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SPIE Professional: Bonus Web Content

SPIE Awards Annual Education and Outreach Grants

Award winners conduct programs to increase awareness about optical technologies and solar energy and to help teachers bring optics education alive.

SPIE distributed $1.6 million last year through education grants, scholarships, and awards to promising and accomplished SPIE members and is expected to do the same this year. Individuals and organizations in India, Romania, Mexico, New Mexico, and at Penn State, for instance, have received SPIE support for outreach and educational programs in optics for youth.

In its first round of Education and Outreach Grants for 2008, SPIE recently gave support to members in Turkey, Lebanon, Mexico, and elsewhere for activities to increase awareness about optical technologies and solar energy.

  • At Centro de Investigaciones en Óptica, A.C. (CIO) in Leon, Mexico, SPIE member Christina Solano has been awarded an outreach grant to buy materials for a science club that holds workshops for local elementary and secondary school students. About 160 students attend each month and participate in at least six different experiments each session. The grant will be used to purchase equipment for workshops using holograms, spectroscopes, mirrors, and other optical devices. 
  • Students at Koç University, Turkey, used their SPIE grant to organize a race using solar-powered model blimps. University students coached elementary, middle, and high school students in building and racing the blimps. The Koç University Science Society, which organized the event, also organized a solar-powered model boat race in 2007 and a solar-powered model car race in 2006.
  • Brigitte Wex, assistant professor at Lebanese American University (LAU) (Lebanon), will use her grant to purchase equipment and educational supplies to promote new optoelectronic solar cell devices at the annual Science & Arts Fair hosted by LAU that draws high school students from around the country. Electricity is rationed in Lebanon, and manufacturing solar cells is prohibitively expensive; Wex's goal of organizing the fair is to brainstorm affordable ways to manufacture and integrate solar cells into everyday use.
  • Three Romanian teachers are purchasing professional optical equipment to develop experiments and other educational projects that will introduce their students to photonics. Grant recipient Dan Sporea, director of the Center for Science Education and Training at the National Institute for Laser, Plasma and Radiation Physics in Magurele, Romania, is assisting the teachers and will loan the equipment to each school for four months so the teachers can organize photonics training and after-school science club activities.

The first round of 2008 SPIE outreach award winners:

  • Bauman Moscow State Technical University (Russia)
  • Center for Science Education and Training, National Institute for Laser, Plasma and Radiation Physics (Romania)
  • Centro de Investigaciones en Óptica, A.C. (Mexico)
  • Chulalongkorn University (Thailand)
  • EASTCONN/Three Rivers Community College (CT)
  • Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (India)
  • International School of Photonics, Cochin University of Science and Technology (India)
  • Koç University (Turkey)
  • Lab for Laser Energetics (LLE) at the University of Rochester and the Rochester Section of OSA (USA)
  • Lebanese American University (Lebanon)
  • National Capital Section of the Optical Society of America (USA)
  • New Mexico Optics Industry Association (USA)
  • New England Board of Higher Education (USA) (Described in the April 2008 issue of SPIE Professional
  • Oak Ridge High School Science Department (MI)
  • Penn State Electro-Optics Center (USA)
  • SPIE Student Chapter and National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (Thailand)
  • Texas State Technical College, Waco (USA)
  • Universidad Nacional de San Luis (Argentina)

SPIE provides support to members for photonics related education and outreach projects that increase awareness about the field of optics and photonics. 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 project support through an application process.

Grants are awarded twice a year, and SPIE will offer more than $300,000 in grants and scholarships this year to support SPIE Members.

The next deadline for SPIE Education and Outreach Grant applications is January.

Have a question or comment about SPIE Professional magazine? Write to us at spieprofessional@spie.org.

Posted for July through September, 2008.

DOI: 10.1117/2.4200807.16

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