Penn State and Taiwan student chapters meet to enhance their organizations

August 02, 2016

UNIVERSITY, Pa. – Students from the National Sun Yat-sen University in Taiwan recently traveled to University Park to meet their peers in SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. The two groups shared experiences, discussed membership and compared notes on their mutual area of research: optics.

The two groups met through Joe Chen, an electrical engineering graduate student at Penn State. Chen has worked at the National Sun Yat-sen University before he was recruited to study at Penn State. Chen helped the Taiwanese group set up their SPIE chapter.

According to Chenji Zhang, president of Penn State’s SPIE chapter and an electrical engineering graduate student, SPIE is an important organization for several reasons. The group focuses on interdisciplinary collaboration, researching the science and application of light. He said that its beneficial for people in his field because they offer opportunities for integrative information exchange, continuing education, publications, patent precedent, and career and professional growth. SPIE offers scholarships to graduate and undergraduate students that can be used for research tools and professional development events. The Penn State chapter invites guest lecturers to discuss their research, organizes industry tours to manufacturers working in optics and plans local outreach events.

Cheng-Chang Li, a student representative from the Taiwan group, spoke about the outreach events their chapter has already organized, in the six months that they’ve been a group. They held an optics summer camp for kids and took local students to a science museum to show them how much fun optics research can be, using 3D glasses and light sabers.

Li said the outreach is important to him because when he was in high school someone introduced him to photonics and it changed his life. He’s now a second year doctoral candidate in the field.

While it was nice to socialize with their peers from Taiwan, Zhang said the visit was also productive.

“Both of our student chapters have organized outreach events before, yet how we organize, prepare and run these activities can be different. As such, we wanted to exchange ideas about how to more effectively organize outreach programs given our different experiences,” said Zhang. “Also, as a student chapter with a history of more than 10 years, we will be able to share how our organization has grown in the past and how we help our members bond.”

The group from Taiwan arrived in the United States a week before coming to University Park—they flew into New York City and were able to check out the city before traveling west to Penn State. They will continue their tour of the U.S. when they travel to Kent for an International Liquid Crystal Conference.

Last Updated August 02, 2016