Light at the end of the tunnel

Despite the fact that 2020 was full of difficulties to keep the spirit of the students, to organise events, and to promote the chapter’s vision, the members of the Student Chapter in Brussels pull together lots of new ideas and initiatives, making these challenging times brighter and opening new possibilities for its members. The Chapter takes a look back at 2020 and looks forward to its transition from SPIE Student Chapter to B-PHOT Student Chapter and the prospective plans for 2021!

“Vrije Universiteit Brussel SPIE Student Chapter is the oldest SPIE Student Chapters of Western Europe, founded in 2006. Through its history, the chapter has gone through many different stages. Many of the events have several years of history within different terms of the Chapter. That being said, 2020 proved to be one of, if not the most challenging year for the chapter. In this year we have focused on motivation and inclusion of all chapter members in the decision making process through building an infrastructure (slack channel for organisation discussions and polls, and WhatsApp channel for general announcements) of networks in which members could participate in organising chapter events and activities in an organised and well-moderated environment.”

“The year started with the annual Photonics Event 2020, a networking event for the master programme which is traditionally co-organised by B-PHOT and SPIE VUB. On March 11th 2020, interactive sessions were organised by 
Lambda-XCommScopeFBGS – all three big players in Optics & Photonics. During these sessions, the students had an opportunity to have an in-depth understanding and hands-on experience with some of the most high-end photonics related industrial products under the supervision of top technicians and scientists from the manufacturing companies.”

“The Chapter also planned on more events focused on non-scientific aspects of academic life, especially through MiniTalk Series, which focused on challenges of being a woman in academia, as well as networking challenges and opportunities that student societies provide for photonics students.”

“We also kept many of the most influential events from the previous terms, although some of them had to be adjusted to be held online, such as the Photo Contest, and Light Night. The Light Night was organised online on the April 23rd 2020. We invited SPIE Visiting Lecturer Prof. James Wyant and Kris Huyck from ABB Benelux. This year our chapter celebrated the International Day of Light virtually on May 16th in Belgium with an event titled, ‘IDeaLight. competition 2020′.”

“With the help and support of our advisors, Prof. Dr. Hugo Thienpont, Prof. Dr. Heidi Ottevaere from B-PHOT Student Chapter, and our mentor, Dr. Tatevik Chalyan, we could come up with a fair system for acknowledging and motivating active student members, by considering VUB PhD Credits (Societal Outreach Category) for PhD students and issuing certificates and honorary awards for master students.”

“We have also founded the Vrije Universiteit Brussels OSA Student Chapter, and renamed our chapter to B-PHOT Student Chapter, which comprises student chapters of two optical societies, SPIE and OSA. We are committed to organise entertaining and engaging activities, aiming at facilitating the troubles of a world pandemic, we are all facing daily.”

“For that, B-PHOT Student Chapter has planned an extended list of activities ranging from educational to socialising and having fun together, and also to become part of the holiday celebrations, such as sending a funny Sinterklaas postal card. This year, we introduced the panel discussion series with the first event titled ‘Photonics Club Panel: featuring PhD students‘ on November 27th, where all members can exchange ideas in a relaxed and informal environment.”

“We are planning to have a panel with alumni of our department to show us how studying or working at B-PHOT impacted their life. We are also planning to introduce a new series of events called ‘Professors tell-all‘ where we can finally quench our curiosity about their life and career. Also our mark events ‘Light Night’ and ‘Photo contest’ will take place, where we all come together to talk about light, enjoy captured beauty of light by the cameras of the very passionate ones, announce the contest winners and award the gifts, as always.”

“The latest developments show light at the end of the tunnel, which gives us hope that soon we would be able to meet and organise activities in person. We are looking forward to the campfire during the summer where the days become longer, and the sun shines brighter; we miss that!”

“Moreover, this year B-PHOT student chapter was awarded with the EDI grant for our activity ‘Queer in Science’. We will become part of the VUB and the city of Brussels celebrations of Pride 2021, acknowledging this way the importance of diversity and inclusion as well as promoting ourselves as an open-minded team. There is so much we are looking forward to so, we invite you to join our excitement! And as always, you can join and follow our events on social media.”

The B-PHOT Student Chapter

The B-PHOT Student Chapter affiliated to the Brussels Photonics Team is a joint chapter of the International Society of Optics and Photonics (SPIE) and the Optical Society (OSA) VUB Student Chapters aiming in promoting the light-based research and technologies for the betterment of the human condition, networking possibilities for the scientists and the students within the optics community. Currently, we have 20 student members, including PhDs and Masters.

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