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Cadet Research Spotlight: The New and Improved Digital Holography Demonstration System

Cadet Research Spotlight: The New and Improved Digital Holography Demonstration System

The Digital Holography Demonstration (DHD) project began in 2019 as a partnership between Air Force Research Labs (AFRL), the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) and the United States Air Force Academy Physics Department to build, test and improve a hands-on demonstration tool intended to show basic-to-advanced principals in optics, lasers, atmospheric physics and signal processing. The tool is designed to convey these complex topics in an interactive manner for both STEM outreach and for discussing these technologies with high-level leadership.  AFRL funded the project to help encourage more participation in STEM and optics and laser career fields. Over the last few years, the number of physics majors studying optics and lasers has been low. Fortunately, the USAFA Physics Department has recognized the importance of this field and plans to require all physics majors to take a lasers & optics course in the future.

Last year, 2Lt Connor Vikupitz (’20) and C1C Ryan Schneider (’21) helped build and test the original DHD system as part of a 499 independent research course. Lt Vikupitz demonstrated the system at the Colorado Springs Undergraduate Research Forum (CSURF) 2019 and presented their results at the Education and Training in Optics & Photonics (ETOP) conference in 2019. C1C Schneider was set to present the updated project at CSURF 2020 this spring; however, the event was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. At CSURF 2020, the team hoped to demonstrate the new dynamic turbulence system prototype they developed to simulate real-world dynamic turbulence within the DHD. C1C Schneider is currently serving as a summer intern at Lockheed Martin where he is applying the ideas he learned in his USAFA DHD research.

Lt Vikupitz is currently on casual status at Nellis Air Force Base awaiting pilot training. Lt Vikupitz and C1C Schneider were supported by Maj Casey Pellizzari, a 62E Electrical Engineer with a background in Electro Optics.

To learn more about research at your Air Force Academy, contact the Research Office at DFRO_Office_of_Research@usafa.edu. You can also visit the  Research Office webpage: click here.