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Two Niagara College students win photonics scholarships

International recognition awarded in study of physical science of light waves
Janvi Patel and Harsha Gopi were awarded scholarships for the study of photonics.

For the second year in a row, Niagara College photonics engineering technician students have been awarded the Eichenholz-SPIE Photonics scholarship for the 2022-2023 academic year.

Photonics is the study of the physical science of light waves which explores the generation, detection and manipulation of light.

Students Harsha Gopi and Janvi Patel are among the four recipients of the $2,500 scholarships awarded on behalf of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. Both students just completed their first year in the photonics engineering technician program and will be returning to NC in the fall term to continue their studies, a news release stated.

The scholarships support tuition and fees, textbooks, computer, or computer upgrade, and supplies and equipment needed for courses of instruction. Scholarship winners also receive a one-year complimentary SPIE Student Membership, which offers tools, workshops and network opportunities for professional growth, lifelong learning, and career advancement.

“On behalf of Niagara College, I'm pleased to congratulate Harsha and Janvi for receiving this international recognition and scholarship,” said Leo Tiberi, Dean, Media, Trades and Technology. “We are proud to see our Photonics Engineering Technician students apply the practical skills taught in our labs to reach academic achievements outside the classroom that will help advance their future careers as technicians.” 

"SPIE congratulates the Eichenholz-SPIE Photonics Technician Scholarship winners," said Kent Rochford, SPIE CEO. "With the optics and photonics industry’s rapid growth, there’s an increasing demand for skilled technicians. We very much appreciate Niagara College's commitment to developing this critical workforce for the exciting jobs that await Harsha and Janvi."

Both from India, Gopi and Patel hold a bachelor’s degree in physics and came to Niagara College in the fall of 2022 to enhance their education in photonics.

“It gives me a sense of pride and honor to be a part of this unique program only offered at NC,” Patel said. “During my time at the College, my classmates and I have been provided with well-equipped labs and experienced professors who can demonstrate photonics through experimental setups.”

Similarly, Gopi feels the program’s integration of experiential learning has helped her grow as both a student and person by elevating her knowledge, confidence, and curiosity.

“I am gaining tons of hands-on experience that I know will adequately prepare me for the workplace,” said Gopi. “I can learn from professors who are well-experienced in the field and are always available to offer helpful support and guidance.”

Program Coordinator and Professor, Cristina Simionescu, encouraged both students to apply for the scholarship and guided them through the complex application process that required strong academic performance, a personal essay, and two references.

“Congratulations to Harsha and Janvi for being awarded this scholarship and thank you to SPIE for their unwavering support of our students,” said Simionescu. “Harsha and Janvi’s passion for photonics is inspiring, and this recognition will undoubtedly lead them to pursue excellence in everything they will do, not only professionally but also as supporters of the photonics community.”