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Midshipman Wins Award for High-Energy Laser Research

Posted on: January 29, 2013 08:00 EST by Jessica Clark

Naval Academy Midshipman 1st Class Andrew Tresansky, of Trenton, N.J., recently won the Directed Energy Professional Society’s 2012 award for the best undergraduate research report for his work with high-energy lasers.

Tresansky’s project addresses the effects of high-energy lasers on carbon fiber composite materials, such as those used in the production of unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Directed Energy Professional Society’s annual award goes to the best report by an undergraduate in the area of high-energy laser research. It is based on excellence of work, its pertinence to high-energy lasers and the quality of the written report.

Under the guidance of Professors Peter Joyce, Joshua Radice and Capt. Joe Watkins, Tresansky developed a computer model to predict what happens when a high-energy laser hits these materials and conducted experimentation to validate the model.

His research is highly relevant in the wake of the Office of Naval Research’s announcement last year that it aims to develop cost-effective, high-energy laser weapons. In August, the ONR began accepting industry proposals for laser weapon prototypes designed to counter unmanned aerial vehicles and small boat threats.

“This research, coupled with what I have learned in my professional lectures, makes me confident that high-energy lasers will be a part of the Navy I serve in during my career. I would like to be a part of making them more effective weapons,” said Tresansky, who will be commissioned into the submarine community in May.

A mechanical engineering major, he began working with high-energy lasers as part of the Naval Academy’s Trident Scholar program, which provides select midshipmen the opportunity to engage in independent study and research during their senior year.

He has since applied to graduate programs at Johns Hopkins and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the hope that he can continue his research in the field of high-energy lasers.

“Since I have enjoyed working on the project so much, and since it has so many future applications for the Navy, I would like to keep working on it,” he said.

The prize for best paper included travel to the society’s annual Directed Energy Education Workshop in November where Tresansky presented his paper, entitled “Numerical Modeling of Electromagnetic Radiation Effects in Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymers.”

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