How to attract young talent in Photonics?

June 13, 2024 - Elisenda Lara

To address the shortage of talent in photonics, we need to start engaging young students and encouraging them to pursue careers in physics. However, this activity has a low return on investment and few are willing to work in this direction.

In the last HR Workgroup we had a highly productive discussion on how to engage young talent in photonics. The session was packed with insightful presentations and innovative ideas aimed at inspiring the next generation of photonics enthusiasts.

Thorlabs Mobile Lab: Bringing Photonics to Schools

Screenshot of the attendees to the HR Workgroup with a focus on attracting young talent in Photonics. We can see representatives from EPIC Membrs like Diehl Defence, SMARt Photonics, OptoNet, Cailabs, Innolume, LIGENTEC, Ligtium or Axetris

Bill Warger kicked off the discussion by introducing the “Thorlabs Mobile Lab,” an initiative that brings photonics technology directly to high schools and universities. This mobile lab allows students to interact with cutting-edge technology and witness experiments firsthand.

It’s truly impressive to see a private company dedicating resources to such a valuable advocacy activity. Kudos to Thorlabs for this fantastic initiative to attract young talent in Photonics.

Picture of the team working on the Mobile Photonics Lab Experience, the initiative that aims to attract young talent in Photonics

Photonics Bretagne’s Internship Program: A Head Start for Young Students

Photonics Bretagne is a cluster of companies and research centers, but also a Research & Technology Center. That's why education is at their core.

Gwenaëlle Lefeuvre then introduced us to the photonics internship program for high school students organized by Photonics Bretagne , in collaboration with CMQe Numérique, Photonique & Cybersécurité. This one-week training internship is designed for 13-14-year-old students, providing them with an early introduction to photonics just before they begin high school. The program includes visits to leading companies like Idil Fibres Optiques, KERDRY, LUMIBIRD, and Photonics Bretagne. This initiative is a fantastic way to spark interest in photonics at a young age.

Photonics Bretagne organises internships for 13 year old students with the aim to attract young talent in Photonics

EPIC’s Initiatives: Connecting with Young Audiences

Finally, the EPIC staff shared some of the exciting activities that we are spearheading to engage with young audiences. These include the Career Booth at the ECOC Exhibition, the ECOC Booth Tour for young talent and the “Photonics is EPIC” initiative. The latter features an online informative session aimed at university students and the creation of the TikTok profile photonicsisepic to reach a broader and younger audience. These efforts are designed to attract young talent in Photonics and make this field of expertise more accessible and appealing to students, ensuring a bright future for the field.