STEM Guest of Honor: Dr. Stephen Granade
Dr. Stephen Granade is a physicist who specializes in sensors for (and against!) robotic vehicles. His current research involves sensors to track small drones prior to neutralizing them.
He has worked on devices that can read your fingerprint from 10 feet away, systems that let unpiloted helicopters land automatically, and a video-based sensor that helped guide the Space Shuttle to the Hubble Space Telescope.
If you’re afraid of the robot revolution, Dr. Granade is probably someone to watch out for. He also worked with NASA on the Advanced Video Guidance Sensor (AVGS), which measures the distance from a spacecraft to a target satellite so that the spacecraft can dock gently with the satellite. When AVGS was first tested on orbit as part of the Demonstration of Autonomous Rendezvous Technology mission, the sensor guided the spacecraft right to the satellite, where the two promptly collided. This worried NASA but made the Department of Defense very interested.
His PhD research was on trapping and cooling neutral atoms to nearly absolute zero by using really powerful lasers, vacuum systems, and a fair amount of Mountain Dew. During that research he only set fire to himself once, shocked himself twice, and still has two working eyes. He was most recently seen on NASA’s Unexplained Files, and has won awards for presentations to non-scientist audiences.