The College of Optical Engineering of Zhejiang University, which is the predeceesor of the College of Optical Science and Engineering, is developed from the discipline of Optical Instrumentation, which was also the birthplace of the Optical Engineering Discipline in China. The Optical Engineering Discipline which the department relies on is a national key discipline and also one of the most influential disciplines in Zhejiang University. Proposed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Mr. Wang Daheng, a CAS member and expert in optics, the National Ministry of Education started the major of Optical Instrumentation in Zhejiang University in 1952 as the first in China, and based on which, Zhejiang University established the Department of Optical Instrumentation Engineering in 1960. The name was then changed into the Department of Optical Engineering in 1998. Approved by the State Science and Technology Commission, the Department of Optical Instrumentation Engineering founded the Optical Instrument Test Base in the November of 1965. In the 1960s, the department developed the high speed camera system which successfully recorded the process of the nuclear explosion, contributing greatly to the development of the A- and H-bombs in China. The department was awarded the “Advanced Group” by the National Conference for Science and Technology in 1978. The national ministries have set up a number of key disciplines and research bases in the department since 1980s. One of the earliest PhD programs of Optical Instrumentation was first established here in 1984, followed by the foundation of the postdoctoral research station in Scientific Instrumentation in the next year. In 1988, the Optical Engineering Discipline of Zhejiang University was honored the national key discipline, and in the year of 1989, the National Development and Reform Commission (formerly as National Planning Commission) of China approved the establishment of the State Key Laboratory of Modern Optical Instrumentation. In 1994, the Ministry of Science and Technology (formerly as State Science and Technology Commission) approved the foundation of the National Engineering Research Center for Optical Instrumentation. The Commission for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense approved the foundation of the National Defense Key Discipline Laboratory in 2007. Since 1952, more than 6000 bachelors, 1500 masters and 300 PhDs have graduated from the department, which has made a great contribution to the national economy, society and defense, and thus the department has developed into a nationwide significant and famous base for research and education in optical engineering.

Since 1990s, based on keeping and developing the traditional advantages of the discipline, the department has expanded its research to the field of optoelectronic information in demand of the development of the discipline as well as the society. The department has completed the “211” key construction project, “Optoelectronic Information Technology and Instruments”. The “211” project in the tenth “Five-Year Plan”, “Photonics Technology and Optoelectronic Information Engineering” accomplished in the department was awarded as the first symbolic achievement of Zhejiang University. In 2001 and 2004, the Optical Engineering Discipline of Zhejiang University was again honored the national key discipline. The discipline was ranked the fourth place in the discipline ratings by the Ministry of Education and Chinese Academy of Sciences in the year of 2001, and second in the first-level discipline ratings of all graduate schools in China in 2004. The postdoctoral research station of Optical Engineering was honored as national excellent station in 2005. The Discipline of Optical Engineering was ranked first in the ratings of the first-level disciplines organized by Chinese Academic Degree & Graduate Education Development Center in 2006. The Discipline of Optical Engineering had been ranked first in the ratings of the first-level disciplines of all graduate schools in China for four years from 2005 to 2008.

The College of Optical Science and Engineering has 5 research institutes and 2 research centers, which are Institute of Optical Engineering, Institute of Optoelectronic Information and Detection Technology, Institute of Optoelectronic Technology, Institute of Optoelectronic Display Technology, Institute of Advanced Nanophotonics, the Center for Optical and Electromagnetic Research, and the Center for Optical Inertia Technology. We have over 120 faculty members (till May 2010), including 66 faculties for research and teaching (32 professors, 27 PhD supervisors), 19 supporting staffs for experiments and administration, 11 migrant faculties, 14 postdoctoral fellows and 11 re-hiring facilities. Over 85% of the faculties for teaching and research have a PhD degree. There are also 1 national "May 1" Labor Medal winner, 2 Chinese Youth Science and Technology Prize winners, 2 “Thousand Talents Program” professors, 3 “Yangtze River Scholar Award” professors, 1 “Provincial Superfine Specialist”, 5 “Qiushi Scholar Award” professors, 3 “National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholar” winners, 2 “New Century Excellent Talents” winners and 6 foreign faculties (4 Europeans). About 140 four-year undergraduates, 90 master candidates and 40 PhD candidates are enrolled each year.

In the past 5 years, the college has accomplished several international advanced achievements in the areas of micro- and nano-optical waveguides, optical optoelectronic thin film and optoelectronic display, high sensitivity optical fiber sensing and metamaterials research. It has formed a complete scheme from fundamental research in the State Key Laboratory to industrial technology research and development in the National Engineering Research Center. The department has completed over 150 National Research Projects, including 5 “973” projects (1 as principal investigator and involved in the other 4), more than 10 “863” projects, 1 National Science and Technology Support Project, 3 National Science Foundation for Distinguished Young Scholars and other more than 40 projects from the National Science Foundation. It has received 7 national or provincial awards, and published more than 450 SCI indexed papers and 15 textbooks. It has 49 research projects undergoing, and over 40 million funding support annually. The production and research benefits achieved from the college are over 1 billion.

During the 12th “Five-Year Plan”, we will strive to maintain the national leading position and reach the international advanced level. Our college will strengthen the fundamental and applied research on the micro- and nano-photonics technology and devices, technology and instruments for high-precision optical detection, devices and technology of advanced optoelectronics, forming several influential research directions as well as an influential group of academic leaders domestically and internationally.