LIFT2 Teachers at Lincoln Laboratory

Teacher internships inspire students

This year marked Lincoln Laboratory's fourth year of providing mentors as part of the Leadership Initiatives for Teaching and Technology (LIFT2) program. Two teachers, Ilana Marcus and Peter Schoonmaker, were selected for internships at the Laboratory.

Framingham High School math teacher Ilana Marcus worked with the Chemical and Biological Defense Systems Group on a robotic mapping problem in support of a Department of Defense research program. The goal of her project was to develop an algorithm to derive room dimensions from simple range-finder data. The concept of operations is that the range sensor would be placed on a robotic platform to assess suspect locations for chemical contamination. Ms. Marcus' work involved simulation of the sensor output and progressive development of the dimension-finding algorithm, starting with simple room geometries and moving toward more complex interior spaces.

Sean Winkler and Ilana Marcus Sean Winkler and teacher Ilana Marcus test a laser range-finder to be used in robotic interior room mapping.

Her mentor, Sean Winkler, found the experience to be rewarding and enjoyable.  He said, "Our research group benefitted not only from the actual product she developed, but also from the interaction. Ilana helped us build relationships with other research groups at the Laboratory that continue to serve the program well."

Peter Schoonmaker, physics teacher at Sharon High School, received an internship in the Active Optical Systems Group on the Airborne Light Detection and Ranging (Lidar) Research Testbed (ALIRT) Flight Path Planning Program, optimizing fight mission profiles for the ALIRT airborne laser radar system.  His analysis combined digital elevation models of the ground with aircraft and sensor capability limits to produce detailed flight plans that maximize the area coverage rate.

Dale Fried and Peter SchoonmakerDale Fried (left) listens as physics teacher Peter Schoonmaker (right) explains his latest software improvements.

After planning a visit to Sharon High School, Dale Fried, Schoonmaker's mentor, said, "I'm looking forward to meeting Peter’s class during my site visit; Peter and I cooked up some fun demonstrations to whet the students' appetite for science!"

Awakening enthusiasm for science in the classroom is the main point of the program in an effort to achieve its ultimate goal, more students selecting hard science or higher math as career path. Supporting the LIFT2 program is one of the many ways that Lincoln Laboratory promotes science and technology education and helps students consider a career in science and technology.

 

* Leadership Initiatives for Teaching and Technology (LIFT2) teacher externships program was run by the Massachusetts Metro South/West Regional Employment Board.

 

Updated December 2009

 

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