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Thoughts from SPIE Student Chapter Alumni

To mark the 10th Annual Student Chapter Leadership Workshop, SPIE Student Services invited ten SPIE members who were formally involved in student chapters. While not all could make it to San Diego, they all wanted to share something with the ever-growing student chapter community.

Martha Alvarez-Elizondo
University of California, Irvine
Former member of the Tecnológico de Monterrey Student Chapter

"When you do research, the motivation is very important and crucial for your development. You can get motivation from a lot of people, but the most important is that you automotivate to do your research and keep going. Keep automotivation as a habit."

Brent Bergner
Spectrum Scientific, Inc
Former member of the University of North Carolina Charlotte Student Chapter

"While your focus should be on graduating, take advantage of opportunities to develop skills such as leadership, project management, writing and presenting, and proposal preparation. Where possible, become involved with interdisciplinary teams and develop your network, both within the optics community and with other technical and non-technical groups."

Costin Curatu
Alcon Laboratories, Inc
Former member of the University of Central Florida Student Chapter

"The key attributes necesary for a succesful early career in the optics industry:
The significance of being an SPIE leader and the netorking opportunities offered by this society.
The importance of literature/patent search skills and understanding your own contribution to the field.
The difference among peer-reviewed papers vs. conference papers vs. patents.
The importance of working with commercial companies during your grad school years."

Yi-Hsin Lin
National Chiao Tung Unversity
Former member of the University of Central Florida Student Chapter

"As a chapter member, the experience in an SPIE student chapter (such as organizing member activities, organizing student members for helping K-12 students, and inviting scholars for talks, etc.), helped me to be a better leader and to enjoy the community services by contributing my optical professions. In the SPIE Leadership Day in 2005, I learned how to communicate and teach efficiently to others. That really helps me in my career as professorship in Taiwan. I won teaching awards for three years in Taiwan."

Carlos Lopez-Mariscal
Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey
Former member of the Tecnológico de Monterrey Student Chapter

"The initiative of prospective job-seekers plays a very important role in successful employment. Networking, active immersion, and other social skills are key to landing a position that may never get advertised in traditional channels. Unfortunately, these skills are rarely cultivated in the traditional training of scientists and engineers. Having been more proactive in a job search, instead of using the mainstream means, would have eased the process of finding a job after graduate school; making it more enjoyable and less stressful."

Aziz Mahfoud Familia
Saint-Gobain Ceramics & Plastics
Former member of the University of Dayton Student Chapter

"In my professional experience, I've learned that it is important to be comfortable taking risks and developing skills outside of core competencies. The development of products involves the teamwork of many people from different disciplines and therefore we should not be afraid of leaving the comfort of our field (optics) and make the effort to learn other subjects."

Nikolay Makarov
Georgia Institute of Technology
Former member of the Saint-Petersburg State University of Informational Technologies, Mechanics & Optics and Montana State University Student Chapter

"I would emphasize that as a leader, [chapter officers] need to be persistent in recruiting and explaining the benefits of attending meetings and networking with colleagues and potential employers. I also believe that winning grants (even if they are small or just diplomas) is essential for a future career. I had experiences where students refused to attend conferences, even when they had accepted presentations, and did not make efforts to apply for grants because the amount of money was small. And they did not value the recognition of such an award, which would help them in developing their CV. I strongly believe that these are important things to pursue."

Georges Nehmetallah
University of Dayton
Former member of the University of Dayton Student Chapter

"Now I have better connections with industry and academia and that would have helped me to organize better outreach events with other universities and industries. As a prinicipal invistigator of many projects, I have better organization skills and better teamwork and communication skills and that would have helped me while I was a member at UD chapter to have more productive meetings and better communication with my colleagues."

Rosario Porras-Aguilar
Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica y Electrónica
Former member of the INAOE Student Chapter

"I am happy I decided to participate in the chapter but I am still surprised in the changes that triggered in my professional life. I was not aware how fruitful it was to be part of a chapter member in my career. The work in the chapter boosted my self-confidence and improved my communication skills. In essence, these are the major benefits I have gained through my chapter work, which I remember when I look back and celebrate that choice. Therefore, if I were a student, I would not hesitate to get involved in the activities of a student chapter."

Andrea Rosales-Garcia
OFS Labs
Former member of the Boston University Student Chapter

"As a chapter leader, I soon realized the importance of interacting with fellow students; in particular for organizing activities and getting their involvement, participation, and support. That, in the short term, helped me to be more proactive and participative in my own research environment, and gave me the opportunity to have a broader interaction with other research groups. As a working professional, the experience that I gained in the student chapter has helped me in dealing with situations where leadership and organizational skills are indispensable."