Photonics at the EU-US Frontiers of Engineering in Finland

Urban mobility, CO2 capture and storage, integrated photonics and smart systems for personalized health care were the four themes of the interdisciplinary symposium EU-US Frontiers of Engineering which was held from the 17th to the 19th October 2016 at the Aalto University near Helsinki, Finland. About 60 outstanding engineers from Europe and the USA around the age of 35-45 years were selected to attend the symposium. The photonics session was co-chaired by Pavel Peterka from the Institute of Photonics and Electronics of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

The symposium was organized by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in partnership with the European Council of Academies of Applied Sciences, Technologies, and Engineering (EuroCASE) with organizational support provided by the Technology Academy Finland. The event facilitates international and cross-disciplinary research collaboration, promotes the transfer of new techniques and approaches across disparate engineering fields, and encourages the creation of a transatlantic network of world-class engineers.


Part of the photonics session participants, from the left: Lynford Goddard of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (session co-chair), Sasan Fathpour from CREOL, The College of Optics & Photonics, University of Central Florida (The Czech deputy prime minister for science and research Pavel Bělobrádek visited this lab in March 2016), Katia Gallo from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Po Dong from Bell labs in New Jersey, Adrienne Stiff Roberts from Duke University, Keren Bergman Columbia University and also from the new center AIM Photonics, Mircea Guina from Tampere University of Technology Finland, Pavel Peterka from ÚFE Prague (session co-chair) and Dominik Dorosz from the Bialystock Technical University.

Pavel Peterka said about the symposium: "The burden of administration and research work forces me to stick to my narrow specialization. Getting knowledge of the latest trends from several other disciplines from such outstanding people and professionals was inspiring and actually quite refreshing. The insight into the problem of capturing and processing CO2 leads not only to a lesson about its seriousness to the Earth, but also provides a link with photonics, because the best solution to the problem is to reduce production of CO2. In this respect we hear mostly about transportation. But look at data centers: they took last year 3% of the total electricity consumption in the USA. This is where photonics can significantly contribute to a lower energy consumption of data centers. Inspiring was also the perfect and careful preparation of the symposium by the NAE. The last thought of the symposium got stuck in my memory: it was about a question: what is the most important task of engineers in health care by 2050. At the time of 2050 there should be over half a billion people aged over 80 years and it is unrealistic that care for an ageing population can be managed with overcrowded hospitals. Therefore, the task for engineers is to allow children to care for their parents at home with the help of smart systems of personal healthcare."

How to get rid of traffic jams? This is the main task of urban transport optimization. It is well known that building ever wider and wider urban roads may even worsen traffic congestions. Mobile applications have brought an unexpectedly rapid revolution in transport optimization and now drivers themselves can in real time optimize their routes. Huge amounts of traffic data delivered from mobile networks allows to model traffic in large urban areas with very detailed resolution and accurate predictions of traffic intensity.

The list of lectures and other information about the symposium can be found at the NAE website.


10 Nov 2016