In less than six months, people everywhere will anxiously await the ball drop or other symbolic event signaling the start of 2015. It seems fitting that the International Year of Light will be ushered in by fireworks and laser light shows from Paris to New York to Sydney. Who knows – there may even be “vodka served as a flash of light” – à la Parks and Recreation – on the menu at a party near you.
But even as the ball begins its slow slide and the band tunes up for “Auld Lang Syne,” the photonics community knows that the clock started ticking on IYL2015 many months before, and that it has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help the rest of the world think differently about something as basic – as everywhere – as light.
“An International Year of Light is a tremendous opportunity to ensure that policy makers are made aware of the problem-solving potential of light technology,” said John Dudley, chairman of the IYL2015 Steering Committee, after the UN General Assembly’s 68th Session proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies. I ran into John at CLEO: 2014 last month in San Jose, and he took the opportunity to underscore that point with me. We’ll hear more from John in an upcoming issue, but in the meantime, you can read a recent 3 Questions interview with him on page 14 of the October 2013 issue of Photonics Spectra.
As the UN and the nations of the world celebrate light in all its forms, the industry has a unique opportunity to focus attention on the world-changing technologies emerging from research labs, moving into clinics, reinventing manufacturing and so much more. How will you and your organization help spread the word in 2015? Send me an email with your IYL2015 plans, and we’ll report on them in future issues.
High on the list of good reasons to tell the world about light-based technologies is to ensure a well-trained workforce for the future. Just ask Judy Donnelly, who has spent the past 16 years teaching college students about lasers and optics, and introducing light to even younger students. She doesn’t know how we’ll build the workforce of tomorrow unless we get more young people interested in photonics/science at an earlier age.
“It’s difficult to see where tomorrow’s photonics workforce will come from if students have never been exposed to the excitement and fun of optics,” Judy said in a 3 Questions interview in this issue. She also curates our Workforce of Tomorrow column, which begins on page 65.
Judy, who recently retired from Three Rivers Community College in Connecticut, will participate in the optics education conference at SPIE’s Optics & Photonics event next month in San Diego. “Problem-Based Learning for Teaching STEM” will be held Tuesday, Aug. 19, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Also at Optics & Photonics, Women in Optics will host an evening of networking and inspiration. On Aug. 18, professor Dr. Ana Maria Cetto of the physics institute at the National Autonomous University of Mexico will present “Light Matters: Museum of Light and the International Year of Light 2015.” The presentation will be followed by a reception, offering the opportunity to meet the speaker and connect with peers.
Oh, and “light refreshments” will be served.