Attracting top new talent is a prime concern for optics and photonics facilities virtually everywhere, SPIE volunteers and staff have learned in an ongoing series of visits with industry and institutes around the globe. Companies also tell visitors about the need for a variety of networking opportunities that connect them with new partners and customers, as new centers of activity grow and technologies advance.
SPIE President-Elect María Yzuel met with Philippe Réfrégier, professor of the Ecole Central de Marseille, during a visit to Institut Fresnel Marseille earlier this year.
SPIE's leadership suited up when they paid a visit to Physik Instrumente in Karlsruhe, Germany, in April.
Just like their hosts, SPIE leaders traveling the globe are industry professionals, professors training the next-generation workforce, and lab scientists and directors drawing workers from the same pool. They have traveled the world over the past months to hear firsthand about issues and interests. Along with concerns, they have heard how organizations are collaborating and about strategies for training the upcoming workforce and for advancing optics and photonics.
Industry representatives in Asia, Europe, and North America all told SPIE visitors that even companies with strong brands find it increasingly difficult to find new optical designers and manufacturing engineers with strong skills. And once they have successfully hired capable talent, employers are concerned that other organizations will recruit staff away. In some areas, employers see overall quality of job applicants going down.
To meet workforce issues, there are a number of new and expanded training programs in technology. For example, collaboration between industry and academia in Ireland has resulted in substantive industry-sponsored PhDs in photonics and postdoctoral students in several areas. In Wales, OpTIC Technium has created a Photonics Academy (See page 28), and the Institut d'Optique Graduate School in France maintains a close connection with the needs of industry through required student internships and a new "Innovation-Entrepreneur" curriculum that reinforces the pragmatic thrust of the Institut.
Among the visits made by SPIE leadership this year:
- In July, SPIE President Kevin Harding visited Qioptiq in Singapore, and in June, SPIE President-Elect María Yzuel visited Institut Catala de Nanotecnologia and Centro Nacional de Microelectronica in Spain with past SPIE President M.J. Soileau. Yzuel also visited Laboratoire d'Astrophysique and Institut Fresnel Marseille in France.
- In May, Yzuel and Board member Marta de la Fuente visited the European Space Astronomy Center (ESAC) in Villanueva de la Cañada, near Madrid, Spain.
- In Germany in April, Harding, Yzuel, Immediate Past President Brian Culshaw, Treasurer Brian Lula, Vice President Ralph James, Symposium Committee Chair John Pellegrino, and Board members Hugo Thienpont, Werner Jüptner, and Giancarlo Righini toured several facilities, including Friedrich-Schiller Universität Jena and JenOptik in Jena, Schott Glass facilities in Mainz and Jena, Leica Camera in Solms, Physik Instrumente in Karlsruhe, and Trumpf in Ditzengen.
- In the USA in April, SPIE Past President Paul McManamon visited Raytheon Missile Systems and Breault Research Corp. in Arizona, and SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs visited Zygo Corp. in Connecticut.
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