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PhotonDelta and Optics Netherlands launch new “MasterPlus” programme

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With three Dutch technical universities offering new specialist courses in optics and photonics, the initiative aims to be a talent pipeline for the Netherlands’ growing optics and photonics ecosystem

PhotonDelta and Optics Netherlands have announced a new “MasterPlus” Programme in Optics and Photonics (MPOP), which they say is the first initiative of its kind. The organisations are running the programme in partnership with three leading technology universities in the Netherlands: Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), and University of Twente (UT).

According to PhotonDelta, the programme will be a talent pipeline for the optics and photonics industry, which makes a significant contribution to the Dutch economy and has a strong annual growth rate. By integrating academic expertise with industry needs, the initiative seeks to produce highly skilled professionals poised to drive innovation and growth in the field.

Organised by the 4TU.Federation of Dutch universities, the three partner universities in the initiative are set to offer a new specialisation in optics and photonics within existing master’s programmes in applied physics and electrical engineering. The MPOP – supported by PhotonDelta and Optics Netherlands – will go live in September 2024.

Each university will deliver its own specialist courses in optics and photonics, as well as facilitate inter-university activities and training, giving students the flexibility to attend courses across different university campuses. An array of scientific and social activities will be on offer, as well as first-hand industry experience.

Eligible master’s students in applied physics and electrical engineering can expect challenge-based projects as well as unique internships with industry-leading companies and innovative startups, including ASML, Signify, SMART Photonics, and LioniX International. They will also work alongside renowned research institutes like SRON and imec.

Part of a national programme, the MPOP aims to open doors to diverse industries – from agri-food to automotive – with promising job prospects in R&D and academia. With the sector poised for significant growth over the next few years – and attracting both public and private investment – MPOP is designed to bring technical talent into the industry.

In this way, the programme is intended to address the growing need for talent within the Netherlands, which PhotonDelta says is a hub of innovation for optics and photonics, with a vibrant collaborative ecosystem. Professionals in optics and photonics help shape the future of technology and drive global innovations via cutting-edge projects in areas such as data communications, sensing technology, medical imaging, renewable energy, and manufacturing. Adding to the Netherlands’ optics and photonics ecosystem, PhotonDelta and Optics Netherlands are coordinating efforts to foster a fertile ground for corporate giants, startups, and research endeavours.

Vinod Subramaniam, president of the University of Twente, and supervisory board member of PhotonDelta, commented:

“The launch of MPOP is a significant step forward for the optics and photonics community in the Netherlands. We’re excited to join this groundbreaking initiative to fulfil our mission to further industrialise the photonic chip industry with the support of the National Growth Fund. Our shared tradition of research excellence in optics and photonics drives this collaboration. We’re committed to innovative education, preparing students for emerging fields. This MPOP will help nurture the next generation of talent in optics and photonics.

“Together, we’ll empower students for complex challenges. Our collaboration ensures interdisciplinary learning for success in optics and photonics. PhotonDelta is thrilled to see this collaboration among leading universities in the Netherlands to advance education in optics and photonics. This programme aligns with our mission to accelerate widespread adoption of photonics, and we believe it will play a crucial role in shaping the future workforce in this field.”

Mert Erdolu, a master’s student in electrical engineering at TU/e, highlighted the relevance of the programme for people seeking a career in optics or photonics:

“As a student immersed in photonics integration at TU/e, I’ve witnessed first-hand the immense potential of optics and photonics through the industrial internship and master thesis project.

“With pioneering research, thriving spin-offs, and proximity to Optics Netherlands and PhotonDelta, it’s the ultimate launchpad for a career in this dynamic field. For those people ready to be at the forefront of innovation and seize countless opportunities, it offers the chance to shape the future. It isn’t just a field; it’s a gateway to endless possibilities.”

Image credit: TU Delft

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