RIT engineering student conducts research at MIT

Photo provided by MIT Summer Research Program

Joseph Vazquez '24 spent his summer making life-long connections and conducting research in optics and photonics in world-renowned facilities.

Vazquez, a third year student in mechanical engineering at the Kate Gleason College of Engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), participated in the MIT Summer Research Program (MSRP) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He and 83 other student researchers conducted research under the supervision of MIT faculty members in their chosen areas and enjoyed enriching experiences, exploring the Boston area.

Vazquez worked with MIT professor, Juejun Hu in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering on characterizing ring resonators and coupling structures for optics and photonics. Fiber-to-chip coupling structures play a crucial role in the transmission of light from large optical fibers to small silicon photonic waveguides. As new fiber-to-chip coupling schemes are developed it is essential to compare their performance with traditional coupling structures. Vazquez characterized traditional and free-form micro-optical fiber-to-chip coupling structures using conventional analytical techniques. Efficient fiber-to-chip coupling has been a bottleneck for integrated photonics and its adoption by many high-volume markets, including the telecommunications industry [1]. Vazquez’s research is working to change that. His work aims at providing a clear characterization of each coupling method, showcasing the superiority of free-form micro-optical couplers as a promising optical packaging solution with low coupling losses.

“This research experience has taught me the importance of oral communication in engineering,” said Vazquez. “I learned the importance of understanding your audience during my research experience. Knowing your audience is fundamental because you want to avoid overloading someone with technical jargon and concepts while not boring an expert with things they already know.”

In addition to a valuable research experience, Vazquez formed meaningful connections with MIT faculty and fellow student researchers while exploring New England. “My favorite part of this experience was connecting with MIT faculty and the MSRP cohort. Through small group discussions, the faculty provided great insights into the world of academia and graduate school. They were happy to connect further and share advice and resources,” said Vazquez. “Whether it was biking around Cambridge and Boston, having lunch with my lab group, or having an MSRP Pod Outing, my time outside of research was full of smiles and great memories.”​

[1] M. W. Puckett and N. A. Krueger, “Broadband, ultrahigh efficiency fiber-to-chip coupling via multilayer nanophotonics,” Applied Optics, vol. 60, no. 15, p. 4340, May 2021, doi: 10.1364/ao.417177.

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