Dr. Steven Fiorino, professor of atmospheric physics and director of the Center for Directed Energy within AFIT’s Graduate School of Engineering and Management discusses the multi-spectral targeting system flown on USAF Reaper aircraft with Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall during his visit on 24 March. The MTS will be used to profile atmospheric properties so that students can research and develop methods to enhance both future laser capabilities and reconnaissance/surveillance sensor systems. (U.S. Air Force photo by Katie Scott)
Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall visited the Air Force Institute of Technology campus on 24 March prior to his keynote address at the Graduate School of Engineering and Management’s commencement ceremony that evening.
During his visit, Kendall learned about the defense-focused research the faculty and students accomplish as part of their degree programs. He also toured world-class AFIT centers hearing firsthand from students about their cutting-edge research.
Capt. Tyler Brown, an electrical engineering master’s student, discussed his thesis research on autonomous aircraft via deep reinforcement learning with Kendall during a stop at the Autonomy and Navigation Technology Center. The ANT center focuses on three research thrusts: autonomous and cooperative systems, non-global positioning system precision navigation, and robust GPS navigation/navigation warfare.
Applied physics master’s student Capt. Benjamin Rinaldi explained his efforts to characterize the effects small nano-sized aerosols can have on lasers and their effectiveness in future military operations with Kendall. Such nano-aerosols are common to both outdoor atmospheric as well as indoor laboratory settings such as found in AFIT’s High Energy Laser (HEL) Lab. Rinaldi’s research advanced a unique method to quantify ambient aerosol optical properties and their effects on HELs in laboratories or in the field, and has implications for both future military capabilities and civil climate assessment studies.
Dr. Steven Fiorino, professor of atmospheric physics and director of the Center for Directed Energy, discussed the Multi-Spectral Targeting System (MTS) flown on USAF Reaper aircraft. The MTS will be used to profile atmospheric properties so that students can research and develop methods to enhance both future laser capabilities and reconnaissance/surveillance sensor systems.
Fiorino also demonstrated new miniaturized optical turbulence sensors integrated on AFIT’s small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS). With the aid of sUAS pilots students can profile atmospheric effects at any point along a laser’s path in the lower atmosphere.
Additional tour stops provided Kendal with a broad introduction to the applied and experiential research conducted by AFIT students and faculty. Research highlights from other AFIT centers included the Center for Space Research and Assurance, the Scientific Test and Analysis Techniques Center of Excellence, the Center for Technical Intelligence Studies and Research, and the Center for Cyberspace Research. The tours emphasized how AFIT prepares students with the skills required to maintain the world's best Air and Space Force with the recognition of research as a critical element in quality graduate education.