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SPIE Education Outreach Grants help expand optics and photonics knowledge, interest

10 June 2009

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA -- Recipients of 19 SPIE Education Outreach Grants announced recently will expand understanding of optics and photonics among students from grade school through graduate school in countries around the world and attract students to university programs.

The awards were the first of two rounds of education outreach grants SPIE awards annually. In 2008, the Society provided $1.9 million in support of these and other scholarships, grants, and education programs around the world.

"Education and training are crucial in times of economic downturn," said SPIE President María Yzuel. "It is necessary to be well-trained for the new opportunities that become available after an economical crisis. In particular, the optics and photonics industry will need an influx of highly skilled workers. Effective education programs help to attract more students to science and technology, and I am very proud of the part SPIE's Education Outreach Grants play in providing these programs."

Among the programs awarded grants is an ongoing summer program on solar power provided by Koç Univ. in Turkey for elementary and high-school students. Coached by SPIE Student Chapter members, teams of students build solar-powered model vehicles.

Participants in a science program run by the SPIE Koc Univ. Student Chapter

Over the past four years, the student teams have built and raced entirely solar-powered model cars, blimps, and boats. This year's award from SPIE will allow the chapter to add submarines to its solar fleet.

A grant to the Penn State Electro-Optics Center (USA) will enable purchase of equipment and expanded class offerings for a popular science summer camp it has run for the past three years, and allow the center to reach a wider audience.

Another SPIE grant will fund a Dia de la Luz (Day of Light) presentation at the Institute of Photonics Sciences (ICFO) in Spain. Through the program, the ICFO SPIE Student Chapter will introduce local high school students to optics through presentations and demonstrations with everyday examples of photonics.

Through its grant, the SPIE Student Chapter at Univ. Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, Mexico, will build on successes of an optics workshop presented last year. Last year, the chapter invited speakers and organized events for undergraduates and members of the community which resulted in several students joining the optical sciences program, said chapter member Paulina Segovia Olvera.

The full list of first-round grant recipients includes:

  • Suping Wang, Univ. of North Texas, USA
  • Sarah Kendrew, Leiden Univ., Netherlands
  • Achamma Kurian, Catholicate College, India
  • Nazmi Yilmaz, Koç Univ., Turkey
  • Cristina Solano, Centro de Investigaciones en Optica, Mexico
  • Paulina Segovia Olvera, Univ. Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, Mexico
  • Wendy Gilipin, Penn State Electro Optics Center, USA
  • Alexander Kalyanov, Saratov State Univ., Russia
  • Sergio Ivan Carrillo, Grupo de Optica Aplicada, Colombia
  • Luis Ponce, CICATA, Mexico
  • Roman Khakimov, National Taras Shevchenko Univ. of Kyiv, Ukraine
  • Nadezhda Maltseva, St. Petersburg State Univ. ITMO, Russia
  • Feng Zhou, Indiana Univ. of Pennsylvania, USA
  • Fenna Hanes, New England Board of Higher Education, USA
  • Sarun Sumriddetchkajorn, National Electronics & Computer Technology Center, Thailand
  • Aivars Vembris, Latvijas Univ., Latvia
  • Sandro Perrone, ICFO SPIE Student Chapter, Spain
  • Brittany Lynn, Univ. of Arizona SOCk (Student Optics Chapter), USA
  • Jason Grenier, da Vinci Engineering Enrichment Program, USA.

Qualifying not-for-profit organizations such as universities, optics centers, science centers, primary and secondary schools, youth clubs, industry associations, and international optical societies are eligible for support from SPIE for education and outreach projects. Applications are judged on their potential to impact students and increase optics awareness.

Deadlines for applications are 15 January and 29 May. Read more about the SPIE Education Outreach Grants program.

Photo caption: SPIE Koç Univ. Student Chapter Advisor Prof. Ali Serpenguzel (third from right) poses with participants in the chapter's solar-energy program for elementary- and high-school students.

SPIE is the international optics and photonics society, founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Serving more than 188,000 constituents from 138 countries, the Society advances emerging technologies through interdisciplinary information exchange, continuing education, publications, patent precedent, and career and professional growth. SPIE annually organizes and sponsors approximately 25 major technical forums, exhibitions, and education programs in North America, Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific. In 2008, the Society provided $1.9 million for scholarships, grants, and other activities supporting research and education around the world. For more information, visit SPIE.org.


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