Monday, July 13, 2015

Weeks 1 - 3

Although, a bit belated, I have posted my blog for the first three weeks.

WEEK 1 BLOG TOPIC:  Fluid Power Bootcamp:  Your Experience 

From what I have seen, the Fluid Power Bootcamp appeared to be highly regarding. However, I did not have the opportunity to experience the bootcamp. I had committed to a study abroad May term in Switzerland before being offered a position in the CCEFP REU program. So, I was in Switzerland during that time.

So instead, I will discuss my time in Switzerland. The trip lasted only three weeks, but to me, it seemed like a lifetime – and I mean that in the best way possible. The country is beautiful and the people are gracious. There’s something different about their culture, and the only way I can describe is that they have things figured out. Switzerland is a very small country compared to the United States. It only took about four hours to drive from Zurich to Geneva – it takes me four hours to drive home to Fargo from Minneapolis – so the country is rather small. Half of it is covered by the Alps, so that reduces the habitable amount of land that is seen on a map.

Twenty six students gathered every day in ZHAW (Zurich School of Applied Science)  in the town of Winterthur, a town about twenty minute train ride from Zurich. We created a robot out of LEGO’s that could be controlled remotely through a Raspberry Pi. Unfortunately, a few software updates made our already written code useless so the class became an intensive computer science course. However, everything I experienced on the trip has made me a much better person today. The challenge of facing a class that took a drastic turn due to uncontrollable and being in a country were ever sign was almost like gibberish to me has made me appreciate just the beauty and flow of humans. When faced with a challenge, we bonded together to tackle the problem.  The interactions I had with the natives were like any other interaction, which surprised me. Internally, I knew that I did not speak their language and did not know most of what was going on around me, but they didn’t seem to care; they treated me like anyone else. It was empowering. So overall, I am very happy that I experienced such a wonderful thing.

The beautiful city of Bern (Fun Fact: The entire city is one of UNESCO's WorldHeritage Sites, therefore the structures and facades cannot be changed)

WEEK 2 BLOG TOPIC:  Where do you see fluid power in your everyday life?

I have lived close to the Mississippi River for the last four years of my life, and the previous eight years next to the Red River. The epicenters of both towns are the shores od the river. Minneapolis literally translated means the city of waters. So, to me, there is heavy proof of the powers of fluid flow.
            Walking down by the river, the Saint Anthony Falls provide not only a beautiful view but is a source of electricity as well. The Xcel energy company has a station write next to the Saint Anthony Falls Laboratory.
Further, air, a fluid that all life form depends on, provides a huge source of power to us. Currently, I am working on a wind turbine model. Wind turbines use natural wind power and convert its mechanical energy into electrical energy. So chances are, the next time I turn on a light switch, there is a good chance that the source of the power was a fluid.

WEEK 3 BLOG TOPIC:   Your Thoughts: Research Culture and Environment 

Research is a very individualistic job. I was not expecting to be so independent all the time. In my current experience, I meet with my professor or graduate student  at least twice a week, but still, I am on my own for the most part. One thing that has surprised me the most about the research environment is the dependence on grants and incoming money.
As an undergraduate researcher, I have not had to worry about money for my work at all. However, I have witnessed graduate students and professors struggle and wait for grants in order to pursue a cool new topic.

Other than that, the research environment is everything I was expecting (at least for an undergraduate).  More of my work has been on the computer, though I hopefully will begin to experiment in the wind tunnels soon. The environment of research is very data oriented; therefore a lot of my work is on the computer. This is just the nature of the work. When I was first put into this world, I did not think that this would be the nature of the work at all. However, the longer that I am in it, the more I have come to realize the importance of having good data, and more importantly, understanding it.

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