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This site was created as a portal to Dr. John A. Gilbert. Professor Emeritus at UAHuntsville.


Research and Development

The following paragraphs describe a brief history of my involvement in research at UAH and the efforts of some of the students that worked with me on thesis and/or dissertation research.  I have several other topics that I would like to pursue and am open to your suggestions for working together on a project of mutual interest.  I hope to hear from you soon. Thanks!

John A. Gilbert - john.gilbert@uah.edu

History: Although the University of Alabama in Huntsville had been involved in optics education for many years before I came here, the founding of its Center for Applied Optics (CAO) in May 1985 marked the beginning of a major increase in optics emphasis.  Shortly after I arrived, I established an optics laboratory in the engineering building.  This 2,000 square foot facility included four separate laboratories and one darkroom.  I used the laboratory to develop new, non-destructive, non-contact, laser-based testing methods in the areas of experimental mechanics and applied optics.  A portion of the complex (one of the four labs) was designed to teach optical techniques for stress analysis.

In 1986, our UAH president and the CAO director approached me with their plans for expanding the optics initiative and asked me to make a pitch to Congressman Bevill along these lines.  During a presentation made mostly by my students, we pointed out why our existing facilities were somewhat inadequate (vibration problems, water surges, power surges, etc.) and laid out global plans for a proposed expansion.

The proposal for our optics building was submitted to Washington in January 1987.  The photo shown below was taken in my laboratories and appeared on the front cover.  After generating $14 million dollars, we began construction in 1990-91.

Since then, the facilities that I built and maintain there have allowed my students and me to introduce new concepts in optical metrology ranging from holographic/fiber optic recording, real-time moire interferometry, ultra-low frequency holography, shadow speckle metrology, and radial metrology, to photoelastic fiber-optic sensing, and diffractive optic interferometry.

 In 1999, I introduced the STARS concept (strategically tuned absolutely resilient structures) and established additional laboratories in the West Wing of Tech Hall for research in composite materials.  It gives me great pleasure to tell you a little about some of these efforts.

David Alldredge was an MAE student employed by Boeing.  He worked with Dr. Cole of MSFC/NASA, Dr. Ashley of MICOM, and me to refine our collaborative work in the area of diffractive optic interferometry. The technique was recently developed by one of my graduate students and me.  It is the only technique that I know of that can be used to measure three components of displacement, simultaneously.  Remarkably, we have shown that this can be done with variable sensitivity over twice the range of the most sensitive methods currently used to measure in-plane and out-of-plane displacement: moirť interferometry and holographic interferometry.  I expect Davidís efforts to revolutionize the way that measurements are made in optical metrology.

Timothy Barnett was a CEE student working with me to develop a panoramic detection system for collision avoidance and traffic control.  He was employed by the City of Huntsville as their senior traffic engineer, is the past-president of our local ASCE Branch, and a professional contact member for our ASCE student chapter.

Paul Bookout was an MAE student employed by NASA.  He worked with me in the area of structural analysis. Paul did a statistically generated weighted curve fit of residual functions for modal analysis of structures. The tools that he developed aided in design and analysis of products.

Jeffrey Lindner was a CEE student who worked with me in the area of modal analysis.  We developed some of the most powerful optical diagnostic tools in the world and have published and presented our work on numerous occasions.  Experiments that we conducted on components designed for the SSME have been featured on the cover of Experimental Techniques.  We were invited to present our findings at a recent International Congress on Experimental Mechanics and our efforts were very well received.

Heru Santoso was a physics student that developed a panoramic projection system under my direction.  The other members of his thesis committee, consisting of fellow colleagues from the college of science, were favorably impressed by his thesis presentation and Heru received and accepted a very lucrative job offer from Corning..

Robert Vaughan was an aerospace engineer who worked with me in the area of advanced composite materials while on dissertation leave from MSFC/NASA.  His efforts are stellar and complement other ongoing efforts to develop embedded information systems; and, strategically tuned, absolutely resilient structures (STARS).  His work laid the groundwork for the further development of STARS, and this has resulted in some of the most significant contributions of my academic career.

Ehan Weech was a CEE student who successfully developed a stereoscopic imaging system that can be used to locate and contour objects surrounding it.  He conducted an uncertainty analysis and refined a calibration procedure with structured targets in an effort to successfully complete his work.

I am also working with a number of other undergraduate and graduate students on a variety of projects related to everything from independent study to student chapter activities.

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