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    Fall is Student Conference Season

    Is it the changing leaves or the extra chill in the air? Maybe it is the enthusiasm generated by the International Year of Light? Whatever the cause, the next 4 months are packed with student-organized conferences in locations around the world. Focusing on professional skills, career development, and networking, these student conferences tend to have a more relaxed atmosphere where speakers can try new ideas. Many conferences also provide a way to make contacts in industry, which is important for future career moves like internships.


    What: IONS/FOCUS Tunisia

    Where: Carthage, Tunisia

    When: 2-5 September, 2015

    Why you should go: In spite of the turmoil in their country, the students of the Tunisis Chapter have maintained a positive view on their future. Expect their conference to be full of lively discussion and networking with people who know their way around waveguides, networks, and telecommunications. With professional development training related primarily to publishing, this is a conference oriented toward academia.


    WhatBiological and Biomedical Engineering Symposium - SPIE FOCUS Conference

    Where: McGill University, Montreal, Canada

    When: 25-27 September, 2015

    Why you should go: Lead organizer Kate Clancy wrote that this conference is an answer to difficulty in uniting students in the fields of medical optics, imaging, signal processing, biomaterial, and biosensor fields in one event. "Poster sessions, a 3-minute thesis competition, lectures, and networking events are the flavor of this weekend. Come prepared to improve your presentation and networking skills, while meeting your engineering peers. Whether you are looking for new opportunities, meeting new people, or discussing groundbreaking science, this is an event not to miss!" Kate and Sebastien are looking forward to welcoming you to beautiful Montreal.

    To read more about this conference, winner of a SPIE FOCUS grant for 2015, see her article "Students taking professional Development into their own hands."



    What: Optics and its Applications - SPIE FOCUS Conference

    Where: Yerevan and Asktarak, Armenia

    When: 1-5 October, 2015

    Why you should go: If you think it might be odd to go to Armenia for optics, you haven't been paying attention to the incredible event building powers of the Yerevan State University's SPIE Student Chapter. Over the years, this conference has grown through partnerships and good relationships with high level researchers across Europe. The speakers list is impressive and travel grants from the International Center for Theoretical Physics may make it possible for you to get there. Make it long trip by attending the International Conference on Laser Physics 6-9 October in Ashtarak.


    What: Optics 2015

    Where: St. Petersburg, Russian Federation

    When: 12-16 October, 2015

    Why you should go: The ITMO University is an optics powerhouse and their biannual conference serves to bring together students, student chapter officers, with a diverse group researchers and industry professionals. This is the first time I have seen representatives from the Russian optics industry take part significantly in a student conference. Brief overviews from company representative will lead to discussions of open positions and skills needed, with plenty of time for networking between students and representatives. In addition to the industry networking, this is a prime event for Student Chapters to make contacts with each other. If you will be looking for a job or postdoc position, this should be a good meeting.


    What: KOALA 2015

    Where: Auckland, NZ

    When: 23-27 November, 2015

    Why you should go: Returning to Auckland after several years in Australia, the long-running KOALA conference gives a chance for the kiwi parts of KOALA to shine. The University of Otago SPIE student chapter is partnering with groups in Auckland - particularly the Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies - for an engaging multi-day conference. The KOALA organizers know how to organize effective and interactive poster sessions, discussions, and student talks. Auckland and the Southern Hemisphere is the place to be in November.


    What: Asian CORE Student Meeting

    Where: Osaka, Japan

    When: 8-9 December, 2015

    Why you should go: Discussion and networking at conferences in Asia typically does not extend well to students. High level people don't engage easily with much younger people. Not so at the Osaka University Student Chapter, as students, professors, and industry members discuss experiences navigating the academic and industry pathways. This conference is still in the building stages, but the Osaka chapters is experienced as a previous FOCUS grant winner. Expect to discuss ideas, interact in unique ways, and have excellent sushi at this conference.