Author Archives: Sophie Messens

BySophie Messens

5 reasons to come to LIGHT NIGHT 2017 

Everyone is so busy, has so little time and then there is LIGHT NIGHT crossing your path.

SPIE Student Chapter went out of their way to give this edition a special touch celebrating their 10th anniversary.  A few months before LIGHT NIGHT, SPIE Student Chapter Brussels and B-PHOT gathered to answer questions on what inspires students and professionals in high-tech and engineering nowadays.  A specific topic involved future challenges, what is happening in photonics land and how to tackle them through the right education?

A good start, but let’s share 5 good reasons to join us on Thursday 27 April at Vrije Universiteit Brussel!

  1. Strong programme and strong speakers

For this 10th anniversary, the man who introduced the first Master in Photonics on the European mainland and is leading VUB B-PHOT photonics team, will give us a snapshot on Photonics 2050. What global opportunities lay ahead of any of us and how can the science and technology of light tackle societal challenges? According to Prof. Dr. Ir. Hugo Thienpont.

We also proudly present international speakers that you won’t see in just another event. Dr. Marc Himel, Business Developer from Jenoptik Optical Systems is giving a pertinent overview how light can play a leading role for a better world.

Mixed Reality (MR) succeeding Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) scored high on the list of interests. No surprise as headsets are common for anyone who is slightly aware of gaming. But what about industry applications, how can optics and photonics improve the effective use of headsets? Partner Optical Architect at Microsoft Corp., Dr. Bernard Kress will introduce us to the importance of human-centric optical design for next-generation MR headsets.

Local top talent has been invited to tell compelling stories that bundle the impact of education in photonics on their lives. Former presidents of the SPIE Student Chapter, now professionals in many domains, including a few professors at the VUB, have 4 minutes each to testify. How did they survive their European Master in Photonics? Any fun memories with SPIE Student Chapter? A cozy gathering of the actual and former presidents.

  1. It’s simply a nice event, somewhat unique in Belgium

Students, alumni, professors and professionals are gathering for an update of the newest opportunities that photonics and optics offer.  And obviously to keep in touch with colleagues. Need to recover from inspiring talks? Unwind during the network reception, refreshing drinks and light food.  Maybe you might be one of the happy few winning the contest for a mind-blowing demo with Microsoft Hololens?

  1. Code red, time to wake up!

Photonics is recognized as key-enabling technology by the European Commission. It is time to anticipate on future opportunities for high-tech engineers and companies.  We hope LIGHT NIGHT will give more insights, perspectives and motivation to be(come) part of the growing photonics community worldwide.

  1. Networking, the real deal

Join in with many and we will have a colorful mix of students, consultants, engineers, professors, entrepreneurs and more. Next to a strong programme, the total experience is as important. Meet and greet, plenty of opportunity to have one-on-ones with the speakers and participants. No formal dates or high-tech apps, just old fashioned gathering. For some a throw-back in time on the campus.

  1. It’s for free!

Seriously, international and national top talent, game-changing topics, nice food & drinks and enchanting people. For no money, what can we say?

We love photonics, we should have mentioned this at the beginning.

So, cancel any other date, and register right here  for LIGHT NIGHT 2017!

We hope to see you on Thursday 27 April,

welcome as from 18:00.


Here you can also find all details of the programme, or visit SPIE Student Chapter VUB on Facebook


BySophie Messens

VUB SPIE Student Chapter visits ETAP and Philips Museum during photonics industry day

To get a closer look at what industrial photonics looks like, the SPIE Student Chapter at VUB took its members for a company visit to ETAP Lighting in Antwerp (BE) and a tour in the Philips Museum in Eindhoven (NL).

etap-1 At ETAP the students were welcomed by Christ’l Joris, the President of the Board of Directors. Inspiring talks demonstrated the road from concept to product, potential challenges on the way, and the possibilities the future might have to offer.


The design of LED luminaires is a clear example of how their study of optical design courses is implemented in industry. The fact that a lamp can be more than just a source of photons, was explained during an intriguing talk about smart lighting, LiFi and its connection to the Internet of Things.

A guided visit to the production halls showed that ETAP is a top quality fully-fledged lighting company. During a refreshing lunch kindly offered by ETAP, the students had the opportunity to talk about photonics industry with Pascal De Langhe, CEO at ETAP.

In the afternoon, the students were thrown back in the 125 years of Philips history during a guided museum visit. A former Philips employee presented the innovations bringing incandescent lighting towards the current LED technology, with insider anecdotes about the life at Philips.

philips-2 Next to the rich overview of history, the awarded museum also offered an interactive experience about ‘Innovation and You’: “How can a doctor give an accurate digitized diagnose to improve treatments?”, “How do high-tech networks increase safety in the streets?”, and much more…

The visits were a great success, giving the students a taste of ways to effectively use their academically obtained skills to participate in designing the future of lighting.

