SPIE Student Services and SPIE President Kevin Harding hosted numerous activities for students at SPIE Optics+Photonics in San Diego 9-14 August. They included an all-day leadership workshop, a networking lunch, presentations of scholarships and awards, and several opportunities for students to socialize and exhibit their research and news about their SPIE Student Chapters.
Special courses and events were also hosted especially for Early Career Professionals (ECPs).
"Many new collaborations get started here," said Carlos Lopez-Mariscal who works in the Laser Cooling and Trapping Group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Lopez-Mariscal said he has established lasting relationships with others in the optics community in Mexico, Columbia, South Africa, Scotland, and elsewhere because of his past attendance at SPIE Optics+Photonics, including when he was a student. Because of his connections, he has also assisted in establishing several SPIE Student Chapters throughout the world.
Networking and Awards
Dozens of students networked with industry and academic leaders at a Student Lunch with the Experts on Monday where the Newport and Spectra-Physics Research Excellence Travel Awards were distributed. The awards cover travel to San Diego for many students who present cutting edge research at SPIE Optics+Photonics.
The awards are "one of the most valuable things we do as a company," according to Randy Heyler, senior director of Strategic Marketing for Newport, who presented the awards. He called the award recipients "the future of our industry." The Newport Spectra-Physics Research Excellence Awards are available to any student who has an accepted paper for presentation at SPIE Optics+Photonics or SPIE Photonics West.
Newport Corp. develops innovative products and solutions for lasers, opto-mechanical components and mounts, optical filters, photonic instruments, and other systems and devices. Spectra-Physics, a member of the Newport family of brands, is a leader in laser technology and offers lasers, optical filters, diffraction gradings, and more.
Winners of the student awards included four from Pennsylvania State University, Michael Motyka, Michael Stinger, Justin Liou, and Jyotsna Bhamidipati; Ozan Cakmakci from the College of Optics & Photonics at the University of Central Florida; Ashwin Wagadarikar, Duke University; Lane Martin, Missouri University of Science and Technology; Ramzi N. Zahreddine from the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology; Ignacio Gallardo, University of Texas at Austin; Neetu Chopra, University of Florida; and Jonathan Suter, University of Missouri at Columbia.
Among the experts at the lunch were Harding, Optical Metrology Leader at GE Global Research in New York (USA); SPIE President-Elect Maria Yzuel of the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Spain); Rachel Jakubiak and Jim Grote of the U.S. Air Force Research Lab; Jeffery Puschell of Raytheon; and Didier Pribat of Ecole Polytechnique (France).
Scholarships and Grants
SPIE also honored scholarship recipients and other award winners during the week-long event.
A reception for the 2008 winner of the William H. Price Scholarship in Optical Engineering provided the backdrop for a reunion of sorts among past scholarship recipients.
Past Price Scholarship recipients Julie L. Bentley, advanced conceptual design manager and senior optical designer at Corning in New York; Rich Youngworth of Light Capture; and Costin Curatu, an intra-ocular lens and singlet designer at Alcon in Fort Worth, Texas, who's finishing his PhD at UCF-CREOL, posed for a photograph with Margie Price, William Price's widow.
This year's recipient is Ozan Cakmakci of the University of Central Florida.
SPIE earlier announced that the William H. Price Scholarship has been renamed the Optical Design and Engineering Scholarship. The scholarship now will honor both Price and Warren Smith, legends in optical design. Its scope will also be expanded to recognize prominent individuals who have made significant contributions over their careers to the field of optical design and engineering, with emphasis on lens design.
On Saturday, about 100 students from across the globe attended a leadership workshop to learn how to create and sustain an SPIE Student Chapter. They exchanged ideas about how to motivate colleagues at their respective universities to participate in outreach and professional development activities.
They also heard from Sanjay Krishna, associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of New Mexico (USA), and SPIE President Kevin Harding.
Krishna presented a talk entitled "The Journey Is As Important As the Destination," tracing his own journey from the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras to graduate school in Mumbai and later at the University of Michigan (USA) to his current faculty position. Krishna, who received the SPIE Early Career Achievement Award earlier this year, offered seven important lessons to illustrate his journey so far.
- If things succeed, give everyone around you credit; if they fail, take the blame.
- Avoid being rude or unprofessional in your personal behavior
- Respect people who work for\with you
- Be assertive, but not necessarily aggressive
- Learn to laugh at yourself
- Conduct a worse-case scenario analysis
- Realize that hard work never killed anyone
Harding encouraged the students to make sure they sat in on at least one conference at SPIE Optics+Photonics that covered "something you know nothing about." After all, Harding explained, the field of optics and photonics is all about interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation.
Optics in Their Future
On Sunday more than a dozen optics educators and other professionals offered about 100 students and ECPs career advice and tips on giving effective presentations; job interviewing; writing proposals and journal articles; and spreading the word about the importance of science education.
Panelists for sessions discussing career opportunities included Krishna; Youngworth; Brigitte Wex, assistant professor of Chemistry at Lebanese American University; former SPIE President Malgorzata Kujawinska of Politechnika Warszawska; Marc Himel of Tessera North America; and David Wick of Sandia National Labs.
SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs addressed the luncheon attendees, emphasizing the vast array of opportunities in the field of optics and photonics and the growing need for - and shortage of - technical professionals to solve climate, energy, health, manufacturing, and other problems affecting humanity.
"Solutions to these problems will require technical, economic, social, and political skills," Arthurs said. "You can make a difference, and I urge you to do so."
A panel discussion later in the week on "Getting Hired" covered interview skills and resume tips. Panelists on that panel included Douglas Chabinsky of BAE Systems; Samhita Dasgupta of GE Global Research; Marisa Edmund of Edmund Optics; and Mark Martella of Ball Aerospace.
Student Web Site Contest
Over the weekend, SPIE also announced the winners of a Web site competition among SPIE Student Chapters.
Stanford University's SPIE Student Chapter took first place in the contest, and the International School of Photonics in India won a second place award.
Honorable mentions went to Wroclaw University of Technology (Poland); the University of Texas at Austin (USA); and the SPIE Student Chapter in Singapore.
In addition to attending conferences, presenting papers, and enjoying the camaraderie of other optical scientists, several erected exhibits to show activities of their SPIE Student Chapters, including the winning Web sites.
Students from Poland, Brussels, Singapore and elsewhere proudly exhibited in the San Diego Convention Center.