One of the most frequently asked questions we get about our Master programme concerns the whereabouts of our graduated students: whatever happened to them? Who are they, what are alumni up to today, was it easy to find a job once graduated?
Said Rodriguez, Scientific Group Leader, at AMOLF Center for Nanophotonics, starts off to share some inspiring insights with you!
Joining the (Erasmus Mundus) Masters in Photonics organised by UGent and Vrije Universiteit Brussel was one of the best decisions he made during his studies:
“The master is a fantastic programme enabling non-Europeans to get a top-quality education in photonics while experiencing European culture.”
When did photonics or light technology appeared as a game changer that made you choose for a master in photonics?
During my Bachelors it became clear that light played a central role in scientific discovery for centuries — think of Newton, Maxwell, Planck, Einstein, and Bohr, to name a few examples. Inspired by these historical developments and the observation of the beautiful phenomenology associated with light-matter interactions, I became eager to learn more about the science of light. I also wanted to travel, to experience different cultures and meet diverse people. Through a generous scholarship and an exceptionally well-organized programme, I could fulfil both of my wishes. This was an opportunity I could not miss!
What part of the programme was your favorite?
There were many aspects of the European Master in Photonics programme I enjoyed. For instance, the accessibility of several professors and the quality of their lectures. Overall, I enjoyed the diversity that the programme offered in many ways, including international environment and teaching methods (options ranging from very hands-on photonic engineering, to physical chemistry and pure maths). I also enjoyed the friendly environment created by the professors and students.
Do you have tips for future students in photonics?
If you can, join! Do not hesitate. It is a great programme, and if I would have to decide again, I would definitely do it again.
In case you join and you really want to make the most out of the program, I strongly recommend you start reading books on optics & photonics the summer before you officially start your studies. Contact your professors or program coordinator ahead of time, and try to get information regarding what they expect you to know by the time the course starts. That way, you can be ready to learn the material they want to teach you (the real stuff!) and you don’t have to spend excessive amounts of time learning material you were supposed to know before you joined.
What are the main future opportunities in optics and photonics to keep a close look at?
It is said that just as the 20th century was the century of electronics, the 21st century will be the century of photonics. There are so many opportunities for people with a strong background in photonics, both in academia and in industry. If you excel in your courses and in your research, opportunities will come to you rather than the other way around. So just focus on learning as much as you can. Try to develop a unique skill set that makes you valuable to the companies or institutes you wish to apply to.
Last but not least: how to prepare for the job market?
His favorite quote to end in beauty…
“Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.”
– Albert Einstein, in “Einstein: His Life and Universe” by Walter Isaacson
Alumni ID kit Said Rodriguez
Scientific Group Leader, at AMOLF Center for Nanophotonics in the Netherlands.
European Master in Photonics (VUB/UGent with Erasmus at KTH)
Bachelor in Engineering Physics (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, USA)