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To The Stratosphere!
EECS cadets of the Amateur Radio Club teamed with the D/Physics astronomy club to build a balloon and a cool electronic instrument package that reached well into the stratosphere - an altitude of at least 80,000 feet. Check out the video!
Design and testing of the instrument package was more than a year's work! Two cameras, a GPS, a radio transmitter, and a couple of science experiments were mounted in a carefully insulated container to resist the -55F temperatures at the base of the stratosphere where it would have to survive.
Luckily a small transmitter was enough to track the high-flying balloon. A radio network operated by radio amateurs worldwide meant the signal needed only to reach the nearest of many stations. Records showed that well over 10 received telemetry messages from the balloon and relayed them to West Point, where a server posted them to a map on the Internet.
The chase team dialed into the map with their mobile phones and managed to stay just behind as the balloon flew an overland distance of over 15 miles, dragged by brisk winds up to about 40,000 feet. A river and an airport along the path made for an interesting navigation problem!
Above is a 3d picture of the path. Click for a full size version.
The balloon made a safe landing with the instrument package in perfect shape - part of the video action - in a parking lot in Newburgh, New York. Shown to thMike Strasser's excellent article for Pointer View.

Summer Internship Bumper Crop
Never before have so many traveled so far to do so much cool stuff in one summer with EECS! In all, 95 cadets participated with the help of EECS partners in the Department of Defense, Army, and commercial industry to work on some life-changing projects for soldiers and people of all walks, involving some of the coolest technology in the world.
Destinations included dozens of cities and Army posts throughout the continental US plus Beijing China, Tunis, Tunisia, Fairbanks, Alaska, London, England, and Munich, Germany.
Cadets enhanced and built flying and ground robots, worked on national-level cyber security problems, produced software currently being used for follow-on research and operations, evaluated alternative supercomputers, learned how Army training simulations work, built iPhone applications with Army impact, and many, many more fascinating activities.
Of course not all was work. Just about every sponsor took care to ensure cadets had a chance to learn about and enjoy their surroundings, as many of the photos show.
A few notable quotes from cadets...
  • "Specifically, I worked with microcontrollers and sensors, and wrote programs to upload onto the microcontrollers. Overall, my experience was invaluable, the location was great, the people I had the opportunity to work with were amazingly helpful and supportive, and I had a great time..."
    Cdt. Antonia Allen
  • "Working with the Tunisian students was of great value to me... I learned a lot about patience and thinking of innovative ways to communicate."
    Cdt. Thomas Deavila
  • "I was ... working to integrate a high-speed data link onto a Global Hawk [long range unmanned recon aircraft]... I was given all the resources needed and a number of subject matter experts to consult."
    Cdt. Thomas Dean
  • "We found we were working with a small electrical engineering company with no more than 12 people on their staff. They were extremely courteous, and, while the average age was not above 30 years old, all top notch scientists in their field. I saw ... what goes on behind the scenes to make products easier to use and better "
    Cdt. Paul Baker
  • Go EECS! See the world!

    Go Forth And Do Great Things, 2010!
    [ Photo Album ]
    On a beautiful Thursday afternoon of graduation week, cadets with family and other loved ones gathered with EECS faculty and friends to celebrate the Class of 2010 final semester's achievements.
    Good colleagues, good food, great day!
    Each graduate received the EECS coin to acknowledge their dedicated work to reach the goal of graduation with an accredited EECS major - Information Technology, Computer Science, or Electrical Engineering.
    Many awards for outstanding performance capped a great celebration. Shown here, soon-to-be-Second Lieutenant Tiffany Taylor accepts a "best in course" award from Col. Bob Sadowski.
    Godspeed Class of 2010! We'll miss you...
    ...and wait your return to the faculty!

    2010 - A Projects Odyssey
    Projects Day for the 2010 set a new standard for cadet accomplishment.
    See our photo album of displays in progress.
    With finished products including...
  • Intelligent Load Management System - a "smart grid" home or office electricity usage control system to keep consumption lean and green.
  • Project STARS - an auto-piloted aerial reconnaissance vehicle with virtual reality downlink.
  • Bionic Foot - a prosthetic lower leg with an electron - a very snoopy software system that takes educated guesses about encryption schemes being used to encode information flowing through an electonic network.
  • Black Knight - West Point's first satellite, to be ready for earth orbit launch no later than 2012.
  • Brigade Personnel Management and Training Database - Applying cutting edge IT concepts to the problems of Army unit leadership and management.
  • Demon Eye (Target Location Module) - combining several technologies to let soldiers pinpoint the coordinates of anything they can see on the battlefield.
  • CheapBot II - an ingenious $300 mighty robotic mite that tumbles wherever it's thrown, figures out which way is up, and sends back TV images as its driver maneuvers with a Playstation remote.
  • ...many more just as cool.
  • ... it was hard for the panel of distinguished visiting judges to choose winners. Final results will be celebrated at the Class of 2010 Graduation Celebration Lunch coming soon. Stay tuned!
    One victory is certain! Demon Eye has won the West Point Clark Award. The Scott R. Clark (USMA 1985) Innovation for Soldiers Award is an Academy-level award established in 2009 to recognize one cadet design team for an innovative approach to solving a problem of direct application to the Army. The winner is selected by a team of judges who evaluate the finalists on West Point's Projects Day. This year, Team DemonEye, consisting of cadets Derek Wales, George Hopkins and John Eischer, won this award. DemonEye is a position location system designed to provide precise location and target information to soldiers on the battlefield. It integrates a laser range finder, digital compass, and global positioning system to calculate a target location given a soldier's location and the distance and bearing to the target.
    First decade, second millennium - EECS mission complete!