The summer between first and second year, I worked in the University of Toronto’s Micro/Nanophotonics Research Group led by Professor Joyce Poon. My primary project was helping graduate student Torrey Thiessen characterize his on-chip wavelength-tunable semiconductor laser design. I also helped graduate student Jared Mikkelsen characterize some of his passive device designs for his wafer-scale dimensional variation tolerance project.
Since pretty much everything on the optical table could be described as some combination of expensive, fragile, tiny, and difficult to handle, I quickly learned valuable lessons related to caution and patience. There was a lot of practical problem-solving in designing, assembling, and debugging the measurement apparatuses. Embedded in that process was writing MATLAB scripts that simultaneously controlled up to 5 pieces of lab equipment. I also analyzed the measurements, attended and presented at meetings, and presented at the Undergraduate Engineering Research Day (UnERD) conference.
What I particularly enjoyed was that there was an abundance of opportunities for me to learn more about both the specific field of photonic integrated circuits and research in general. Much of that came from talking to various graduate students in the building and asking them a silly amount of questions. I was also able to attend numerous talks on a variety of research topics given by Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) guest speakers. All in all, what I’ve learned this summer has definitely helped me develop a better idea of what my long term career goals are.
The graduate students of Professor Poon’s group (and of the 4th floor of Galbraith Building) are great company and I look forward to seeing them in the future. Special thanks to Professor Poon and the Division of Engineering Science for enabling this experience.