« on: July 10, 2012, 05:31:28 AM »
Many decades ago I had the same dream. Sadly it never came to pass. I ended up with a diploma as a nuclear physicist, but never worked in the field nor in optics.
First of all studying physics will yield some surprises: Optics is not exactly what you would call a focus area in research. Your best bet will be to specialize in solid-state physics. If you are lucky, you may be able to acquire useful know-how regarding lens coatings.
Then once you have completed your studies there is the next surprise: The companies you would like to work for are few and far between. They may be doing their research in regions you have not expected. Now the internet allows for something I then had no chance of doing: You can easily research information on the target companies. How many optical engineers do work there? Would you want to work there? What would be the payment? Is it a good idea specializing in such an area?
You will find good information using both Google and Wikipedia, the latter being highly useful, because you will be able to find information about company histories, which are otherwise mostly unavailable. This will broaden your view and yes, there are also companies amongst the Leica spin-offs doing research in the U.S., but as far as I know only regarding military equipment (rangefinders, night vision devices and so on).