Synopsys 2020 Optical Design Competition Results

Optical Solutions Editorial Team

Aug 24, 2020 / 4 min read

We are pleased to announce the winners of Synopsys’ 2020 Robert S. Hilbert Memorial Optical Design Competition. Our annual competition celebrates exceptional optical design research projects by college students in North America who use Synopsys’ optical software solutions. The competition is open to students working toward a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree.

“We are dedicated to supporting the next generation of optical engineers with our student design competition and other university outreach programs,” said Stuart David, group director of Synopsys’ Optical Solutions Group. “These awards are a recognition of the excellence we see in student projects, as demonstrated by their creative approaches to optical design challenges and sophisticated use of Synopsys’ software tools.”

This year, students from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, the University of Arizona, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and the University of Rochester received awards for their submissions.

Meet the 2020 Award Recipients

Cody Brelage

Cody Brelage, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Cody Brelage is an undergraduate student in Optical Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Brelage received an award for his project titled, “Comprehensive Automotive Lighting Array.” He used Synopsys’ LucidShape software to design exterior automotive lighting systems, including a stop/tail combination light and low- and high-beam headlights.

“Creating this project was an experience that I thoroughly enjoyed,” said Brelage. “Though it was hard at times, my support at home and in Rose-Hulman’s Optical Engineering program really helped me to push past limitations and create designs that I can truly be proud of. Thank you to everyone who made this possible, especially for a freshman.”

Sarah Grabowski

Sarah Grabowski, University of Rochester

Sarah Grabowski is an undergraduate student in Optical Engineering at the University of Rochester. Grabowski received an award for her project titled, “Black Polar Bears: Aerial UV Survey Camera for Arctic Wildlife Census.” She used Synopsys’ CODE V software to design a wide-angle camera lens for UV aerial photography from an altitude of 1220 meters.

“I was fascinated to learn that polar bear pelts strongly absorb light in the UV,” said Grabowski. “This inspired the concept for a UV-sensitive aerial camera that would allow for counting bears that would otherwise be indistinguishable from the surrounding snow. I feel honored to be awarded for a project I find naturally interesting and that has tangible consequences for gauging the efficacy of conservation efforts to protect arctic animal populations threatened by rising global temperatures.”

Jieun Ryu

Jieun Ryu, University of Arizona

Jieun Ryu is a Ph.D. candidate in Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona. Ryu received an award for her project titled, “Three Mirror, Four Reflection Anastigmatic Imaging System.” She used CODE V to design a novel, compact imaging system that illustrated methods to make manufacturable aspheric surfaces with minimal aspheric departure.

“I am very honored to receive this award,” said Ryu. “It was an invaluable experience that allowed me to deepen and hone my lens design skills. I would like to thank Synopsys for all they do to help students learn about lens design.”

Shohreh Shadalou

Shohreh Shadalou, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Shohreh Shadalou is a Ph.D. candidate in Optical Science and Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Shadalou received an award for her project titled, “Tunable LED-Based Illuminator.” She used Synopsys’ LightTools software to design freeform optics to achieve dynamic illumination from spot mode to flood mode for an LED-based desk lamp.

“I am delighted and grateful to have been selected for this award as I am starting my journey in illumination engineering,” said Shadalou. “This would not have been possible without the guidance of my adviser, support from the Center for Freeform Optics, and the educational license and technical support provided by Synopsys. Using LightTools in this project enabled us to accelerate the design process and overcome the challenges in the design of a tunable freeform system.”

Nick Takaki

Nick Takaki, University of Rochester

Nick Takaki is a Ph.D. candidate in Optics at the University of Rochester. Takaki received an award for his project titled, “Off-Axis Conics as Base Surfaces for Freeform Optics Enable Null Testability.” He used CODE V to investigate freeform design methods that improve interferometric testability and reduce system fabrication and alignment costs.

“I am very lucky to have gotten to use the brand-new off-axis conic freeforms in CODE V at exactly the right time that I needed them in my PhD research,” said Takaki. “These surfaces, and their parameterization, are excellent for this type of surface.”

About the Robert S. Hilbert Memorial Optical Design Competition

The annual Robert S. Hilbert Memorial Optical Design Competition recognizes excellence in student optical design projects. The competition was established in 2000 by Optical Research Associates (ORA®), now Synopsys’ Optical Solutions Group, and in 2009 was named in honor of ORA’s former president and chief executive officer, Robert S. Hilbert. To participate, students in North America can enter an optical design class assignment or thesis work that uses Synopsys’ optical design software. For more information, visit

For more information about Synopsys Optical Solutions university and other educational programs, visit

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