The 7th Annual Student Chapter Leadership Workshop signaled the start of Optics + Photonics early Saturday morning when 130 students from around the world gathered to share ideas, form relationships, and eat tiny pastries. The morning was lively as students were quickly divided into groups for a few short games to initiate communication and release anxieties.
As the morning activities continued, the focus shifted to student chapter organization and maintenance. Dirk Fabian gave a short presentation on motivation which acted as a catalyst for subsequent roundtable discussions. Students exchanged ideas about how to motivate colleagues at their respective universities to participate in outreach and professional development activities. It was a valuable time for students to learn about successful strategies in maintaining an active student chapter.
Download the Motivation presentation
After a casual lunch by the pool, students welcomed Sanjay Krishna, associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of New Mexico (USA). Sanjay presented a talk tracing his own journey from the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras) to his current faculty position. Krishna, who received the SPIE Early Career Achievement Award earlier this year, offered several important lessons to illustrate his journey.
Returning to chapter business, Jason Hamman presented a few slides outlining the "ideal chapter." His thoughts on how to get the most out of your chapter led into a second cycle of roundtable discussions in which students shared ideas on various chapter issues including:
- Outreach Activities
- Recruiting New Members
- Energizing Chapter Members
- Industry Relations
- Managing Chapter Money
- Involving Undergrads
- Department / Advisor Relations & Department Politics
- Inter-Chapter Collaboration
Download the Ideal Chapter presentation
Events on Sunday began with a panel discussion on career choices. It featured professionals from academia, industry, and government who gave valuable insight into careers in optics/photonics. The panel was followed by two distinct tracks of break-out sessions which allowed for small group interaction among the students. The sessions focused on Professional Development Skills and Science Education. The speakers, and their talks, are as follows:
A new addition to the Leadership Workshop this year was the introduction of the Unconference; an un-planned block of time to be filled with short student presentations. The theme for the session was "Education and Outreach in Optics." On Saturday, students were given the opportunity to suggest presentation ideas for the Unconference and volunteer to present on these topics. The conference itself took place Sunday as part of the break-out sessions. It was a popular success in which 5 students gave concise talks on a variety of topics - from explanations of a demonstration kit protype to observations made teaching optics to very young students. A quick view of the optics demonstrations built and used by the University of Central Florida's chapter was presented by Florian Fournier.
With so many students from so many places, it can be quite a challenge to offer relevant and important information for everyone. Student Services is constantly searching for ways to adjust the conference schedule in order to better facilitate quality interactions. Each year, students are encouraged to fill out a survey on the Leadership Workshop which aids the staff in planning an even better event the following year. Look for yours in your email inbox very soon!