Photonics is the science of light and 2015 is the International Year of Light, so as he comes to the end of his undergraduate studies, Daniel O'Sullivan is emerging with a degree that could hardly be more relevant.
Photonics is his specialisation, leaving him well-placed to pursue a career centred on light-based technologies, which are used in everything from smartphones and laptops to medical instruments. Photonics has taken over the role that electronics played in the technological revolution of the 20th century.
The 24-year-old, from Kenmare, Co Kerry, studied physics at UCC for a few years before going to Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), using Recognition of Prior Learning to join midway through the first year of a Level 7 (ordinary degree) programme in Applied Physics and Instrumentation.
He completed that last year, walking away with a best student award and went straight into fourth year of the honours degree, Instrument Engineering, which he is currently completing.
According to Daniel, the courses have a strong practical side, relating to the use and design of instrumentation both in industry, and other scenarios. "There is a high demand for us from industrial companies in the Cork area," he said.
In second year, Daniel was awarded a student scholarship from the CAPPA research group based in CIT, and which has a close relationship with UCC's Tyndall Institute, to work on a commercial project over the summer break involving the design of a sensor that would use light to detect the concentration of a certain chemical in water.
"I assisted with other optics-related projects that involved spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy. I've since been offered a post-graduate place with the same research group," said Daniel.