Student chapter: Photonics Society Eindhoven

‘We want to show PhD and MSc students the opportunities for a career in photonics and optics.’ That is how Kaylee Hakkel summarizes the mission of the Photonics Society Eindhoven she presides.

The Photonics Society Eindhoven (PhE) was born in 2019 as a PhD student organization to promote professional development, scientific outreach, and academic-industrial liaison around photonics in Eindhoven. It was Alberto Curto from the Photonics and Semiconductor Nanophysics group who initiated its inception, Hakkel tells. ‘Back in Spain, Alberto had been a member of a similar association, which functioned as a satellite of the renowned Optical Society (OSA). He wanted to set up a branch in Eindhoven as well.’

Since 1916, the OSA has been the world’s leading organization for optics and photonics, uniting and educating scientists, engineers, educators, technicians and business leaders worldwide. ‘Recently, our society has also been approved by OSA, which resulted in us receiving funding to organize activities,’ Hakkel says with pride.

Make use of existing networks

The aim is to organize a multitude of activities to show students the possibilities of pursuing a career in photonics or optics, she says. ‘We are considering organizing events like panel discussions, lectures, excursions and recreational activities. The OSA funding enables us to invite internationally renowned speakers in this field to come to Eindhoven and share their vision on the future of the field. And to attract interesting speakers, we will gratefully make use of the network of the different TU/e groups working on photonics.’

“Join us and help us build an active and fruitful community by sharing your ideas for new activities, and helping us organize them.”

Kaylee Hakkel | President

PhE’s first two activities, held before the COVID-19 outbreak, both hit the right note, as far as Hakkel is concerned. During a so-called pizza lecture and a panel discussion, Katarzyna Lawniczuk (Bright Photonics), Aura Higuera (Synopsis), and Jeffrey Lee and Aly Abdou (EFFECT Photonics) told the students about the choices they made during their careers and what they are currently working on. ‘What struck me most, is that all of them emphasized there is more than just “the job” and getting the work done. They sketched a clear picture of all the different choices you have to make, and how you can deal with your expectations. It was especially inspiring to see how everyone has found their own way and is satisfied with it,’ Hakkel says.

After this ambitious start, COVID-19 threw a spanner in the works. PhE is adapting to the present situation and finding the right way forward. ‘Our first aim is to grow in terms of members and activities, starting from the people working on optics and photonics in the departments of Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics. Eventually, we want to become a blossoming organization with a similar structure and function as the study associations at our university.’

For PhD and MSc students working in the field of optics or photonics, Hakkel has a distinct message: ‘Join us and help us build an active and fruitful community by sharing your ideas for new activities, and helping us organize them.’

Interested? Send an email to photonics.society.eindhoven@tue.nl