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SPIE and University of Manchester announce $1 million endowment

30 Jan 2024

SPIE-Manchester Postgraduate Scholarship in Photonics to support early-career and returning researchers at Photon Science Institute.

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, and The University of Manchester, UK, have announced the establishment of the SPIE-Manchester Postgraduate Scholarship in Photonics, at the opening of SPIE Photonics West in San Francisco.

The $500,000 gift from SPIE will be matched 100% by the University. Part of the SPIE Endowment Matching Program, this new endowment will support both early-career researchers and returning researchers at the University’s Photon Science Institute in partnership with the Royce Institute, the UK’s national institute for advanced materials research and innovation.

This is the 11th major SPIE gift to universities and institutes as part of the Society's ongoing program to support the expansion of optical engineering teaching and research.

Increasing diversity

With a goal of increasing diversity in optics and photonics, the SPIE-Manchester Postgraduate Scholarship will have a particular focus on funding individuals returning to research following a career break or time in industry, and those pursuing unconventional career pathways or part-time study (situations often necessitated by caring responsibilities, for example) .

Aligning current research and industrial needs for a robust training pipeline, an additional unique feature of the scholarship is an optional final-year placement of up to 12 months, during which students can develop industry-relevant skills in collaboration with local optics and photonics companies.

“Today marks just the beginning of the partnership between The University of Manchester and SPIE,” noted Department Head of Research for Physics and Astronomy at The University of Manchester Dr. Patrick Parkinson.

“The establishment of the SPIE-Manchester Postgraduate Scholarship in Photonics is a testament to our shared values within skills training, fostering diversity in education and the vital role of photonics.

“This announcement holds special significance as it coincides with the University’s bicentenary year. We take great pride in using this generous donation to not only advance research and education but also to solidify our existing partnerships and forge new industrial collaborations to deliver a doctoral training program that will ensure a sustainable workforce for the North West of England.”

SPIE CEO Kent Rochford commented, “Our expanding field needs researchers and engineers, though for some who might be interested in a photonics career, traditional educational paths are barriers to their success.”

“The SPIE-Manchester Postgraduate Scholarship in Photonics aims to remove those barriers and provide exciting opportunities for early-career researchers and those who may be pursuing unconventional career paths,” he said.

“Working internally at the university’s Photon Science Institute with the option of an industry-focused placement, promises to benefit young researchers as well as our future diverse workforce. I very much look forward to meeting the leaders in optics and photonics technologies who will emerge from this dynamic partnership between SPIE and The University of Manchester.”

The SPIE Endowment Matching Program was established in 2019 to increase international capacity in the teaching and research of optics and photonics. With this latest gift, SPIE has provided over $4 million in matching gifts, resulting in more than $11 million in dedicated funds.

The SPIE Endowment Matching Program supports optics and photonics education and the future of the industry by contributing a match of up to $500,000 per award to college, institute, and university programs with optics and photonics degrees, or with other disciplines allied to the SPIE mission.

© 2024 SPIE Europe
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