Friday, July 9, 2010

Reflections after a successful trip

I would like to say that the what was accomplished on this project far outweighed any issues that came about for me in travel. Even though I arrived one day after everyone else I still feel like my expectations were greatly surpassed on this project. From trouble shooting skills to Norwegian culture and education system I never expected to learn so much. On the first day I arrived we toured a ship that NTNU uses for a mobile classroom and it was amazing to see how much the university values the hands on experience and how the ship is used for educational purposes.I feel that the group that we had on the project worked so well together and each person contributed and benefited from one another. Below is a picture of some of the group in the tent that we put up to stay out of the rain when we were at the field station. Even though there was rain part of the time we were still able to get all of the work done with the help of the portable shelter. There was power in the tent as well through a car battery and a generator.
After our first run with the IVER undulating in the fjord we made a rough graph of the data with excel and Kasper was very happy with the results. He was originally worried about the resolution of the sensor, but after the first data set came in he knew it was not a problem. This was very uplifting for everyone and made us all very motivated to get more data that could be as good as the first run. Our motivation was shown by staying late into the night at the field station adding to the number of our late night endeavors.
After all of the runs we had many data sets to work with and a lot of analysis to do. All of that is currently being worked on and the results will hopefully be ready shortly.
Lastly I would like to thank everyone that participated in the project especially our Norwegian and Danish partners because without them we would have not had such a rewarding project. I can't forget about Jane and Chris who put together this amazing project which enhanced our education immensely. I can't wait to hear about the next students and read the blog that they create.

Post Trip Reflection

First of all I'd like to thank all of the ICEX team and our Norwegian counterparts for putting together a truly special experience. Great job everyone!

View from the short hike.

Wow...what an experience. European culture, cutting-edge engineering, new friends, old friends, and robots! Who could ask for more? This trip really did have a bit of everything. First it was the sad news of Frank missing the flight, then it was the sheer beauty of Norway, and finally the great results we obtained from our experiments. When I first joined the team back at the beginning of the year there is no way I could have predicted all of the happenings of this program. Yet that is what it was all about. It was about dealing with the logistics of international collaboration. It was about learning how to problem solve and think on the fly. And most of all it was about working and growing together as a team. It is so satisfying to be able to say that we made a difference. Our team sailed into uncharted waters and emerged with an extremely successful set of data that will hopefully have international implications.

The engineering side of the trip was both fun and educational. We definitely pulled some late nights getting the IVER up and running, but all things considered, the technical side of things went quite smoothly. Aside from a few hardware issues the IVER performed flawlessly, which made our lives easy. The hardest part of the testing was spotting the IVER between dives as it ran its course through the bay!

Going swimming!

Shot with the IVER.
From the cultural side of the trip, Norway was truly amazing. Having never been to Europe, there was definitely a culture shock. Whether it was the layout of the cities, the sheer quantity of round abouts, or the personalities of locals, it was definitely a change. But a good one! I loved every bit of it. All of the people we met were extremely helpful and nice, the country itself was absolutely beautiful, and the city life seemed fun and lively. I definitely foresee a vacation to Norway in my immediate future to further explore the beautiful country and maybe learn a thing or two about cross-country skiing.

Delicious Salmon prepared at the Sletvik Field Station

Overall, this trip was great. It not only gave me a new international experience but also motivated me to pursue the push to apply robotics to new fields. Thanks to everyone!

ICEX team (minus Chris) at TBS

Saturday, July 3, 2010

My Reflection on the Trip

After such an intense trip it takes awhile to decompress and process everything that happened in that short amount of time. As my first international engineering experience, I would call it an unquestionable success. Not only did we far exceed the expectations of the Norwegians and our own Cal Poly professors, we were able to gather an exciting data set.

Not only did we perform some amazing feats of engineering, we also were given a great introduction to Norwegian culture and the country itself. Every time I had Norwegian food I absolutely loved it, from the Bacalhau (a Norwegian take on a Portuguese dish) of the first dinner to the reindeer meat of the last.

The country itself was amazingly pretty and Hopavagen Bay reminded us of the High Sierras. It was so beautiful I would love to be able to visit again and go backpacking through some of the areas surrounding the fjords. Here's a look on Hopavagen Bay after a 10 minute hike to the top of one of the surrounding hills, you can see the field station in the right side of the picture: