Innovation Day Open House Draws a Crowd

Employees test virtual reality at the EPIC open house. (Photo: Elisa Haber)

Hundreds of Aerospace employees trooped through the Exploration, Prototype, and Innovation Center (EPIC) on June 21, where they viewed demonstrations of cutting-edge innovative projects being developed at Aerospace.

The audience was augmented by a contingent of media that included representatives of the Los Angeles Times, Channel 2 (CBS), Channel 9 (KCAL), Channel 7 (ABC), and a space blogger.

“What you’re seeing is where the next big ideas in space are coming from,” said Dr. Randy Villahermosa, executive director of Innovation, gesturing at the exhibits that filled the first floor of the Lauritsen Library, where EPIC is housed.

Villahermosa later introduced Aerospace President and CEO Steve Isakowitz, who spoke briefly about the intent of EPIC and his hopes for its future.

“Today is a big day; it marks a milestone in our effort to amplify all the innovation we’re doing at Aerospace,” said Isakowitz. He noted that the EPIC space is set up physically to be open and allow for a collaborative environment, where people can exchange ideas on an informal basis when they happen to see each other.

The exhibits and demonstrations included a sensor that will be placed on the International Space Station to study a phenomenon called “airglow” that can be used for Earth observation; the Brane Craft super-thin spacecraft concept; augmented and virtual reality; the Sextant concept for timing and navigation to back up GPS; and the MarsDrop exploration capsule.

The drone takeover demonstration was held in a radio signal-proof tunnel. (Photo: Elisa Haber)

The most enthusiastic visitors donned hard hats and safety glasses for a drone takeover exhibition by Kyle Logue and Jared Dulmage that took place in a tunnel beneath the Aerospace campus.

A running theme throughout many of the demonstrations was using existing technology or modifying existing technology to accomplish something new in a relatively inexpensive manner for the end user.

Nehal Desai and Ron Fitzgerald, for example, demonstrated a program they called Real Time Interrogation of Data through Language (RIDL) that allows analysts to ask questions, find data, and present information using commercial equipment such as Amazon’s Alexa (and the background program developed by Desai and Fitzgerald).