Tech

August 6, 2012

Army Lab summer students gain real world defense experience

Tags:
by Joyce P. Brayboy
Adelphi, Md.

Eric Turner is a rising senior who studies electrical engineering at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He is working with the RF Signal Processing and Modeling Branch for a 12-week summer program. He became interested in the defense industry after a year in Reserved Officer Training Corps. His father is serving the Army in Afghanistan.

Students who visit the U.S. Army Research Laboratory as summer interns may be surprised to find themselves working on research projects projecting soldiers’ needs far into the future.

Others of the 250 high school, undergraduate and graduate students who are part of the educational outreach programs at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, known as ARL, are participating for the first time and may not know what to expect.

“I just knew I wanted to be challenged,” said Eric Turner, a rising senior who studies electrical engineering at Howard University in Washington, D.C. “I have been around the military all of my life, but recently I became interested in the defense industry. I want to be part of a good research experience that allows me to publish [a paper] before graduate school.”

Turner was working on his research in the laboratory the same week he arrived. He and three other students will continue with the Radio Frequency Signal Processing and Modeling Branch for 12 weeks.

Brian Phelan is a graduate research assistant at Penn State University in State College, Penn., who studies electrical engineering and is working with the RF Signal Processing and Modeling Branch for a 12-week summer program. He is collaborating with Army scientists on a project that is part of his graduate program throughout the school year.

Students come from the local area and as far as west as Texas or Utah for several summer programs including: The Science and Engineering Apprentice Program, Career Related Experience in Science and Technology, Directed Energy Internships in Laser Science and Technology, Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation, or SMART, Program and Science Outreach for Army Research.

“ARL has a rich history of supporting STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] outreach,” said Vallen Emery, outreach and small business program manager, ARL. “It is important that we give students the opportunity to practice theory. We also want them to leave with a real grasp of how Army innovations keep Soldiers prepared on the battlefield.”

Part of the lab mission is to provide the facilities and share vital pieces of what ARL scientists and engineers do through researchers’ mentorship, Emery said.

Senior leaders like Colleen Adams take the charge to share knowledge to heart.

“I don’t think you learn by walking behind someone and watching what they do. You have to be able to see and touch it,” said Adams, High Performance Computing Networking Branch chief in the Computational and Information Sciences Directorate. “The interns get hands-on exposure they would not normally get in a learning environment – and they get paid for it.”

Interns in her branch are involved with project management, they work with ARL engineers and based on their exposure, sometimes they want to experience other projects, Adams said.

“We figure out a way to accommodate avenues they would like to explore,” said Adams, who has been involved in ARL educational outreach for 10 years. Mentorship does take you from the “daily grind,” but “it is extremely important for us to pull these young people along. It allows them to figure out a path that is right for them.”

Philip Saponaro is a graduate research assistant at the University of Delaware in Newark, Del., who studies computer science and is working with the RF Signal Processing and Modeling Branch for a 12-week summer program. Saponaro is working on augmented reality this summer. He will take a radar image and real-time video and merge the two so the image points of interest are evident in the video.

In the constantly changing field of computer technology, students seek out opportunities for diversity.

“I have gained so much experience to boost my resume,” said Zamon Granger, an electronics engineer who recently came to work with the High Performance Computing Networking Branch following several years in educational outreach programs. “When I first came here I just wanted to be an intern. I did not have any idea what direction to go for a graduate degree.”

The computer engineering major started at Jackson State University in Mississippi, and accepted a computer network summer internship. He ultimately stayed with ARL and went on to graduate school at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

“I felt like ARL would give me a good start,” Granger said. “Everybody wants you to know what they are doing. The teams collaborate.”

Selena Lowry, a rising junior at the University of Maryland University College, started out attending a community college as a math major, but after talking to Adams about her career as a first-year intern, decided computer networking and security was a better fit.

“I was in awe,” Lowry said. “I didn’t know what a firewall switch was, but I learned fast.”

Kalonji Bankole is a rising senior who studies computer engineering at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He is working with the RF Signal Processing and Modeling Branch for a 12-week summer program. Bankole will work in the area of augmented reality. He will also work on a graphics processing unit, taking the image from radar impulses and using it to create graphics.

The summer program selection board looks for candidates who demonstrate quick learning ability, a solid contribution to lab projects, and the willingness to work in teams, said Anders Sullivan, chief of the Radio Frequency Signal Processing and Modeling Branch of the Sensors and Electron Devices Directorate.

“We get a lot of resumes from already very bright students with high grade point averages,” Sullivan said. “What we provide them is a research lab experience, which can be win-win whether they wind up in defense or not.”

Philip Saponaro, a graduate research assistant who is studying computer science at the University of Delaware in Newark, Del., said he hopes to start a technology company that specializes in facial recognition applications for smart phones.

His summer research focus of taking radar images and real-time video and merging the two so the image points of interest are evident in the video “is a step in the right direction,” Saponaro said.

Summer students will present research at the ARL Summer Student Symposium from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Aug. 9 in the Adelphi Laboratory Center auditorium. For more information about the ARL Student Programs, visit www.arl.army.mil and click Student Programs on the left side of the page.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
darpa-notice

DARPA Tactical Technology Office invites innovative risk-takers to attend 2014 Office-Wide Proposers Day

DARPAs Tactical Technology Office invests in innovative platforms, weapons, integrated systems and critical systems components that often incorporate emerging advanced technologies, all designed to preserve and extend decisive ...
 
 

AFRL provides environmentally-preferred alternatives for removing radome coatings

Radomes, tail cones, and other fiberglass or composite components on E-3, KC-135, and B-52 aircraft are coated with polyurethane rain erosion resistant coatings to protect them from the effects of rain erosion in flight. Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex (OC-ALC) production workers must remove the coatings during depot overhaul to allow for inspection and repair....
 
 
darpa-uav-network

Remote troops closer to having high-speed wireless networks mounted on UAVs

Missions in remote, forward operating locations often suffer from a lack of connectivity to tactical operation centers and access to valuable intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance data. The assets needed for long-range...
 

 
Photograph courtesy of Research Center for Marine Geosciences/DLR

NASA signs agreement with German, Canadian partners to test alternative fuels

NASA photograph A heavily instrumented NASA HU-25 Falcon measures chemical components from the larger DC-8′s exhaust generated by a 50/50 mix of conventional jet fuel and a plant-derived biofuel, demonstrating the type of...
 
 
darpa-phoenix2

Phoenix makes strides in orbital robotics, satellite architecture research

The process of designing, developing, building and deploying satellites is long and expensive. Satellites today cannot follow the terrestrial paradigm of “assemble, repair, upgrade, reuse,” and must be designed to operate w...
 
 

AFRL researchers uncover structural, function relationships in bioinspired nanomaterials

In his 1954 work, The Nature of Science, Edwin Powell Hubble said, “Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science.” During his tenure with the Air Force Research Laboratory, National Research Council associate Dr. Nick Bedford, embarked on such an adventure that applied both biological and physical...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>