James Webb Space Telescope Models

A Kickstarter campaign for reduced-scale models of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)!

JWST- a NASA-European Space Agency (ESA) collaboration.

We’ve used the prototypes at NASA-sponsored events around the country, demonstrating to large groups of adults and children the complex engineering that unfolds the Space Telescope after it releases from the ESA’s rocket fairing.

We’ve decided to make these models publicly available to educators, aerospace and astronomy enthusiasts, and anyone who has interest in the engineering and science that this US-EU collaboration is creating.

Please help us by backing our project with a small donation.

Thanks very much,


The main video is entertaining (those two are my colleagues!). They’ve reached young minds everywhere!


More About It:
Eric Grosso
After graduation, I started both as an engineer working on parts of JWST, and as a mentor for a talented group of student interns working on the design and build of a 1/6 scale deployable model of JWST. This project led us to the above 1/20th and 1/40th scale models. Just to say it, I’ve never seen a university senior design project that compares to the 1/6th scale model that this group made, all while working as interns outside of their studies.

It realistically demonstrates the complex deployments JWST has and is properly scaled to the size of a medium sedan. Separated into two parts, it ships in secure crates at a weight of two tons. It has been to Johnson Space Center (JSC), Goddard Space flight Center (GSFC), Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). In October, it is being shipped to Kennedy Space Center (KSC) for nine months of public demonstration.

Each of the students who made that project great have since graduated as engineers. All but one are now my colleagues, and share the growing amount of engineering work we have on JWST.

Our Kickstarter is STEM outreach (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics). Please help by watching the three-minute video and spreading the word.

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Cluster Lunch – Impact of Proposed Export Controls

Cluster Lunch
Arizona Inn
April 20th

Presentation by
Matthew Goldstein

On the impact of proposed U.S. Export Controls on Fundamental Research and Scientific Publications

All Optics Researchers and Scientist should attend this 2 hour luncheon at the Arizona Inn on April 20.  This will be an important meeting for the Arizona Optics Industry Association (AOIA).

The Arizona Inn has reserved the following space for AOIA:

    Date           Start Time      End Time      Function         Room
4/20/2015       11:30 AM            2:00 PM             Lunch          Safari Room

We currently have only 30 seats.  The fee is $35 per person for the hot meal and presentation.  Through April 5th, AOIA’s paid up members and OSC researchers will be accepted first and then Optics related/Cluster industry members will be accepted.  On April 6th we will open it up to all scientific research fields.  Others are already asking to be in on it.  They can make room for up to 100 if we have the commitments.

Please RSVP to:  aoia@aoia.org

Presentation by
Matthew Goldstein
On the impact of U.S. Export Controls on Fundamental Research and Scientific Publications

On April 20, 2015, Matthew Goldstein, a Washington D.C. attorney with a law firm focused on international trade law, will discuss the implications of proposed changes to the scope of U.S. Export Controls on fundamental research and scientific publications.  The proposed changes, soon to be published in the Federal Register, are expected to adversely impact private and university-based research and impose significant restrictions on the right to freely publish scientific information.  The changes as proposed also would affect publications that are entirely funded by a private sector company, even if the research was independent of any Federal contract.  The focus of the discussion will be on the scope of the proposed changes, their expected impact on research and development activities, and steps that private industry and academia can take to oppose unwanted agency rule making.


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Racing the Sun

Racing the Sun
Saturday, April 25
9:00am – 3:00pm

The Racing the Sun competition captures the imaginations of high school students and challenges them over the course of the school year to work as a team to design and test basic engineering and science concepts to build a solar go-kart.

The family friendly event is open to the public and will be held at Musselman Honda Circuit located at 11800 S. Harrison Road, Tucson, AZ 85747

For tickets and additional details visit https://racingthesun2015.eventbrite.com


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2015 International Year of Light

The United Nations has proclaimed 2015 the International Year of Light.

IYL2015 is a global initiative adopted by the United Nations to raise awareness of how optical technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications and health.

More information here:  http://www.light2015.org/Home.html


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St. Michael’s School Science Challenge Celebrates Light!

Our Tenth Annual Science Challenge – Focus on Optics
February 19, 2015

Did you know that the United Nations has proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light?

Each year the United Nations designates an entire 365-day-long period as an “international year.”  The year 2015 has been designated as the International Year of Light. “This celebration of light-based technology and art aims for a global impact at all levels of society.”  (Optics and Photonics News, Jan. 2015) By chance, this coincides with St. Michael’s School’s ten-year anniversary of its Science Challenge – Focus on Optics.

The Science Challenge is designed specifically for fourth and fifth graders.  Children in these grades will have the opportunity to learn about and “play” with light.  During this event, students will be challenged to create a circuit that will uniformly light three bulbs, to build a light-house that will have an LED bulb at the apex, and to hit a target with a laser gun via a mirror.  All this is aimed to make science, especially optical science so important in our Tucson community, real for these children.

The event, Science Challenge – Focus on Optics, is put on each year at St. Michael’s School in conjunction with the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) at the University of Arizona, which supplies the targets, laser guns, and adult supervision. Participation in this event is free and open to teams of two, both of whom must be current fourth or fifth graders.  The Science Challenge will take place on Thursday, February 19, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at St. Michael’s School, 602 N.  Wilmot Rd. For more information or to register, call 722-8478 or go to www.stmichael.net and click on “Register for Science Challenge” on the banner at the top.

