The Air Force Academy celebrated its biggest brains last week by recognizing cadet and faculty contributions to its $40 million research program.
The academy has long been known as one of the nation’s top undergraduate research schools, with cadets designing everything from newfangled drones to a gooey paste that can work as body armor. If anything, the latest crop of cadet research is even more advanced.
Academy dean of faculty Brig. Gen Andrew Armacost said research at the school isn’t so much work for the cadets as it is really incredibly complicated play.
“There’s amazing joy in the process we follow to get there,” he said.
Finding there on a map may be difficult for the uninformed. Take cadet Ernest Alvino. He invented a new chemical chain that could make airplanes resistant to ice and lasers.
Grace Skidmore figured out how translations of Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov could be used to influence international relations between the rival nations. There’s apparently much more to Nabokov’s “Lolita” than sexual obsessions.
“It proved what a bridge between cultures literature can be,” Skidmore said of her research.
Cadet Diana Myers worked with the National Defense University to invent methods of making war that come with more impact and fewer casualties. She said the mind-bending work taught her about more than military policy.
“As a cadet, there are a lot of things I don’t understand still,” she said.
If the other cadets seem painfully smart, you haven’t met cadet James Brahm.
He got a patent for inventing a new method of making quantum computers go faster. Quantum computing is tough enough to wrap you head around — imagine if all the accumulated knowledge of humanity could be stuffed into a cellular phone without using data.
Brahm’s invention could lead to artificial intelligence, letting your cellphone give you driving directions before you know where you’re going.
“It’s the next wave,” he explained. “Something that will be out there in the next few decades.”
While those cadets might make your forehead throb, Armacost says there’s more to come.
“These are characteristics we expect all of our officers to possess,” he said.
Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240 Twitter: @xroederx