©Sidney Goossens, President of SPIE Student Chapter Brussels


BySophie Messens

VUB offers 5 scholarships for talented students in photonics

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel makes 5 full scholarships available for international students who start the European Master of Science in Photonics in the academic year 2017-2018. The scholarships are assigned to highly qualified applicants on basis of excellence and include a stipend of 800 EUR per month.

Photonics is regarded as a Key Enabling Technology by experts from industry and science, and by the European Commission. To support global societal challenges in domains such as health care, telecommunications, IoT, biotechnology, aerospace, green energy and Industry 4.0, there is an urgent need to enhance talents of young engineers with knowledge and practical skills in photonics and turn them into tomorrow’s engineers.

The financial support offered by VUB can help young potentials to graduate in our multidisciplinary master with a challenging engineering programme including skills development like laser engineering, optical communication technology, optical materials, sensors and micro-, nano- and bio-photonics as well as entrepreneurship.

Once the final admissions to the programme are announced by 20 March, the 10 highest ranked students who enroll at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel for the European Master of Science in Photonics will be invited to show proof of their knowledge and motivation during a separate interview. The assignment of the scholarships for non-EER students will be announced by 31 March 2017 by the VUB Program Board of the curriculum.

More information about admission, application and the application form can be found on this website. The deadline for applications is 5 February 2017.

BySophie Messens

Students evaluate their European Master in Photonics

To continuously optimize the quality of education while maintaining a high student satisfaction level at VUB, students of the European Master of Science in Photonics were queried through a written survey and a focus discussion organized by the Education and Student Policy Department of VUB.

This student evaluation aims at providing a better impression on how they experience various elements of the educational programme such as the course content and teaching methods, the quality of the hands-on labs, the preferences with exchange programmes like Erasmus, and the interaction with industry.

The students are particularly satisfied: 90% of them would recommend our Master in Photonics programme to future students.

The evaluation indicates that students are highly satisfied with:

  • the expertise of the professors and their easy accessibility
  • the great opportunities for international mobility with photonics partners abroad
  • the course material in line with the lectures
  • the considerable attention to soft skills and entrepreneurship
  • the very strong cooperation with industry through internships and company visits.

The students also have further wishes to optimize the curriculum through:

  • an even higher percentage training labs to practice their knowledge
  • more frequent lectures on the latest research developments and trends in photonics
  • opportunities to evaluate their newly acquired skills and knowledge through self-tests.

Opinions among students are divided as to make internships compulsory or to keep them elective.

Prof. Heidi Ottevaere and her colleagues are currently already implementing the first concrete student recommendations at VUB. “We are very grateful to our students for the valuable feedback. In particular we appreciate that our international students have indicated that examination methods can differ from the ones they are used to,” says Prof. Ottevaere. “We have therefore organized a test exam for the photonics course, to make our new students acquainted with our examination system already at an early stage. This will certainly contribute to their success rate and make them quickly feel at home.”

BySophie Messens


Three days packed with master thesis presentations, guest lectures from industry and academia, insightful perspectives and networking with peers.

This must be the annual Photonics Summer Symposium!

Before graduation, Master Students in Photonics get the opportunity to present their Master Thesis. A valuable exercise to give a concise overview of a full semester Photonics project for fellow students within a strict timeframe.

The program of the Photonic Summer Symposium at VUB included following presentations:

  • Jorn Jacobs “Lamb wave inspection of composite material with fiber Bragg grating-based sensors”
  • Jael Pauwels “Speckle contrast reduction in laser projection systems based on micro-structured screens”
  • Brian Verspecht “Optical waveguide dispersion measurements based on all fiber methods”
  • Jonas Jacobs “Die Level Release Silicon Photonic MEMS fabricated in Imec iSIPP25G Platform”
  • Sahitya Janardhan “Use of current-assisted photo-diodes for making a photospectrometer in 350nm CMOS”
  • Gobinath Jegannathan “High speed VCSEL driver 350nm CMOS”

The first day was closed with an interesting talk from an invited expert, dr. ir. Bram Van Hoe (FBGS), who told us more about “High-strength fiber Bragg gratings: from basic measurement concepts to shaping sensing applications.

The symposium ended with the Graduation Ceremony.

Brian Verspecht received also the Award for the Best Thesis Presentation, and the active participation of Jael Pauwels was awarded with a special mention as most active student during Q&A sessions.