While many college and university students are beginning to wrap up their long summer breaks spent relaxing at the beach, hiking the mountains, or even touring overseas, seven dedicated PhD, graduate and undergraduate students from SUNY Poly, RPI, University of Rochester, Siena College, and WPI were all busy catching their collective breath last week as they completed their summer internships at AIM Photonics.
After spending 12 weeks this summer working in Albany, New York on advanced technologies that support the U.S. integrated photonics manufacturing ecosystem, the AIM Photonics interns proudly shared their research results with fellow students, mentors, engineers, faculty members from SUNY Poly and the University at Albany, as well as semiconductor industry professionals during a poster session held at the Albany Nanotech Complex on Friday, August 4.
“Our internships are designed to bring undergraduates and graduate students in to work directly with our engineering teams, both at our fabrication facility in Albany as well as our packaging facility in Rochester,” said Dr. Robert Geer, director of Education and Workforce Development at AIM Photonics. “It provides them with an opportunity to access world-class technology and work in some of the most exciting programs going on with integrated photonics today.”
The internship program at AIM Photonics has grown significantly under the direction of Geer, who took it over two years ago. Participation in the program grew from four student interns in 2022 to seven in 2023, with two more co-op students in Rochester who will complete their 6-month programs at the end of the calendar year.
“We’ve really focused on engaging students with a strong foundation in photonics and electronics, especially U.S. citizens and permanent residents that can support the U.S. Department of Defense industrial base,” said Geer. “For us, that has meant working hand-in-hand with our university and college partners to identify promising candidates.”
That approach has paid off. Geer added that AIM Photonics engineers have been very impressed with the quality of the students and their ability to hit the ground running. “And the students have been excited that they can apply their classroom experience to real-world technology development,” he said.
AIM Photonics internship program gives students a chance not only to work with some of the leading engineers in photonics technology, but also see exactly what those career paths are going to look like.
Internships usually last between 10-12 weeks. That time frame usually determines the nature and scope of the projects that are assigned to the interns.
“Our projects are focused on what is critical to AIM Photonics. This is essential. It guarantees that students are engaged in projects that are not only relevant, but important,” Geer said.
Likewise, he added, the engineers—who also serve as mentors—are also careful to select projects that can mature over the course of an internship, so that the interns are able to see the impact of their work during their time at AIM Photonics.
“In terms of mentorship, I cannot say enough about our engineers and scientists,” Geer said. “So many have stepped up. On a day-to-day basis they really bring our interns into the thought processes of a technology development team.”
“And for any experiential learning program, that is where mentors are critically important – not just telling an intern what to do, but helping them to understand why they are doing it,” Geer added.