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Friedrich Schiller University in Jena Founds Graduate Research School of Photonics


Optical industry finances scholarships worth over 300,000 euros

To promote the future careers of young scientific graduates in the field of optics, the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena is setting up a Graduate Research School focused on biophotonics, lasers, optical materials and systems. This was announced on the evening of 20 November 2007 by University Chancellor Dr. Klaus Bartholmé and Thuringia’s Minister of Cultural Affairs Professor Dr. Jens Goebel in the presence of Dr. Michael Kaschke, Member of the Carl Zeiss AG Executive Board, Frank Einhellinger, Chief Financial Officer of JENOPTIK AG, und Dr. Klaus Schindler, Managing Director of OptoNet e.V. The optical industry based in Jena helped to initiate the founding of this institution of the Friedrich Schiller University and played a key role in its promotion. The companies Carl Zeiss and Jenoptik and the OptoNet e.V. competency network, for example, support the Graduate Research School by financing scholarships totaling 311,000 euros. Additional funds are being provided by the federal state of Thuringia.

The Graduate Research School of Photonics at the University of Jena, which will operate from 2008 to 2013, is an important element in the training of up-and-coming scientists in the field of photonics. University-President Professor Dr. Klaus Dicke thanked the representatives from the companies and the federal state: “This magnificent support will allow the University of Jena to expand research and teaching in the field of photonic technologies and provide industry with urgently needed specialists. Particularly in the light of the upcoming 450th anniversary of the University, this joint initiative of industry, science and the state of Thuringia is a further example of a functioning public-private partnership in Jena. Furthermore,“ continued President Dicke, “this promotion by industry and the forthcoming backing by the federal state from the future-oriented initiative ‘Excellent Thuringia’, underscores that the approach we have taken of focusing on specific areas of science is finding the necessary support and recognition.“

Outstanding students from Germany or abroad can apply for the doctoral scholarships for the summer semester in 2008. The scholarships are valid for three years. A total of twelve scholarships will be advertised, of which three are being financed by Carl Zeiss and two by Jenoptik. One scholarship is being funded by OptoNet as a representative of mid-sized and small companies in Thuringia.

Minister of Cultural Affairs Goebel welcomes the commitment being shown by the university and industry: “Thuringia is a research site with a future. This was impressively demonstrated by the success achieved in the second round of Germany’s excellence initiative. The founding of the Graduate Research School of Photonics is further strengthening not only the Friedrich Schiller University and Jena as the German ‘City of Science in 2008’, but also the entire scientific state of Thuringia, particularly in the future- oriented field of optics. This has all been made possible by the support of Carl Zeiss AG, Jenoptik AG and OptoNet e. V. Thanks to these strong partners, our state will continue to assert its position in the global competitive arena in the future.“

Industry’s need for specialist graduates in the field of optics and photonics has grown enormously. Industry in Jena will play its part in structuring the graduate teaching program in order to ensure that its own future staff receives targeted, highly qualified training. Dr. Michael Kaschke, one of the initiators of the Graduate Research School, explains the commitment of Carl Zeiss as follows: "As one of the leading companies in the field of optics, Carl Zeiss attaches special importance to promoting the training of potential staff in the field of photonics. The Carl Zeiss companies at the Jena site are sharply focused on research and occupy one of the leading positions in the important future-oriented markets of the life sciences, medical technology and the semiconductor industry. To maintain and expand this position and open up new fields of application, highly qualified employees are required.“ Carl Zeiss is providing 155,000 euros for the three scholarship holders of the Graduate Research School whom it is funding. The commitment shown by the company in joint research projects with the university and in the awarding of internships already has a long tradition.

By supporting the Graduate Research School, Jenoptik is considerably expanding its collaboration with the Friedrich Schiller University. “We need a strong optics base and must further sharpen this focus on Jena as an industrial site. In addition to the quality of the cooperation with research, the speed at which we turn research results into actual products will become a key competitive advantage in the future. Therefore, promoting top-class, young scientists in the fields of laser technology, optics and optoelectronics is of decisive importance for us,“ explains CFO of JENOPTIK AG, Frank Einhellinger. Jenoptik will support two graduates and provide funds totaling 100,000 euros. Jenoptik has collaborated closely with the School of Physics and Astronomy of the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena since 2004.

Dr. Klaus Schindler stressed the importance of first-rate training, particularly for mid-sized companies. “The optics cluster in Jena is also supported by many small, but highly innovative companies. There are numerous examples of new and enhanced optical techniques and systems, with which firms from the Jena region are successful on the world market. To remain competitive or to take the lead in this area, we need a constant supply of excellent scientists for research institutes and industry.“

The Graduate Research School of the Friedrich Schiller University offers doctoral students the possibility of writing their theses within the framework of a coordinated, interdisciplinary research program supported by several professors. The multi-prong approach to the qualification process is based on interdisciplinarity, an intensive introductory phase and constant ongoing training, the communication of team capabilities and key qualifications. The university, industry and institutes outside the university will work closely together in the training process. The Graduate Research School, which will cooperate closely with the Jena Graduate Academy, offers not only a structured program of lectures, but also intensive support, an international recruitment procedure, regular joint events for the doctoral students, a guest scientist program, the promotion of stays at foreign partner institutes lasting several months, and targeted training in the presentation of results at international events. The study program includes the teaching of basic knowledge in project, quality and personnel management, as well as a four- week stay in a research area of an industrial enterprise.


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