Jacob Bouchard, a student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, attended the photonics summer academy at MIT.

Ultra-fast light particles

The American Institute of Manufacturing Integrated Photonics, or AIM Photonics, is based in Rochester, N.Y., while its educational arm, AIM Academy, is headquartered in Cambridge and affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

AIM Academy

Location: Cambridge
College affiliation: MIT
Founded: 2016
Purpose: To offer education and workforce development in photonics, including summer and winter academies for students and industry professionals

Julie Diop, program manager for the AIM Academy, said the discipline of integrated photonics involves using photons – ultra-fast light particles – for a range of tasks. Photon-based sensors can detect abnormalities in blood or impurities in water. Some photonic systems can replace electronic ones, moving data faster and more efficiently. Others offer a way of communicating between military planes, or between an ambulance and a street light that needs to turn green to let it through the intersection. LiDAR – light detection and ranging – devices bounce photons off objects to map three-dimensional objects, potentially changing the future of transportation.

Stuart Daudlin

“Any kind of driverless car technology will be using this way of looking at surroundings,” Diop said.

Through the academy, Daulin took part in a paid internship, putting his theoretical understanding of physics to practical use building simulations and then sharing his work with other students at a conference.

“It was a good networking opportunity, a great work opportunity,” he said.