Held in Quebec City from March 5 to 8 2009 at the Center for Optics, Photonics and Lasers (COPL, Laval University), Photonics ToolkiT attracted graduate students in optics from ten universities in Canada and the United States. The collaboration of four student chapters brought this conference to life in Canada’s largest optics photonics university research center. This was an event for students and organized by students. Its main purpose was to offer a variety of practical tools which are usually not included in a university education in this field. For example, several workshops gave tips about job seeking, resumes, interviews, working with specific software and effective oral presentations.
The other main objective for the participants was to promote networking with experts in the field and students from different universities. To encourage this practice, two discussion panels were organised as well as a ‘Cocktail with the Experts.’ Four experts where invited to each panel where discussions took place on topics relative to general considerations and their personal experience. In the first panel, invited professors in optics were asked to talk about university careers. The second panel, which was about starting a company in optics photonics, representatives were invited to talk about the ups and downs of starting a business. It was also possible for the students to ask questions to the speakers. The ‘Cocktail with the Experts,' based on the speed dating concept, was made possible with the help of nine companies in the field. The students were divided into small groups and travelled from one table to another. At each table, company representatives had 8 minutes to talk about the company. The goal of this event was to break the ice between the students and the representatives, after which a buffet was served and open conversations were possible. Other activities included a poster presentation, laboratory visits, presentation of several research centers as well as other networking activities between students, namely, an evening at the ‘Observatoire de la Capitale.'
Finally, this event was made possible thanks to our all our sponsors and invited speakers. The success of this event is very favourable for the holding of a second edition of Photonics ToolkiT in the future.