Project Name

Brief Project Description

Project Goals

Community Benefit


OpenQuantum aims to provide an open-source, low cost hardware and software platform for quantum information experiments, using ultracold atoms. The end goal of OpenQuantum is two-fold: to enable hackers to quickly set up their own cost-effective platform for quantum information, and to provide kits to high schools and universities to allow these institutions to provide a more comprehensive and hands-on quantum science education to their students.

Quantum mechanics was (arguably) the most exciting scientific discovery of the 20th century, and over the last few decades, our understanding has become mature enough such that we are now able to leverage quantum effects for practical applications. The quantum communications, sensing, and computing markets are all growing extremely rapidly, with compound annual growth rates north of 30%. Moreover, unlike the majority of traditional software development, these technologies will significantly and permanently change the way in which we communicate, interface with our environment, and understand the fundamental laws of our universe.

The quantum devices of the future will depend on the precise engineering of quantum effects, and a deep understanding of the underlying theory is paramount to the development of these applications. Yet despite this explosive growth, the idea of quantum science remains a novelty in the eye of the public. Quantum science is often used colloquially as a metaphorical device for something overly complicated or difficult to understand, and is studied seriously only by university students in chemistry and physics (and even then only in the later years of their education). Even the majority of universities do not provide adequate quantum-centric labs to their STEM undergraduates – at best, students are able to perform one of the old canonical quantum experiments, such as Millikan’s oil drop or the Stern-Gerlach experiment. While important, none of these experiments provide students with an understanding of how quantum information can and will be used as a central feature of future technologies.

OpenQuantum aims to provide an open-source, low cost platform for quantum information experiments, using ultracold atoms. Tangibly, OpenQuantum will initially consist of a detailed guide on how to construct a magneto-optical trap for ultracold atoms. The magneto-optical trap is a (Nobel prize winning!) apparatus that allows for the precise control and manipulation of atoms cooled to less just a millionth of a degree above absolute zero. This then allows for these cold atoms to be trapped by lasers and used as individual of quanta of matter by leveraging their spin states (e.g. by ‘encoding’ the ground state of the atom as a “0” and any excited state as a “1”), which means that a wide variety of quantum information experiments can be run using this platform. This apparatus is straightforward in principle, consisting of two subsystems: a small optical system and a vacuum chamber. However, there are various implementation details that add a high level of complexity and challenge to the build process, which we will be documenting in depth.

Specifically, the OpenQuantum open-source project will include full CAD models, machining guides, circuit schematics, EAGLE PCB layouts, Gerber files, microcontroller firmware, and control software. It will also provide guides on how to run experiments with a magneto-optical trap, such as trapping an array of cold atoms, entangling two atoms into a Bell pair, or constructing an atomic mirror. Subsequently, I will manufacture multiple kits and provide them to a select few educational institutions at cost or for free. If the project gains traction, then I will also provide pre-fabbed parts (similar to OpenBCI) to further reduce the difficulty in getting started with the platform.

The end goal of OpenQuantum is two-fold. The first is to enable hackers to quickly set up their own cost-effective platform for quantum information, leading to a community of ‘quantum-enabled’ hackers that can independently develop new technologies, experiments, and theories, external to academia and large industry monoliths. Much like the popular and successful OpenBCI platform, this open-source hardware platform would allow a much wider hobbyist and entrepreneur community to participate in cutting-edge scientific and engineering progress. These opportunities are currently restricted to a relatively small group of individuals working at wealthy academic labs or quantum initiatives at large corporations such as Google and IBM. Employment is typically only offered to those with a PhD (or those pursuing it), which only further limits the number of individuals who can pursue these endeavors. OpenQuantum would provide pre-fabricated resources and detailed tutorials to anyone, regardless of background, education level, location, etc.

The second goal is to supply complete kits to high schools and universities that would allow them to provide a modern hands-on education in quantum science and information to upcoming generations of students. For many people in STEM, studying theory is tedious and perhaps even boring, and concepts are difficult to grasp without tangible examples. This is particularly true for quantum mechanics, which requires students to cast aside their intuitive understanding of the world and try to accept a set of principles which are invisible in everyday life. Thus, it is even more important to provide students with a set of concrete demonstrations of these theories. And unlike the canonical set of ‘quantum experiments’, these demonstrated effects are being actively used in emerging devices and therefore have much more relevance to the education of engineering students.

As a former software engineer at Salesforce and Dropbox, I have extensive experience with version control software, writing documentation, and designing products to be used effectively by other engineers. As a graduate student at Columbia University, I have worked for a year and a half in the Ultracold Atomic Physics lab (, where I picked up the domain knowledge to undertake this endeavor. Additionally, I was part of a team that designed a quantum science laboratory course for Columbia, which has been successful to the point of being over-enrolled every semester it is offered.

OpenQuantum will benefit the community in two ways: it will enable hackers to quickly set up their own cost-effective platform for quantum information, and it will provide resources and guidance to high schools and universities to allow these institutions to provide a more comprehensive and hands-on quantum science education to their students. Through this, OpenQuantum will both enable a much larger entrepreneurial community to develop quantum technologies, and provide critical (and currently lacking) educational resources to the next generations of scientists and engineers.

We will measure impact by the number of downloads we achieve on build files, the number of people who successfully replicate the project, and the number of educational institutions that adopt the platform into their lab courses. These impacts will ideally occur globally.

