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SPIE Professional

19 Win SPIE Education and Outreach Grants

Grant recipients focus on giving back to the optics community.

By Beth Kelley

In the first round of awards for 2009, SPIE has named 19 winners of the SPIE Education and Outreach Grants.

For many of the recipients, the focus is giving back to the community and engaging grade school students in hands-on science.

The Penn State Electro-Optics Center (USA) has offered a science summer camp for the past three years, with demand always exceeding the available spaces for the week-long program. One of 19 winners of a 2009 grant from SPIE, the center will be able to buy more equipment and expand classes to reach a wider audience this summer.

SPIE is dedicated to promoting optics and photonics around the world by encouraging young people to pursue education and professional training in the field. In 2008, the Society provided $1.9 million for scholarships, grants, and other activities supporting research and education.

Koç University in Turkey also has an ongoing summer program for youngsters that is supported by SPIE grants. Teams of students build solar-powered model vehicles as part of their educational outreach to get elementary and high school students excited about optics. Over the past four years, the student teams, coached by SPIE Student Chapter members, have built and raced entirely-solar powered model cars, blimps, and boats. The SPIE award this year will allow the chapter to add submarines to its solar fleet.

Students prepare their solar blimp at a Koç University education outreach event.

In Spain, the Institute of Photonics Sciences (ICFO) puts on a special Dia de la Luz or "Day of Light" optics and photonics presentation. The SPIE Student Chapter organizes and invites 40 to 50 local high school students to the institute to introduce optics through presentations and demonstrations with everyday examples of photonics. The SPIE grant will fund this year's outreach.

Outreach at the University Level 

Outreach at the college level also has the potential to recruit new optics students. The SPIE Student Chapter at Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, Mexico, last year put on an optics workshop, inviting speakers and putting on events for undergraduates and members of the community. The workshop was a hit, and the success is reflected in several students who now are involved in the optical sciences, says Paulina Segovia Olvera, a Chapter member.

The SPIE grant will allow the chapter to build on that success this year, she says.

The first round of 2009 recipients of the SPIE Education and Outreach Grants are:

  • Sergio Ivan Carrillo, Grupo de Optica Aplicada, Colombia
  • Wendy Gilipin, Penn State Electro Optics Center, USA
  • Jason Grenier, da Vinci Engineering Enrichment Program, USA
  • Fenna Hanes, the SPIE Educator Award winner for 2009, New England Board of Higher Education, USA
  • Alexander Kalyanov, Saratov State University, Russia
  • Sarah Kendrew, Leiden University, Netherlands
  • Roman Khakimov, National Taras Shevchenko University of Kyiv, Ukraine
  • Achamma Kurian, Catholicate College, India
  • Brittany Lynn, University of Arizona SOCk (Student Optics Chapter), USA
  • Nadezhda Maltseva, St. Petersburg State University ITMO, Russia
  • Sandro Perrone, ICFO SPIE Student Chapter, Spain
  • Luis Ponce, CICATA, Mexico
  • Paulina Segovia Olvera, Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, Mexico
  • Cristina Solano, Centro de Investigaciones en Optica, Mexico
  • Sarun Sumriddetchkajorn, National Electronics & Computer Technology Center, Thailand
  • Aivars Vembris, Latvijas University, Latvia
  • Suping Wang, University of North Texas, USA
  • Nazmi Yilmaz, Koç University, Turkey
  • Feng Zhou, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 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. Examples are projects that engage grade-school students in hands-on science at science fairs, optics conferences, or other activities.

Applications for the grants are judged on their potential to impact students and increase optics awareness.

Deadlines for applications are 15 January and 29 May.

Fenna Hanes, senior director at the New England Board of Higher Education (USA), was awarded an SPIE Outreach and Education Grant for the production of a problem-based-learning instructional video on photons, titled Photon PBL. The video will be used to support problem-based-learning in science in secondary schools throughout the United States. An article on the Photon PBL program appeared in the April 2008 issue of SPIE Professional.

Hanes also received the 2009 SPIE Educator Award for her tireless efforts to promote optics and photonics. 

DOI: 10.1117/2.4200904.43

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