UCSB’s student chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Photonics Society won the 2016 “Chapter of the Year” award, selected out of over 80 chapters internationally.

Traditionally, the Photonics Society chapters host seminars with distinguished lecturers from the general IEEE Photonics Society, but this year the student chapter on UCSB’s campus took it one step further by hosting the Year of Light Symposium in October.

The event was part of the 2015 International Year of Light, which was declared by the United Nations to recognize the positive global effects light-based technologies have on sustainability and development.

Photo Courtesy of UCSB IEEE

Photo Courtesy of UCSB IEEE

According to graduate student and chapter president Eric Stanton, the Year of Light Symposium gave attendees the opportunity to hear from Nobel Prize winners and some of the top researchers in the photonics industry.

“[The International Year of Light] lets policymakers know the importance of light so they can fund more research in photonics,” said Stanton.

Large events, such as the group’s second annual luncheon next month, help students network to find potential research positions, future business partners and job prospects. With the help of chapter founder and advising professor John Bowers, the students have also partnered with A.I.M. Photonics, of which Bowers is the Deputy Chief Executive Officer, to bring an additional photonics lecture series to campus.

According to Stanton, UCSB was also recognized because of its community involvement over the past year, especially with Center for Science and Engineering Partnerships (CSEP). One of the associated members of the chapter provided a workshop for local middle schools to teach kids the science behind Jell-O waveguides using lasers.

“Now that our group is getting a little bit more visibility, we can get more sponsorship that can help fund these types of activities,” Stanton said.

In the future, the chapter hopes to increase its community outreach, possibly helping out with next year’s NanoDays, an annual celebration of nanoscale science, as well as other community events.

The second annual UCSB Photonics Society Banquet will be held on Wednesday, May 4. All local photonics researchers at universities or companies are invited to attend. The additional lecture series, brought in part by A.I.M. Photonics, will begin around the end of May.