or her understanding of scientific research.

Optics and photonics influences every aspect of society and shapes the world. The College of Optics and Photonics/CREOL and the Townes Laser Institute (TLI) at the University of Central Florida are internationally recognized as institutes of the highest quality for education and research in the field of optics and laser technologies. As part of CREOL and TLI, the Laser Plasma Laboratory (LPL) undertakes various cutting-edge research projects in laser development and laser spectroscopy. LPL is proud to have been awarded funding by the Army Research Office in order to offer two paid high school apprenticeships. The apprenticeship is paid at $10/hour for a total of up to 300 hours. The goal of these apprenticeships is to offer hands on experience to high school students interested in technical fields and scientific research.


Laser Development

CO-PI Christina Willis
This project deals with passive characterization of various materials and optical components. The student will first be taught basic optics, laser fundamentals and safety practices. This will include both independent reading and lecture/discussion sessions with our laser development team members. The student will be familiarized with the laboratory setting, and trained on the operation of a low power amplified stimulated emission (ASE) source under close supervision by the CO-PI and other qualified graduate students. As an initial test of acquired laboratory skills, the student will then fully characterize the ASE source and learn data calibration. Next a variety of optical materials and elements, including common optical glasses (such as fused silica and BK7), optical feedback elements (such as fiber Bragg gratings, dichroic mirrors, and fiber Bragg gratings), and other more novel materials such as chalcogenide glasses, will be examined and characterized using the ASE source. Through the course of this project the student will gain a good understanding of basic optical principles and laboratory techniques, as well as sound analytical problem solving skill set, self-direction, and general exposure to a research laboratory environment. Work produced by the student will make valuable reference material, and will establish baselines for new materials and optical elements that we have access to through our various collaborators. Characterization work done on certain optical feedback elements could lead to co-authorship for the student on upcoming publications.

Laser Spectroscopy

CO-PI Yuan Liu
Currently obtaining accurate compositional information of samples of interest in a timely way is often of crucial importance to homeland security, forensic analysis, food safety and environmental contamination monitoring. In many of these applications, laser based spectroscopy techniques greatly expedite the analysis processes, and are potentially capable to access samples that are difficult or dangerous for human-beings to reach. Raman spectroscopy is one of these techniques that focus on unveiling the molecular composition of samples. By studying Raman spectroscopy, the student will be exposed to the basic concepts of laser spectroscopy. The CO-PI and the spectroscopy team members in LPL will demonstrate the operations of laboratory equipment needed for Raman spectroscopy experiments, from a simple continuous wave laser to sophisticated spectrometer and detection systems. Eventually the student will be trained to operate such laboratory equipment safely and independently. The student will start Raman experiments with simple organic (such as naphthalene) and inorganic (such as calcite) samples. The trainings on simple samples will prepare the student with necessary knowledge and experiences to perform Raman analysis on more complicated samples. The last part of the project involves hands-on Raman studies of a more complicated organic sample with dopant materials (such as intentionally polluted food samples or organic/biological mixtures). The student will try to distinguish the material of interest from the rest of mixtures using characteristic Raman peaks. The project will show how scientific research can benefit real life, and motivate the student's interest towards a STEM degree.


Students will be supervised primarily by their respective CO-PIs, Christina Willis and Yuan Liu. These two individuals are among the more senior graduate students in the research group and are well trained in lab etiquette and safety. Beyond the CO-PIs other members of the Laser Plasma Laboratory (LPL) will offer supervision and guidance. LPL is among the larger research groups in CREOL with some 25 members and offers a supportive community for fostering learning and quality scientific research. All of the LPL offices and labs are located in close proximity in the same building, which re-enforces the community aspect of the group.
The student will be permitted to operate autonomously around the building and in the offices spaces, but will not be permitted to work alone in the laboratory space without the supervision of their respective CO-PI or another member of LPL.


Details regarding housing for students from outside the greater Orlando metropolitan are currently being addressed, and more information should be available shortly.