I’m a grade 11 student very interested in photonics. Can you suggest some colleges?

A relatively new subject, photonics is the science of light and deals with the technology of generating controlling and understanding light waves and photons that are particles of light. Unaware to most of us, photonics is present in our daily lives from smart phones, laptops, internet and medical instruments to manufacturing instruments (laser cutting) and security apparatus (infrared cameras). This century will be intricately engaged with photonics to the same extent as the 20th century depended on electronics.

Despite the growth in the industry, finding qualified people remains a challenge as it is an interdisciplinary field involving physics, chemistry and electrical engineering. At school, students need to study science and math subjects including physics, calculus and trigonometry. For electives they should study computer science and other computer related subjects. It is said that the choice of university is extremely critical in forming a photonic engineer. Universities like CREOL (College of Optics & Photonics at the University of Central Florida) or École Polytechnique have been at the forefront. University of Arizona, University of Rochester which was started at the behest of Kodak are other names which offer excellent courses in photonics.

More than half of UK’s research in Photonics is generated by a handful of Scottish Universities with Heriot Watt and St. Andrews taking the lead. Being a young, evolving subject, photonic engineers need to keep abreast of new inventions and products by attending conferences, workshop and reading journals.

Sanjeev Verma is an international education counsellor