Bridging Mechanical Engineering and Optical Innovation With Declan Bhagwat

Jul 10, 2024 | Company Culture | 0 comments


At Circle Optics, we are an eclectic group of deeply curious individuals committed to making a difference through immersive experiences in aerospace, robotics, and entertainment. Meet Declan Bhagwat, our Optomechanical Engineering Intern. Bhagwat joins us from the University of Rochester, where he just earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and received the Emil J. Kuichling Award in 2023.  

Senior Mechanical Engineer, Carlos M. Terrero has this to say, “I’m thrilled to welcome Declan to our team. From the moment he stood up and started drawing on the whiteboard to explain a concept from one of his school projects, I knew he would be a great fit. I’m excited to see him bring his unique perspective and add to the cultural richness of our team. This internship presents a valuable opportunity for both Declan and Circle as we enhance creativity, innovation, and problem-solving within our team. Declan will be supporting several projects, particularly in enabling aircraft autonomy, where Circle is pioneering technologies for intelligent vehicle systems, especially as we look towards the future of flying cars and drones in urban air mobility (UAM).” 

As we welcomed him to the team we got to learn a bit more about his experience. Here are a few highlights:  

Student Expo Experience  

What initially drew me to Circle Optics was the facility itself. I had been in college for four years and never even visited Mercantile on Main. You enter, and it feels like a food court, making you question if you’re even in the right place. Then you go up to this modern floor with a hundred different startups, pristine facilities, and a maker lab. You walk into the Tea Room with beautiful old-fashioned architecture, and the setting just wows you. 

Meeting the team was fantastic; everyone was incredibly helpful and kind. I talked to Ian, the first employee, and he was very approachable. Bob Stanchus, a mechanical engineer, gave great insight into the day-to-day activities of an engineer at the company, and offered himself up as a resource to guide any of us looking for career advice or guidance. Everyone was so easy to talk to and eager to share their knowledge. 

What ultimately drew me back was the combination of meeting all the amazing people, experiencing the impressive facility, and feeling the welcoming atmosphere. And I can’t forget seeing the Hydra II camera—it looks like alien technology. That image is unforgettable, and trying to explain it to my friends was a fun challenge. All these factors made Circle Optics a place I was excited to return to. 

Mechanical Engineering Experience 

My internships with Webcor and Modern Railway Systems have been instrumental in preparing me for my role at Circle Optics. At Webcor, I gained invaluable experience in project management, handling tasks such as scheduling, budgeting, and managing timelines. Working on the massive project of rebuilding a sewage treatment plant in San Francisco taught me how to collaborate with a diverse range of professionals from various trades and companies. This experience honed my interpersonal skills and gave me a strong foundation in managing complex projects, which is crucial for my work at Circle Optics. 

At Modern Railway Systems, I had the opportunity to delve into both project management and technical aspects of engineering. Working on the Caltrain electrification project, I learned how to manage crew timelines, conduct circuit analysis, testing, and design. Despite starting with limited knowledge in electrical engineering, I quickly adapted and began creating my own circuit designs by the end of the internship. This hands-on experience taught me the importance of learning on the fly and applying theoretical knowledge to practical situations. These skills are directly applicable to my current role at Circle Optics, where I contribute to innovative optical technologies and assist in ensuring projects run smoothly and according to schedule. 

Overall, these internships have equipped me with a robust set of skills and experiences, preparing me to excel in the dynamic environment at Circle Optics. Whether it’s managing complex projects, working collaboratively with diverse teams, or quickly adapting to new technical challenges, I feel well-prepared to contribute to the innovative work being done here.

Immersive Camera Technology 

There’s a lot of talk about virtual reality, but I often find it lacks true realism. Current VR feels animated and not particularly high quality, which limits its immersive potential. It’s cool and fun, but it doesn’t truly place you in the real world. With Circle Optics’ technology, however, it could literally make virtual reality indistinguishable from the real world. It would look real, feel real, and be highly interactive. It could even be live-streamed, making it the next step in actual immersive experiences. 

Circle Optics is leading the drive in this area, and that’s what drew me to the company. Their work on the Hydra II camera and various projects, including their drone project, demonstrates the endless applications of their technology. The diversity and innovation in their projects show the broad impact they can make. I’m excited to be a part of this team and contribute to pushing their technology forward in any way I can, putting my stamp on whatever they aim to achieve. 


I’ve had a pretty diverse set of internships and classes, allowing me to gain experience in various areas. I’ve studied and performed tasks such as to optical fixturing and metrology, so I have a good sense of what I’m coming into. My ability to learn on the fly and digest information quickly will be very helpful here. One of Circle Optics’ key values is innovation. Being able to absorb information and generate new ideas aligns well with how Circle wants to operate. I believe my skills will fit perfectly with that. 

As for my future in optical engineering, I never really imagined myself in this field, but Rochester is the hub of it. I went to school here, took classes, and enjoyed every part of it. Every day I work in optics, I learn more than in any other field because the people here are so knowledgeable, and everything related to optics is here. This makes it an exciting and enriching field to be a part of. 


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