Greetings from Washington State!

Greetings from the state of Washington! I am up here for my internship with Lockheed Martin. This location was originally a small business, Aculight, which Lockheed acquired in 2008, because of their groundbreaking work in high power fiber lasers. This site continues to make very high power fiber lasers, and I am fortunate enough to get to work here. While I’ve worked with lasers of several watts of power before, lasers that can burn holes into metal fit into a whole new category of dangerous, so a healthy respect and nervousness around the lasers here is almost essential to prevent accidents.

Myself at the Lockheed Site in Bothell, WA

Myself at the Lockheed Site in Bothell, WA

While I can’t get into much detail into what I work on here for security reasons, I currently work on two separate laser projects. Both of these projects are much earlier in the development and design process than I have ever worked with before, which is an excited environment to be in. Since the projects are so “young” so to speak,  I get to influence important aspects of the laser products. For example, I am working with two other Lockheed employees to design the first iteration of a major component of a laser, which is definitely the largest design responsibility I’ve ever had. This is a relatively small site for Lockheed Martin (just over 100 employees), so it’s not surprising that I am the only optics intern here, and one of only two interns overall. I definitely like the size of the site. Last summer, when I was an intern at Raytheon Missile Systems, I was at a large plant with 11,000 other Raytheon employees. Here, almost everyone knows each other, and nearly everyone I’ve spoken to has offered to help me if I get stuck on something.

I’m in the middle of my third week of my ten week internship here. I drove up from Arizona the last week of May. My parents drove up with me to distribute the distance among more drivers, which made the 1,700 mile drive much nicer. We stopped at Sequoia National Park along the way up, getting a chance to pose in front of the largest tree in the world, General Sherman.

Pictures hardly do this tree justice. It is enormous.

Pictures hardly do this tree justice. It is enormous. It isn’t the tallest tree in the world, but by volume, it is the largest.

The cooler climate of the northwest has been a pleasant change from the hot summers of Arizona. I’ve also enjoyed the abundance of water and the beach, giving me a chance to see some rather spectacular sunsets, like the one below off of Edmond’s Point.

It's amazing what Rayleigh Scattering can do to make a picture amazing. :)

It’s amazing what Rayleigh Scattering can do to make a picture amazing. 🙂

I have a “back-blog”, if you’re forgive the pun, of things to post about here on the CIAN blog. This last semester at the U of A has been my most difficult so far, and I haven’t spoken about my outreach activities recently. Soon, hopefully, I’ll finally talk about Laser Fun Day, which happened waaaaaay back in March, but it was a large enough and successful enough event that it’s still work blogging about this late. Also, I have my amazing trip up to Montana that I did last month to talk about in great detail. Short version: CIAN flew me out to Helena, Montana to talk to kids from Kindergarten up to High School about optics. I’m still waiting on permission from the school principal to use the pictures of the students, so once I hear from them, expect to see a post here. It was an amazing experience, and I’m so grateful to CIAN for providing the support to make the trip possible.

Anyway, stay tuned for those few blog posts, and probably a few more about my time here at Lockheed Martin.


Cropped Ben face

Benjamin Cromey is pursuing his Bachelors in Optical Sciences and Engineering at the University of Arizona. As a member of the Optics Ambassadors and the Outreach Coordinator for the Student Optics Chapter, optics outreach is one of his passions. He participated in the 2012 IOU program with CIAN and has been working with 3D Holographic displays ever since.

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