Author Archives: bcromey

SOCk invites CIAN students to Conference

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Hello, CIAN students!

The Student Optics Chapter (SOCk) at the College of Optical Sciences is organizing an OSA International OSA Network of Students (IONS) conference coming up in the fall, and we would love to have some CIAN students attend. Registration is free, and the conference is packed with great opportunities for you.

  • All out of town conference attendees will have their hotel paid for Friday-Sunday night at the Double Tree Inn and Suites. In addition, we have travel grants for international students and undergraduates. More information is on our travel page!
  • This is a student conference! We have provided lots of opportunities for you to socialize with your fellow OSA students from around the globe, such as spending an evening in downtown Tucson, visiting the world renowned Desert Museum, a social poster session, and other chances throughout our four days together. 
  • A sit down breakfast is provided every morning by the Double Tree, and nearly all other meals will be covered by the conference.
  • Our invited speakers include the director of the BIO5 institute Dr. Jennifer Barton, and Oculus Rift Lead Engineer Dr. Scott McEldowney. We will have two additional keynote speakers, and are waiting to hear back from them to confirm. 
  • Our event programming includes panel discussion about careers in industry and academia, as well as learning how to best manage your student chapter.

More information on conference programming and events can be found on our website! You can register for the conference on this page on our website, which also includes instructions on how to submit your abstracts for consideration.

Thanks so much! I hope to see you in the fall at IONS Tucson 2016!


SPIE Ben faceBENJAMIN CROMEY –GRADUATE STUDENT, UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA

NSF Fellow Benjamin Cromey is pursuing his PhD in Optical Sciences and Engineering at the University of Arizona. As a member of the Optics Ambassadors and the Vice President for the Student Optics Chapter, optics outreach is one of his passions. He participated in the 2012 IOU program with CIAN and worked with 3D Holographic Displays as an undergraduate. Currently, he works with Dr. Khanh Kieu on fiber lasers and Multiphoton Microscopy. Ben’s posts.

CIAN International Travel Grant: Jasmine’s New Zealand Story

This year, I received a CIAN student travel grant for conference travel. Thanks to this grant, I headed to New Zealand over Thanksgiving for the International Network of OSA Students Conference on Optics, Atoms, and Laser Applications (IONS KOALA). Throughout the week, I gave a presentation on my research, listened to students from around the world present their research, heard a talk by a Nobel laureate, and explored the city of Auckland!

KOALA is a conference that bounces between Australia and New Zealand every year, so naturally, its mascot is a koala hugging a kiwi:

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Each year’s organizing team adds a new patch, although the poor koala is starting to run out of space.

This was a student conference, which showed in a couple of ways. We were told at the start of the conference that anyone going over their time limit (15 minutes for most talks) would get shot with a Nerf gun until they stopped talking. This was apparently a pretty effective threat, because only one presenter went over time. Also, the organizers went out of their way to ensure that the presenters felt encouraged; if no one in the audience had a question at the end of a talk, the session chair would always ask something.

Continue reading

Columbia Students Outreach at Manhattan School of Math and Science

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CIAN students Tingjun Chen, Craig Gutterman,  Yishen Huang, and Alex Loh, as well as organizers from the school.

On Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015, Columbia University EE Ph.D. students participated in an outreach event with high school students from the Robotics and Engineering Group at the Manhattan School of Math and Science in East Harlem.
CIAN students Tingjun Chen, Craig Gutterman, and Alex Loh, from the Wireless and Mobile Networking Lab, talked about broad concepts of the Internet along with basic concepts of wireless communications. CIAN student Yishen Huang, from the Lightwave Research Lab, discussed lasers, and the principles of optical communications. The high school students showed great interest in the topics and interacted actively with CIAN students. We hope that the students may have realized how beautiful science can be, and that they walked away with an increased interest in studying science in college.
This event was hosted by Mr. Umit Kenis from the Manhattan School of Math and Science.

 

An Evening with Captain Jim Lovell

The Captain of Apollo 13 is not your typical dinner guest.

In 2014, I was honored to be named an Astronaut Scholar. The Astronaut Scholarship, which was established by the original Mercury 7 astronauts, aims to aid the United States in retaining its world leadership in science and technology by providing college scholarships for the very best and brightest students pursuing science, technology, engineering or math degrees. My colleague and friend here at Optical Sciences, Travis Sawyer, received an Astronaut Scholarship both in 2014 and 2015.

Earlier in December, Travis and I got an email about an amazing opportunity. The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, or ASF, was holding an event near Phoenix for a large group of potential donors, and they wanted to have a few Astronaut Scholars present for the event. I could barely contain my excitement when I realized who the speaker for the evening would be, Captain James Lovell, of Gemini 7 and 12, and Apollo 8 and 13!

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Left to Right: Myself, Captain James Lovell, and Travis Sawyer.

We arrived in Phoenix just before dinner time and drove out to the venue, a very nice country club in a gated neighborhood. We had the opportunity to talk with Captain Lovell a bit before the other folks started arriving, then we mingled until dinner time. We enjoyed a wonderful view of the sunset over the Phoenix Valley.

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Arizona sunsets are amazing.

After meeting and speaking with several retired folks, dinner commenced. We got to sit with the leadership of the ASF, plus a member of the board of Trustees for ASF and his family, and of course Captain Lovell.