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Frontiers in Optics 2014 Tucson, Arizona

Frontiers in Optics

Tucson, Arizona

October 19 – 23, 2014

Frontiers in Optics (FiO) 2014 is The Optical Society’s (OSA) 98th Annual Meeting and is being held together with Laser Science’s (LS) 30th annual meeting of the American Physical Society (APS) Division of Laser Science (DLS). The two meetings unite the OSA and APS communities for five days of quality, cutting-edge presentations, fascinating invited speakers and a variety of special events spanning a broad range of topics in optics and photonics—the science of light—across the disciplines of physics, biology and chemistry.

The vibrant FiO exhibit floor features more than 60 leading optics companies and further enhances this internationally recognized meeting. Sunny Tucson, AZ, USA hosts the 2014 meeting and is OSA’s second stop on its journey to celebrating 100 years in 2016. Next up is San Jose in 2015 and Rochester, NY, USA in 2016.

The event will be held at:

The Tucson JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort

Information about the event is available at this link:



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The Art of Space and Light

The Art of Space and Light
International Association of Astronomical Artists (IAAA)

  • Gala Opening / Meet the Artists – Fri., Nov. 14, 2014, 7pm to 10pm
  • Artwork on exhibit:  November 14 – December 30, 2014.

3202 E. First Street, Tucson
Open to the public

Next year marks the International Year of Light or IYL 2015, an observance by the United Nations to aim awareness of the achievements of light science and its applications, and its importance to humankind.  IAAA (iaaa.org) aims to focus on the importance of Cosmic Light, reaching beyond life on Earth.  IAAA members implement and participate in astronomical and space art to promote education about space.  They foster international cooperation with other artists world-wide in order to gain inspiration though paintings and the exploration of themes of the Universe.

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College of Optical Sciences Receives $10 Million, Largest Gift for Scholarships in UA History

The University of Arizona’s world-renowned College of Optical Sciences has received a $10 million gift for graduate student scholarships, setting a new precedent as the largest gift towards any scholarship in the University’s history.

Professor Emeritus James C. Wyant — who is well-known throughout the optics industry for his academic and professional society leadership, profound expertise and establishment of several commercial enterprises — made this gift in celebration of the college’s 50th anniversary.

“Jim Wyant’s leadership has been remarkable, and the College of Optical Sciences is a major point of pride for the University of Arizona,” said UA President Ann Weaver Hart. “Jim’s gift provides fantastic opportunities for our students to excel in their studies and to conduct the kind of ground-breaking research that is certain to impact all of our lives.”

Click here to read full story.


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UofA Optical Sciences Presentation: Electro-Optical Sensors 1-22-2014


University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences

JANUARY 22, 2014

3:45 – 5:00 pm

Conf. Room 821

1630 E. University Blvd.


DAVID A. THOMAS, PhD – Engineering Consultant

MALCOLM PANTHAKI – Comet Solutions, Founder & Chief Technology Officer



The design and construction of Electro-Optical (EO) sensors require the combined efforts of a variety of engineering disciplines, each having specialized expertise and each working with specialized tools. We have developed a COTS Model Based System Engineering (MBSE) software environment that allows small teams of lead discipline engineers to work in a more collaborative fashion than has previously been possible by sharing CAD and CAE results across discipline boundaries in a robust way. The primary focus of our initial development efforts has been the efficient evaluation of Structural/Thermal/Optical (STOP) effects in optical sensors at a high degree of engineering fidelity.

This talk will start with a discussion of what we mean by MBSE as applied to EO sensor design and provide examples of how it has been applied in two different sensor projects. We will conclude with a real time demonstration of the MBSE environment as it was used in these projects to illustrate the operation and features of the environment and the benefits derived from working in this manner.

Bio – David Thomas

David Thomas holds a PhD in Optical Sciences from the University of Arizona and has over 30 years of experience as an optical engineer of space borne EO sensors for NASA and National Security Space applications. His research interest for the past 15 years has been concurrent design of optical systems and the development of a new Model Based System Engineering (MBSE) software environment for enabling that work to be conducted more effectively.

Bio- Malcolm Panthaki

Malcolm Panthaki holds a Master’s degree in Structural Engineering and Computer Graphics from Cornell University. He has over 25 years of experience developing simulation environments whose main purpose is to make engineering analysis more effective in the design of complex systems. At Abaqus Inc., he led the architecture and design of the Abaqus/CAE environment. He founded Comet Solutions, Inc. in 2001, and provided the vision and architecture for the Comet MBSE Workspace. Comet facilitates effective multi-physics, multi-fidelity analyses of complex systems in a collaborative team environment.


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CBS This Morning Show – How Bad is Light Pollution?

CBS This Morning Show – November 30, 2013

Light pollution is an ever-growing problem that is blocking out the night sky in major cities, obscuring all but the moon and a few bright stars and planets. Bob Parks, executive director of the International Dark Sky Association joins “CBS This Morning: Saturday” to discuss what can be done to combat this growing problem.

Click this link to view the November 30, 2013 show:  CBS This Morning Show – How Bad is Light Pollution?

A prior CBS show on Light Pollution, June 27, 2012 can be viewed at:  The Costs of Light Pollution


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