Optics + Photonics 2014

Several weeks ago, I attended SPIE’s Optics +Photonics 2014 conference in San Diego, CA. My primary purpose for attending was to take part in the Student Leadership Conference for student chapter officers. I was recently elected as the Vice President for the Student Optics Chapter, so this was an appropriate event to prepare me for my greater leadership role this year.

The SOCk officers present at Optics + Photonics, from left to right: Soha Namnabat, Outreach Co-chair this year (CIAN student); myself; Dawson Baker,  our president for SOCk this year; Dale Karas, last year's president.

The SOCk officers present at Optics + Photonics, from left to right: Soha Namnabat, Outreach Co-chair this year (CIAN student); myself; Dawson Baker, our president for SOCk this year; Dale Karas, last year’s president.

After the Student Chapter Leadership Workshop on Saturday, the main conference began. In addition to the technical presentations, there continued to be student development workshops, as well as fun events. One of my favorite events from the conference was the Optics Outreach Games. Student chapters could bring an outreach demonstration of theirs to the conference and compete with other chapters for awards from judges and from participants. We brought our Schlieren imaging system to the competition. Schlieren imaging is a way to visualize pressure changes by seeing the minute changes in the refractive index of air caused by these changes in pressure. We’ve used this demo many times at the college, such as at Laser Fun Day this year.

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Soha and I aligning the system before the competition began.

We got to use the projector that had already been set up for the event to show the resulting image on a large screen.

You can see the effect of the heat from the lighter warming up the air, causing the air to move around, causing slight pressure changes that the system allows to be visualized.

You can see the effect of the heat from the lighter warming up the air, causing the air to move around, causing slight pressure changes that the system allows to be visualized.

The Optics Outreach games were a great event. When we weren’t talking about our own demonstration, we got to see other chapter’s demonstrations. I picked up some neat outreach ideas for our chapter to use. As always, these student events had people from all around the world, which made for great networking opportunities. At the end of the event, the winners were announced, and we had won the people’s choice award!

Receiving the People's Choice award from Dr. Phillip Stahl, the SPIE president. (Photo credit Nikolay Makarov)

Receiving the People’s Choice award from Dr. Phillip Stahl, the SPIE president. (Photo credit Nikolay Makarov)

We also showed a poster summarizing our chapter and what we had done in the previous year at the Student Chapter Poster Mixer. We shared ideas and stories with well established chapters and brand new chapters from all around the world. In addition, we took shifts covering the exhibit for the College of Optical Sciences, talking to potential students and industry partners.

Myself by the SOCk poster

Myself by the SOCk poster

The conference was a great experience, and I certainly enjoyed myself. San Diego, of course, is always a pleasant place to be, and this trip was no exception. Since I was carrying SOCk’s camera around, I got to take lots of great pictures of the events and downtown San Diego. Hopefully, some of the contacts we made among the various student chapters will reconnect with us so we can continue to share ideas regarding student events and outreach efforts.

Cropped Ben face

BENJAMIN CROMEY – UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT, UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA

Benjamin Cromey is pursuing his Bachelors in Optical Sciences and Engineering at the University of Arizona. As a member of the Optics Ambassadors and the Vice President for the Student Optics Chapter, optics outreach is one of his passions. He participated in the 2012 IOU program with CIAN and has been working with 3D Holographic displays ever since.

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