Students discover the possibilities of photonics

High Speed Communications

11 July 2014

Teenagers from across the UK explored the fascinating world of lasers and high speed communications at an event sponsored by and held at Aston University.   

The High Speed Communications Course, organised by educational charity, The Smallpeice Trust, and Aston’s Dr Kate Sugden, was attended by 28 College students interested in future engineering careers. 

Over the three days, the 16 and 17 year old students discovered first-hand the essential role that photonic communication technologies play in delivering healthcare, industrial development and financial services, all of which are central to the country’s social and economic progress. 

They worked alongside respected experts in the field at the Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies (AIPT), taking part in interactive laboratory experiments with lasers, optical fibres, transmitters and receivers.   

The students furthered their knowledge of the components and systems that make up global communications networks by competing in a team challenge to transmit sound from an MP3 player to an audio amp using optical fibres. 

Dr Kate Sugden, a member of AIPT and lead academic on the High Speed Communications course, said: “We were delighted to sponsor this event at Aston University – it was a pleasure to be involved in. It was fantastic to see such enthusiasm from all the Year 12 participants. They rose to the challenges we set them and very impressively built their own working fibre transmission links.”

  “High speed optical communications underpin our modern lives and we believe it is important to impart that knowledge to young people.” 

The students also attended lectures given by Jaguar Land Rover and Virgin Media and an informal end of course dinner. 

Clare Fisher, a Spokesperson for The Smallpeice Trust, said: “Working in partnership with Aston University, we have been able to provide a fascinating insight into the subject of high speed communications and the employment opportunities available within this innovative sector. We are confident that through experiences like these, we can help to encourage more and more young people to choose a fulfilling career in engineering.” 

The Smallpeice Trust is an independent charity which promotes engineering as a viable career, primarily through the provision of residential courses for young people aged 12 to 18. Through running residential courses and STEM enrichment days, The Trust has reached out to 17,495 students in the UK over the past year. 


For further media information, please contact Jonathan Garbett, Aston University Communications on 0121 204 4552 or