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Societies showcase career opportunities in optics and photonics

16 May 2022

Blockbuster-style 'movie trailer' for International Day of Light intended to help address skills shortage in the industry.

SPIE, Optica, and the IEEE Photonics Society - three professional societies representing thousands of researchers and engineers in optics and photonics - have collaborated to produce a blockbuster-style “movie trailer” that they hope will attract more people to work in the industry.

Released to coincide with this year’s International Day of Light on May 16, the three-minute, action-themed video portrays characters aiming to solve complex, global problems with the aid of photonics-enabled technologies.

Under the banner “Our future is light. Play your part”, the film promotes the importance of light-based technologies and careers in optics and photonics - highlighting applications in healthcare, communications, Earth and space observation, and fighting climate change.

Career inspiration
Inspired by the 2010 science-fiction thriller Inception, the trailer features a character called Dawn. Described as an “optical-engineer action hero”, Dawn urges other characters to use photonics technology to solve problems like dirty energy and polluted water.

Holding a prism, Dawn declares: “This is where the answers lie. You just have to know how to use the light.”

According to the three optics and photonics societies, the trailer issues a lively invitation to real-life future scientists, technicians, engineers, and industry leaders to consider a career in photonics.

In conjunction with the video’s release, the related website includes an overview of the technologies mentioned in the film. Depicting optical engineers, laser technicians, and academic researchers, it also features a selection of downloadable resources for education and careers advice.

Optica’s CEO Elizabeth Rogan said: “Many of the devices we use every day comprise light-based technologies made possible by the optics and photonics community.

“On the International Day of Light, we celebrate these contributions from our community and hope this celebration inspires others - particularly students - to study and work in light science and technology.”

SPIE’s CEO Kent Rochford added: “The International Day of Light is the perfect time to highlight the many varied and exciting career opportunities in optics and photonics.

“Light-based technologies are providing much-needed solutions to some of our biggest global challenges and will continue to do so. This is a terrific time to be considering a career in the industry and we hope this year’s IDL campaign will reach and inspire future scientists, engineers, and technicians.”

Day of Light: the movie

Day of Light: the movie

IDL events
Organized each year on May 16, the UNESCO-ratified International Day of Light was created as a follow-up to the International Year of Light in 2015.

The date is significant in itself, marking the anniversary of the first successful operation of a laser by Theodore Maiman in 1960.

“The laser is a perfect example of how a scientific discovery can yield revolutionary benefits to society in communications, healthcare, and many other fields,” state the organizers.

This year’s celebrations include dozens of events taking place around the world, from a photonics jobs fair at Warsaw University of Technology in Poland, to an exhibition of optical instruments in Medellin, Colombia.

optics.org publisher SPIE is also hosting its traditional photo contest, held annually to raise awareness about the International Day of Light, and to demonstrate the impact light has on cultural, economic, and political aspects of society.

The theme of this year’s photo contest is “A World of Light: The Vital Role That Light and Light-Based Technologies Play in Daily Life”. Examples can include the properties of light, light technology, light images, people interacting with light, light and sustainable development, and more.

IEEE Photonics Society executive director Doug Razzano said: “Each International Day of Light, we celebrate the long and rich history of optics and photonics that has brought so much to our everyday lives.

“By continuing to advance light science and make known to the world the importance of the technologies derived from it, we will help to grow and support this vibrant technical community.”

• For more details about this year’s International Day of Light and associated events, visit the official web site.

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