PSU Electro-Optics Center at Northpointe Wins National Award

An eight-member team at the Penn State University Electro-Optics Center at the Northpointe Industrial Park in Freeport developed a nationally-prized device to properly inspect optical devices found in night vision goggles used by soldiers. (Pictured front from left-right: Greg Helmininack, Jonathan Partee, Research Engineer Brian McIntyre, and James West back: Gary Schmiedecke, Nick Wichowski, Mark Stitt and Ken Freyvogel.)

by Jonathan Weaver

There may not be a branch campus in Armstrong County, but Penn State was recognized this month at the Northpointe Industrial Park.

Partnered with the U.S. Army and Navy team members, the University’s Electro-Optics Center received the 2010 Joint Service Value Engineering Achievement Award at the Pentagon in Washington D.C.

The Electro-Optics Center was recognized for their work on the Automated Intensifier Measurement System (AIMS), a device developed to produce faster results of optical devices found in night vision devices. The team was one of 1,000 technological entries.

Overseas, when pilots and soldiers find a faulty unit, they turn it over to a depot center, which now can only make inspections of the part to the naked eye. Through this 21-point inspection, engineers have discovered that some devices can be repaired or replaced before being disposed of, which can solve war fighters more than an estimated $15-22.5 million annually.

Classified as a five by five by five darkroom-in-a-box, the engineering team developed the unit for approximately $5.5 million.