SPIE Student Member awards

Recognizing outstanding SPIE Student Members

The SPIE Student Awards program focuses on rewarding students who demonstrate excellence in the optics and photonics community. View our current award below, and check back for more awards slated to come in the future.

Student and advisor pose after receiving the SPIE Presidential Award for Outstanding Student Chapter at awards ceremony in San Diego

SPIE Presidential Award for Outstanding Student Chapter

Congratulations to the 2024 recipient

University of Guanajuato SPIE Student Chapter poses in front of planetarium

We are pleased to announce that the OASIS University of Guanajuato SPIE Student Chapter, of Salamanca, Guanajuato, Mexico, has been awarded the 2024 Presidential Award for Outstanding Student Chapter. 2024 SPIE President Jennifer Barton reported that the chapter stood out because of its exceptional accomplishments in 2023, including founding an astronomy club inside the SPIE chapter to broaden reach and increase membership; orchestrating many creative activities that combine outreach, technical knowledge, and professional development; and initiating the Optics and Photonics for Applications conference, which brought together students and accomplished senior investigators. She noted, “Their enthusiasm for SPIE and all things optics shines in the Annual Report — in both words and pictures."

We’d also like to recognize the two other frontrunners: second runner-up SPIE Student Chapter at the University Of Delhi at Acharya Narendra Dev College, in Govindpuri, Delhi, India, and third runner-up SPIE Student Chapter at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, United States.

Barton noted that the Acharya Narendra Dev College chapter was “impressive, in both size and ambition.” She added, “Their activities were inspiring, and the sense of community and mutual support within the chapter comes through in every word of their report.”

Barton praised the chapter at Montana State Universityfor an all-around excellent chapter with regular technical and professional development activities featuring diverse A-list speakers, exciting outreach activities, and a focus on growing the chapter.”

Congratulations to all three chapters for aptly planting seeds for future optics and photonics development.

Award description

Established in 2022, this annual award is a way to show the Society's appreciation for our Student Chapters and their critical contributions to the optics and photonics community.

The recipient will be an SPIE Student Chapter that demonstrates an exceptional level of participation, enthusiasm, program quality, professionalism, and involvement in their institution, the local community, and the larger SPIE community. Further emphasis is placed on robust outreach to undergraduate students, community service, increased technical education efforts, and developing an engaged — and engaging — chapter community.

The recipient chapter will be presented with the award at SPIE Optics + Photonics in its recipient year. In order to facilitate attendance, the award covers travel and accommodation costs (up to $2,000 per person), as well as conference registration fees, for three representatives from the recipient Student Chapter, and conference registration fees for the chapter’s advisor. Chapter representatives must have been active in the chapter during the year of the annual report that earned the recognition and be current Student or Early Career Members at the time of SPIE Optics + Photonics award presentation. 


Award criteria

To be considered for this award, SPIE Student Chapters must:

  • Submit their annual report by the 1 December deadline of the previous year.
  • Have a minimum of 10 members.
  • Have an SPIE Member as a faculty advisor.
  • Have undertaken innovative and impactful activities in the following areas:
    • Community involvement — can include activities such as outreach to undergraduate students with a focus on increasing awareness about the fields of optics and photonics, community service engaging undergraduate students on campus, and community service with the local community or with SPIE.
    • Technical dissemination — technical activities such as company visits, research programs, symposiums, technical presentations, speaker series, and training courses.
    • Engaging, retaining, and growing membership — programs such as awards, alumni engagement, welcome activities for new members, and volunteer recognition. Also, initiatives to grow the Student Chapter and to support the student-to-professional conversion.
    • Operations and planning — development of annual goals, strategies to engage current members, communications, and promotional campaigns, etc.
    • Participation and enthusiasm — high participation of membership at events on or off campus, high attendance at SPIE events or conferences (in person or virtual), and innovative activities to further passion for optics and photonics.



Previous recipients

2023 SPIE Presidential Award for Outstanding Student Chapter recipients at awards ceremony

The OSKar (Optics Students of Karlsruhe) SPIE Student Chapter of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Karlsruhe, Germany, was awarded the 2023 Presidential Award for Outstanding Student Chapter. 2023 SPIE President Bernard Kress reported that the chapter stood out because of its breadth of activities, including International Day of Light observations, industry visits, and social and networking events.

SPIE Student Chapter at Instituto Nacional de Astrofisica, Óptica y Electrónica (INAOE) receives its plaque at the awards ceremony in San Diego in August 2022

The SPIE Student Chapter at Instituto Nacional de Astrofisica, Óptica y Electrónica (INAOE) in Tonantzintla, Puebla, Mexico, earned the first-ever Presidential Award for Outstanding Student Chapter in 2022. Read the full press release.