George Hendrickson’s Research Team: Network Vulnerabilities in Embedded Devices and Classroom Forensics Lab Development

Ring home security devices, including the doorbell and allied peripheral devices, are ubiquitous in current society. However, we assert that very little has been understood about the vulnerabilities faced by these devices. In this proposal, we seek to study the very popular Ring home security system, with the goal of analyzing and modeling its network traffic. We will attempt to show that such a Ring system can be used to gather information on its owner without their knowledge or consent; and we will determine the likelihood that the device is collecting data on behalf of its manufacturer. Target artifacts include the date and time the homeowner enters/ leaves their home; whether a triggered detection device contacts an outside server or just the hub device, and if so, what data it sends; and the feasibility of decrypting (if necessary) and monitoring such traffic from outside the system. Additionally, we anticipate being able to turn the product of this research activity into several high-quality, classroom and lab assignments for students of multiple levels to give them practical, hands-on experience in digital forensics and network security which is also relatable and exciting. To this end, our proposal seeks funding to investigate a very popular, common home security system and to develop teaching and learning activities for undergraduate and graduate students.

To study the communication protocols on both the primary and the inter-device Ring network, we begin by compromising the network communications of the Ring system and embedded devices. Identifying vulnerabilities in these systems establishes a baseline and serves as a scaffold for further network exploitation. For the classroom component of our project, we plan to create a practical guide to network exploitation on a generic embedded device via a series of labs. This will teach students both network forensics skills and good investigative practice. We will first begin the data gathering process by creating a lab environment where the Ring devices and their behavior can be monitored without interference. The devices will be connected and set up on a private hotspot network where every network factor can be controlled. We will conduct initial analysis using Wireshark and NetworkMiner on a laptop using a promiscuous wireless network interface controller. We anticipate likely needing to decrypt some network packets, followed by testing what the triggering of each sensor and monitor in the Ring set causes the hub device to do. Once we have a clear understanding and working model for the behavior of the Ring system on the protected network, we will then analyze the protocol behind Amazon Sidewalk, a shared p2p low-bandwidth network that helps devices like Ring communicate with other devices in the Amazon family. As to our classroom lab development, each experiment undertaken will be documented and converted into a dedicated classroom lab activity for use in DFSC 1316 and DFSC 2316 (our introductory Digital Forensics course series).

Students who want to find work in the digital world will almost invariably have to create research to supplement their credentials as they seek employment or graduate school acceptance. Beginning one’s own research is daunting, largely because from finding a topic to practicing effective methodology, there is little to no preparation for students who choose to attempt it. Our lab project will enable students to cheaply and, if need be, independently conduct their own elementary digital forensics research using a prescribed formula, toolkit, and results database. They will learn hands-on the kind of digital forensics techniques required to effectively investigate a device for vulnerabilities, as well as creating a mindset of independent thinking invaluable for a researcher trying to break new ground. Additionally, the experience of recreating the research and the questions raised by the lab will serve as a solid point from which students can begin conducting their own research and advancing the field. In these ways, our project will make research accessible and exciting to new students of computing rather than daunting and off-putting, and therefore will contribute to the continual growth of the field of digital forensics.

Mycelium Open Source Smart Trash Can

We will design and release the to build an open source trash can capable of identifying and sorting trash from recyclables.

We build a trashcan capable of identifying and sorting trash from recyclables. Once we get the final design working, we will release the designs open source so others can not only build them freely, but possibly improve on the designs.

Once the designs and documentation are released open source on GitHub, we will be able to track statistics, such as the number of downloads, as well as interact with community on the content through comments etc. In order to get feedback.

By potentially increasing the rate of recycling, and reducing the resulting pollution in the environment, we can benefit not just people, but literally all living things.

STEM Club Ohio Fairfield Compass Elementary

The mission of STEM club is to create an after school STEAM Makerspace to empower students to ask thought-provoking questions inspired by inquiry and curiosity. This space will allow students to explore and create solutions to real world problem while connecting with the Fairfield community.

The after-school STEM Club is for students at Compass Elementary in Fairfield City Schools. The club is meant to inspire inquiry and curiosity in students.  The club is a place for students to design, build, test, and improve projects. It also provides hands-on opportunities that reinforce classroom curriculum.  Currently, we have been completing engineering projects within a classroom.  We would like to expand the program to include activities in a Makerspace environment.  Activities such as construction, coding, 3D printing, robotics, and artificial intelligence projects will be available. Students will use the design thinking process to create solutions to real world problems. 

As more jobs are automated and careers change to include more problem solving and robotic activities, we need to bring programming, designing, and robotics to our elementary schools with students and families who have no other options for STEM education.  By introducing students to STEM based activities early, we hope to inspire their curiosity and desire to find STEM careers later in life.

This project will be a model for the five other elementary schools in the Fairfield City School district, with the goal of it being replicated there. This STEM club gives the students skills that will make them more employable to meet labor demands in the local community. The STEM club will impact the local, regional, and national community by giving access and exposure to the underserved, thus giving them skills and knowledge needed to pursue careers in STEM. The STEM Club, in collaboration with local businesses, will identify problems, and students will use the Makerspace and design thinking process to share solutions back to the community. This approach will impact the local community by making the students  an integral part of the community.