Amidst the scorching sun of the Starr Pass scientists are bustling in the Marriot Hallways preparing for their talks, arranging their schedules for the day, or networking with their colleagues. You can feel the energy vibrating in the air (literally!).
The highlight of the day was most definitely the exhibit hall, where companies and organizations set up flashing booths with demonstrations, brochures, and fun giveaways for the attendees. The real objective of the exhibits, beyond just promoting commercial products or software solutions, is to get some face time with the company representatives and see who is behind the products.
Today, the Newport Corporation booth had a particularly entertaining feature! It was an optical alignment challenge that allowed two participants to test who could align an autocollimator quicker using the tip and tilt screws on a mirror. Doesn’t sound too difficult right? But there is a twist! The image of the laser on the detector will zoom in as time progresses, so your laser spot will jump around when you’re trying to align it with the center of a reticle. The objective is to align the laser spot with the center of the reticle faster than your opponent. According to James Fisher, VP of Newport Corporation, the current record is 7 seconds by a Newport representative.
I went head to head on this challenge against Charles Gaugh, Managing Director at the Optics System Group in California. The young and reckless (me) versus the hands of experience (Mr.Gaugh); needless to say, Mr. Gaugh gave me a lesson on alignment finishing in only 20 seconds, whereas it took me a painstaking 60 seconds. It was an exhilarating challenge that showcases one of the most basic skills in optical engineering: the alignment of a system using simple tip and tilt controls in mirrors. This serves to show how we can make laboratory lessons into thrilling competitions that serve to underline fundamental skills in Optics and Photonics.
Posted: 10/22/2014 2:42:24 AM by
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