SUNY Poly Faculty and Students Excel in Air Force Research Laboratory Fellowship Programs in All-Virtual Setting

Faculty and students from the State University of New York, including SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly), successfully engaged in multiple research programs through the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate (AFRL/RI) this summer, thanks to a robust collaboration between AFRL/RI of Rome, NY, and SUNY. The partnership established a thriving virtual research setting that enabled students and faculty to work on innovative new technologies, even amid COVID-19 precautions.

“SUNY is extremely grateful for our partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate and the experiential learning these programs bring to our faculty and students,” said Dr. Grace Wang, senior vice chancellor for research and economic development and interim president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute. “Together, we are developing next-generation scientists, engineers, and researchers, and pursuing innovation, entrepreneurship, and commercialization in areas of shared strategic interest.”

“Each summer, AFRL/RI research talents increase by almost 150 people through multiple programs that focus on recruiting both faculty and students from U.S. institutions of higher education, of which SUNY has played a critical role,” said Dr. Stanley Wenndt, academic research and outreach Lead at AFRL/RI. “This additive talent is invaluable to research, productivity, mentoring, and intellectual capital. Many publications, patents, education partnerships, and professional relationships have resulted from these collaborations. This vital collaboration with SUNY and other academic partners keeps AFRL/RI on the bleeding edge of new research trends and technology.”

“I am very thankful for the 12-week Summer Faculty Fellowship Program with the AFRL/RI,” said Dr. Carlo Cafaro, assistant professor of applied mathematics at SUNY Poly. “It gave me the opportunity to engage in online-collaborations with Dr. Paul Alsing, principal research physicist, and Dr. Shannon Ray, postdoctoral research fellow, whose work will have significant ramifications in the future of quantum science.”

“This has been an intellectually inspiring summer conducting quantum computing research in the Summer Faculty Fellowship Program at AFRL/RI,” said Dr. Chen-Fu Chiang, assistant professor of computer science at SUNY Poly. “Thanks to our gracious host, Dr. Paul Alsing, we enjoyed tremendous intellectual freedom and were able to learn about others’ advanced research.”

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, companies were faced with unprecedented decisions for their summer programs, whether it be to cancel, abbreviate, or conduct them remotely. AFRL/RI chose to go the bold route of keeping all their summer programs, which included faculty research programs, student internships, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) camps. The three programs were implemented virtually in a complementary and synergistic fashion, resulting in a well-rounded and complete summer collaboration for all participants.

SUNY and AFRL/RI kicked off an unprecedented educational partnership in 2019. The collaboration is working to develop game-changing technologies with the potential to enhance national security, promote domestic competitiveness, and accelerate new technologies to the application stage.

Three SUNY Poly faculty members and one student joined faculty and students from across SUNY who participated in multiple AFRL/RI summer research programs. This summer, SUNY and AFRL/RI had a record number of students and faculty collaborating, with 13 SUNY faculty and 13 SUNY students representing 12 different SUNY campuses. In addition, three SUNY students helped convert the AFRL/RI STEM classes to a virtual curriculum.  The goal of the AFRL/RI STEM Outreach Program is to foster a new generation of scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and technologists.

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