There's no such thing as a regular day for Corrie Smeaton. An optical engineer, she works on a wide array of projects at the Laboratory. Her favorite project so far has been building a custom optical payload for a WB-57 high-altitude aircraft, a government-sponsored project in which she was involved for several years as she saw the system through design, assembly, alignment, and testing. However, not all of her work comes to her via government sponsors. Corrie regularly works on internally funded projects that allow her to do cutting-edge research that may not yet have government or commercial applications. For one such project, she was researching computational imaging—using computer algorithms to expand the abilities of a traditional camera, such as combining multiple fields of view into one camera simultaneously and then reconstructing a single image whose field of view is much wider than that of a traditional camera.
Sometimes, her efforts aren't in research or development at all. Corrie is passionate about educational outreach, and in 2017 ran a two-day course for MIT students to introduce them to optical engineering. The course, which was put on with the help of MIT Associate Professor Kerri Cahoy and the AeroAstro Department at MIT, gave students baseline optical engineering knowledge that would help them to conduct their research effectively. The course focused on basic optical design, metrics for determining image quality, and optical system testing (interferometry). "It was really fun to go to campus and teach some basic optical engineering principles to students who had to work with optics for their research, but did not have a traditional optical engineering background," Corrie said.