Principal scientist at DRS-RSTA (left) and Gunawardena pose for a picture at the competition

Photo courtesy of: Russ College of Engineering and Technology

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University engineering grad student places first in infrared video competition

A graduate student at Ohio University's Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology tied for first in the recent "See the World in Infrared 2012 Student Infrared Imaging Video Competition @ OHIO" competition.

Warnaka Gunawardena, an industrial and systems engineering master's student, will share a $1,000 award with two graduate students in the University's Physics and Astronomy department for his video on using infrared cameras with iPhones and other Apple products.

"I usually check the Russ College newsletter for competitions, and the moment when I saw the competition details, I just knew that it would be the perfect opportunity to come up with something creative," he said.

Sponsored by DRS Technologies of Dallas, the competition was hosted by the University's Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Scripps College of Communication School of Media Arts and Studies to encourage an awareness, appreciation and understanding of infrared video camera technology, and to provide an opportunity for creativity using infrared imaging video.

Ohio University was one of 13 universities in the country that held regional competitions. As part of the competition, DRS's Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition Group donated two of its tiny Tamarisk™320 thermal imaging cameras to each participating university, enabling students to develop new ways to use the camera. 

Gunawardena says his biggest challenge was starting from scratch with new software.

"I was very glad to see the production being recognized after putting that much effort into learning something new," said Gunawardena, who worked under the guidance and support of Associate Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering Diana Schwerha. "It just proved that when we engineers put our mind to even the unknown, we can still do wonders."

In April, Gunawardena also received honors as part of a team that won second place in another University contest, Athens Startup Weekend, which attracted 36 technical and business entrepreneurs seeking to develop their startup company concepts with the help of a panel of industry experts. In fall 2011, he and a team of other industrial and systems engineering students from the Russ College placed second in a national ergonomics competition sponsored by Auburn Engineers, Inc.