AFRL Inspire – 2015

The inaugural AFRL Inspire event was held Oct. 28, 2015 at the Dayton Art Institute in Dayton, Ohio. AFRL Inspire is a series of talks which seeks to energize and motivate the current and next generation of Air Force scientists and engineers.  Inspired by the popular TED Talks series, AFRL Inspire consists of presentations by AFRL researchers who have made important discoveries, solved complex technical challenges, developed new USAF capabilities, and directly impacted the safety and mission success of the warfighter.

The AFRL Inspire event series is ultimately the brainchild of Dr. Dan Berrigan, AFRL Materials Research Engineer, and Dr. Kerianne Hobbs, AFRL Aerospace Engineer.  The duo had teamed up at a development workshop to discover new and creative ways to promote an environment of autonomy, mastery, and purpose among the AFRL workforce.  They were drawn to the storytelling framework of the TED Talks series because their modern structure is a well-received method of training, and it would allow AFRL scientists and engineers to share the stories behind their amazing work.  Enjoy the talks below!


Good Engineers Save Lives | Dr. Jeff Calcaterra

Dr. Jeff Calcaterra, Air Force Research Laboratory materials engineer, discusses his team’s successes in discovering and preventing materials and process failures in Air Force aircraft and related technologies. His work helps to prevent loss of lives and aircraft and has potentially saved the Air Force millions of dollars.

Space Junk: The Unknown Orbital Iceberg

The Earth is surrounded by 22,000 objects in orbit, 1200 of which are actually functional. The rest is space junk. In this talk, Dr. Moriba Jah, Air Force Research Laboratory aerospace engineer and self-proclaimed “Space Garbage Man,” takes you into the vital world of space situational awareness. The tracking of these objects in orbit is critical to ensuring that functional satellites in orbit remain safe from collisions. Military functions and everything from GPS to ATM transactions rely on the efforts of Dr. Jah and scientists like him.

The Party Must Go On | Dr. Nandini Iyer

How is the human ear able to distinguish individual voices in a noisy and crowded room? Can scientists develop computers that can learn this skill as well? Dr. Nandini Iyer, Air Force Research Laboratory research audiologist, discusses her work in the field of Battlespace Acoustics. By using the example of a noisy cocktail party, Iyer demonstrates that, for computers, this ability to distinguish unique voices among many is not such an easy task. However, research is underway to develop such technology, as it would vastly improve battlefield communication, helping Airmen succeed in their missions while saving lives.

Fire in the Sky | Dr. Robert Fugate

Dr. Robert Fugate, retired Air Force Research Laboratory research physicist, tells the story of the 20-year long development of laser-guided adaptive optics, a technology that ignited a revolution in ground-based astronomy. Scientists and researchers are now able to view space with unprecedented clarity and accuracy, and the technology has now been implemented into all major telescopes worldwide.

Ghost Fleet | Dr. Peter W. Singer

How will the next World War be fought? And who will be the primary players? Dr. Peter W. Singer, futurist and world-recognized expert in the field of 21st century warfare, has a pretty good idea. His recent work, Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War, melds nonfiction research in emerging trends and technology with a fictional exploration of what war will be like in the future. Singer uses his novel to illustrate that the line between fact and fiction has become increasingly blurry. Peter W. Singer is Strategist and Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, founder of NeoLuddite, a technology advisory firm, the author of multiple award-winning books, and a contributing editor at Popular Science.

Better Than Lucky | “Rufus”

“Rufus” is an Air Force test pilot and fighter pilot. He shares his personal grief of losing friends and how Automatic Collision Avoidance Technology (ACAT), a groundbreaking system that automatically takes the reigns of an aircraft to avoid impending collisions, can save his life and the lives of his fellow pilots.