This summer I conducted research on the characterization of sea ice during its growth phase at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP). I found the exchange experience to be very rewarding, not solely for the exposure to academia and the research process, but also for the sense of collegiality shared among the department’s many interns, PhD students, post-docs and professors, and for the opportunity to explore a new corner of the globe.
During my stay in Cambridge, I worked under Dr. Jerome Neufeld (EngSci 0T1, Physics). My work was centered around designing an experiment to measure the permeability of sea ice in its nascent form in order to inform current models of sea ice drainage, and mushy layer phenomena in general. Modelling sea ice growth is important for our understanding of the Earth’s carbon cycle, and the polar ice caps’ role in the Earth’s climate. The research was intensive both theoretically and experimentally, requiring a broad, in-depth understanding of engineering concepts, including heat transfer, fluid dynamics, and signal processing, as well as an iterative, academic approach towards a final experimental procedure. I grew familiar with the equipment and techniques of a fluid dynamics laboratory, and became well-versed in common scientific software, such as MATLAB, and LabVIEW.
This was my second international research exchange to date – I conducted research in scanning tunneling microscopes at the National University of Singapore during the summer of 2013 – and I have benefited tremendously from these opportunities. I strongly believe that every Engineering Science student should take advantage of our research abroad program. From applying one’s accumulated knowledge base, to challenging oneself to understand new topics; from playing cricket for the first time, to riding gondolas through the Venetian canals; from joining one of the oldest academic communities in the world, to pushing the boundaries of today’s academic understanding, these are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that are not to be missed.