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Travis, myself, Todd Hanson from ASF, and Captain Lovell at dinner

Most of the people at the table really didn’t know about optical sciences, so Travis and I took turns explaining the applications of optics, and our own individual backgrounds. I had a chance to pass around the hologram I had made as part of the Real Holography project I did as an undergraduate with CIAN. Travis talked about the role of optics in art, such as determining brush strokes, artist identification, and the hyperspectral imaging of art. I got to ask Captain Lovell several questions, such as about the Apollo 13 movie and his involvement. Turns out the captain of the aircraft carrier that retrieves the Apollo 13 crew in the film is the actual Captain Lovell!  I also asked him if there was a question that people always asked him at events like these, to which he replied “How do you go to the bathroom in space?”

He then gave a lecture to us and the potential donors present about his experiences in Space, mostly about Apollo 13.

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Captain Lovell showed us a video that was included in the report to Congress on the events of Apollo 13.

He had remarkable hindsight to say that the explosion was the best thing to happen to NASA at the time, because it exposed some of the complacency that had lead to the accident, and allowed the incredible people who were part of NASA to shine as they worked furiously to bring the team home. He was also quite funny and a gentlemen. What a privilege to spend time with him.

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SPIE Ben faceBENJAMIN CROMEY –GRADUATE STUDENT, UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA

Benjamin Cromey is pursuing his PhD in Optical Sciences and Engineering at the University of Arizona. As a member of the Optics Ambassadors and the Vice President for the Student Optics Chapter, optics outreach is one of his passions. He participated in the 2012 IOU program with CIAN and worked with 3D Holographic Displays as an undergraduate. Currently, he works with Dr. Khanh Kieu on fiber lasers and Multiphoton Microscopy.

The International Year of Light and Laser Fun Day 2015

International Year of Light logoHappy New Year! You may or may not have heard about the International Year of Light. Quoting from the United Nations handout, “The International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies (IYL 2015) is a global initiative to raise awareness of how optical technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications and health.”

Both SPIE and OSA, along with other international organizations such as the United Nations, are promoting the IYL to raise awareness about the impact of optics on the challenges of the world. The Student Optics Chapter (SOCk) at the University of Arizona has always had optics outreach as one of the primary goals of its mission statement. The IYL has just given us a remarkable opportunity to have an even greater impact than usual.

I’ve discussed our annual Laser Fun Day event in a previous blog post. Thanks to a very generous grant from SPIE, SOCk is able to make our fifth annual Laser Fun Day all about the International Year of Light! As always, each of the undergraduate classes will have a theme assigned for the class to develop and demonstrate to visitors. This year, the themes will be based on the IYL themes.Laser Fun Day Logo_with date

  • The Seniors (my class) will be discussing Communications. I plan to involve my friends in the various CIAN labs to assist us in this demonstration, since Communications is an area that CIAN has certainly had a great impact in.
  • The Juniors will have Energy as their theme.
  • The Sophomores will talk about the impact of optics on Health.
  • Education will be covered both by SOCk and the College of Optical Sciences. We will discuss the college and how optics has impacted education in general.
  • Our contacts in the College of Agriculture, along with several optics people working on relevant projects, will cover the Agriculture theme.

Thanks to the SPIE grant, we are also redesigning our ever popular Laser Maze! The previous laser maze served us well for four years, but was made on a low budget, leaving several areas for us to improve upon. Laser Maze 2.0 will address many of the issues of the first version by being easier to assemble, stiffer in alignment, and easier to transport! Since it is a modular design by nature, it will also allow us to vary the laser maze design to make it more interesting.

Thanks for reading! I’ll be posting more about Laser Fun Day as we move forward toward the event.

To learn more about the International Year of Light, visit the IYL website.

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BENJAMIN CROMEY – UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT, UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA

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 Vice President 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. Ben’s posts.

Science Saturday: More than Rainbows

IMG_4497For the second year in a row, we have gone to Wheeler Taft Abbot Library to present as part of their Science Saturday series. Last year, we talked about the “Moons of the Solar System.” This year, our topic was “More than Rainbows,” or how light and color are much more than what we see in nature. We had between thirty and forty people, adults and children, at this event.

Everyone loves diffraction glasses! I enjoy watching the looks of awe that kids get when they put them on for the first time.

Everyone loves diffraction glasses! I enjoy watching the looks of awe that kids get when they put them on for the first time.

After I gave a short presentation at the beginning, everyone came and looked at all the demonstrations we had brought with us. Continue reading

Optics + Photonics 2014

Several weeks ago, I attended SPIE’s Optics +Photonics 2014 conference in San Diego, CA. My primary purpose for attending was to take part in the Student Leadership Conference for student chapter officers. I was recently elected as the Vice President for the Student Optics Chapter, so this was an appropriate event to prepare me for my greater leadership role this year.

The SOCk officers present at Optics + Photonics, from left to right: Soha Namnabat, Outreach Co-chair this year (CIAN student); myself; Dawson Baker,  our president for SOCk this year; Dale Karas, last year's president.

The SOCk officers present at Optics + Photonics, from left to right: Soha Namnabat, Outreach Co-chair this year (CIAN student); myself; Dawson Baker, our president for SOCk this year; Dale Karas, last year’s president.

After the Student Chapter Leadership Workshop on Saturday, the main conference began. In addition to the technical presentations, there continued to be student development workshops, as well as fun events. One of my favorite events from the conference was the Optics Outreach Games. Student chapters could bring an outreach demonstration of theirs to the conference and compete with other chapters for awards from judges and from participants. We brought our Schlieren imaging system to the competition. Continue reading