FIRST Robotics Display Booth

Three members from the chapter traveled to the Minnesota North Star Regional FIRST Robotics Competition in Minneapolis. Over 60 teams were in attendance from the surrounding area. While the competition was going on, the SPIE team was demonstrating its own ability to create in conjunction with displays provided by Michigan Tech's Summer Youth Program, Nanotechnology Enterprise, and Integrated Micro-systems Enterprise. SPIE displayed a variety of photonic exhibitions including the plasma speaker, diffractive optical displays, a lithium niobate crystal modulator, and a large Fresnel lens. As students passed by the tables, we were able to converse with them about their projects and show how our projects functioned in a hands-on manner. Overall, the trip provided a great outreach opportunity for Michigan Tech and its SPIE chapter. In the future, SPIE will continue to strive for more ways to encourage younger generations to become active in science and mathematics.

Engineering Explorations

The engineering explorations program at Tech allows first year engineering students the opportunity to explore the different fields of engineering. Different departments and groups around campus host explorations, evening activity sessions to introduce students to the field, in the various fields of engineering. Our chapter hosted the explorations entitled Photonics is light work!.

Photonics is light work!:
Come and explore the fascinating field of photonics. The area of photonics concentration in Electrical Engineering deals with generation and manipulation of light including such commonly known devices as lasers, cameras, fiber optics, and telescopes. Practical demonstrations and laboratory exercises will allow the attendees to gain a better understanding of the field and career options.

Journal Club

The Journal Club meets biweekly to discuss pre-selected academic papers in the field of optics and photonics. Usually, several different papers on one topic are discussed over a few meetings. Members then choose another topic and find papers to discuss. Previous topics include: Confocal microscopy, Plenoptic cameras, Wigner distribution, Multi-frame blind deconvolution, and Motion deblurring in single images. The group meets biweekly in the evening at the Keweenaw Brewing Company in downtown Houghton. To find out more or to join the Journal Club mailing list, contact Jeremy Bos.

AMJOCH Observatory

The AMJOCH observatory was built by emeritus professor David Chimino and was named for his parents Amelia and John Chimino. It was later donated to Michigan Technological University and is currently operated jointly between the Electrical Engineering Department and the Physics department. The observatory houses a 16" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope mounted on a Paramount ME equatorial mount. SPIE uses the observatory for education of the night sky and the optics to observe the night sky through community outreach events.

Tech Today reported on a group of Webelos' trip to the observatory on November 12, 2009.

K-12 Outreach

Five Michigan Tech SPIE student chapter members formed a committee in the spring of 2009, which was designed to present fundamental photonics/optics experiments and demonstrations to the 12th grade students in physics classes in the local high schools. Committee members include, Ron Kemker, John van der Laan, Mark Skwarski, Casey Demars, and Zhinan Wang. They visited Houghton High School and Hancock High School during the last semester, and gave presentations with the topics; the nature of light, optical lenses, lasers, optical fiber communications, liquid crystals, light polarizers, among others. More than sixty students attended the presentations. With seeing the different phenomena and participating in several photonics demonstrations themselves, students were getting very interested in discussing and learning the principles and theories behind those experiments.

In order to promote the young students interests in photonics area further, some new members were recruited to the committee; Mandy Couch, Timothy Simmons, and Ryan Helminen. After further development, the future plans include several visits to Houghton High School and the high schools in the Lake Linden, Hancock, and Baraga areas in Fall 2009 and Spring 2010 semesters. There is also a plan to expand the future presentations a bit by organizing a 12th grade student physics competition in the field of photonics and optics and field trips to the laboratories at Michigan Tech.

The Paulding Light

The MTU Student Chapter of the SPIE is interesting in exploring the local mystery know as The Paulding Light(s) as an optical phenomenon. Over the summer of 2009, several expeditions were undertaken to collect photographic data of the light in action. It is hoped that by applying modern digital processing techniques and solid analysis grounded in physical science, the true nature of the phenomenon can be properly explained. "Ripley's Believe It Or Not" once offered a bounty of $100,000 to the person or persons who could explain the origin of the light. While the reward may no longer be available, the challenge remains.

Western U.P. Science Fair

SPIE members set up a booth at the high school science fair to teach students about the science of light. For more information on the science fair, click here.