For graduate students here at the University of Arizona, College of Optical Sciences, and their cohorts around the world, one of the most important reasons to participate in a technical conference is exposure to potential employers.
Contacts made in a conference room, member receptions, or in the exhibition hall are invaluable in finding future jobs. There is no better way to learn about an organization than meeting the staff face to face.
While meeting potential employers is important to students, students are important to employers as well. Industry is very interested in investing in the next generation of scientists and engineers to help ensure that the workforce of the future is well trained and that the industry remains vital.
Through SPIE, companies support, mentor, and encourage outstanding work on the part of students in numerous ways.
• The long-established Newport Spectra-Physics Research Excellence Awards are given to 30 students each year to help cover travel expenses to SPIE Photonics West or SPIE Optics+ Photonics.
• OFS Specialty Photonics, a Furukawa company, contributed to the SPIE Education Fund for student scholarships as part of a social-media campaign.
• Edmund Optics (EO) Asia is working with SPIE to foster strong ties between students and the corporate sector. EO recently announced support for the SPIE Federation of Optics College and University Students (FOCUS) conference in Singapore in July where Amber Czajkowski, coating manager for EO in Singapore, will make a presentation to students. EO is also funding student travel to the conference.
• SCHOTT North America partnered with SPIE to launch a visiting lecturer program last fall and is planning to host an SPIE Student Chapter day at its facility in New York state this fall. (SCHOTT NA vice president and general manager Heather Rayle talks about the company’s commitment to the next generation in a brief SPIE.tv video.)
• The new visiting lecturer programs complement the existing SPIE Visiting Lecturer program, through which established experts from industry, academia, and government donate their time to visit universities around the world and share their knowledge and experience.
• Several dozen companies such as Ocean Optics generously join the Society each year in funding prizes for student best papers that are awarded at SPIE events held annually in Australia, Asia, Europe, and North America. These awards are a source of exposure, recognition, and motivation for students and often a much-needed financial boost.
• At SPIE Photonics West this year, Jenoptik helped fund the Startup Challenge, a competition giving young innovators practice in pitching their business ideas to a panel of venture capitalists and seasoned inventors.
• The Photonics Innovation Village competition hosted by SPIE Photonics Europe and organized by B-PHOT, the Brussels Photonics Team at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, provided students with an opportunity to work directly with industry in developing new photonics-based products. This year’s winners introduced a low-cost LED-based device that improves wound-healing processes by the use of light and a noninvasive device for monitoring blood vessels — advances that will certainly make a difference in quality of life for many.
SPIE is able to provide many opportunities for students, thanks to the support of Society members and other constituents. Last year, SPIE leadership was pleased to work with committees and staff in overseeing an investment of $2.7 million in support of education and outreach programs.
Industry member contributions of time and money for the next generation provide enormous value beyond financial awards and student recognition. SPIE is proud to be associated with these partners and impressed with their commitment to the future of optics and photonics.
New FOCUS on conferences
A new SPIE program, the Federation of Optics College and University Students (FOCUS) Conference Grant, provides SPIE Student Chapter leaders with funds to organize regional leadership workshops.
Student organizers are encouraged to connect with local industry for networking, sponsorship, and career development.
I have been invited by students from the SPIE Singapore Student Chapter to give a talk at the inaugural FOCUS event at the SPIE Asia Student conference to be held 11-13 July in Singapore.
Sponsored by SPIE and the Optics and Photonics Society of Singapore, it was organized by the SPIE Singapore Student Chapter in conjunction with SPIE Student Chapters and Clubs from Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications and Sichuan University in China; Indian Institute of Technology in Madras; Osaka University in Japan; Chulalongkorn University in Thailand; and Multimedia University in Malaysia.
2012 SPIE President
To receive a print copy of SPIE Professional, the SPIE member magazine, become an SPIE member.