December 17th, 2017
Today is my last day here. Honestly, I would be most happy to stay and just keep going.
This was my first research posting. That has proven to be a unique experience, both different to what I expected yet familiar. I was sent here to experience study at a different university and work alongside Dr Gulnara Zhabelova. She and I have authored research papers together over the last year with Roopak and it was great to come and see her world. We had particular problems to work on and I had responsibilities for delivering part of it. It felt like we got a lot done and we shall continue working through her winter/my summer until it is finished.
Yes we can do a lot remotely but there is really no replacement for coming and actually seeing her world. It gives you a fresh perspective, one that I have cherished. I think the staff here at Luleå are still surprised that I did not get sick of the endless snow. I keep explaining to them that I really am part polar-bear…
One of my PhD supervisors, Dr Jenny Gibb, spends part of her year travelling like this and I have been endlessly jealous of her adventures. She tells me stories of the people she has met and the students she has worked alongside. Placements like this are obviously quite addictive…now I have stories of my own to share. You also establish long-term collaborations with like-minded people. Ultimately, research is publish-or-perish so writing with other people you like is a huge advantage.
So, I could get quite maudlin and depressed but I won’t. I shall just post some of my best pictures from this trip. There are lots more to catch up on that I will post later. Now, this polar bear is off to explore the rest of Sweden and Norway….but.. probably not the ABBA Museum in Stockholm.
December 1st was the first day of Advent. I arrived early to find this brazier burning in the middle of the road leading to my office. Later that morning, we celebrated Advent Fika, a traditional meal of torte and coffee in the house pictured above, It is located on the edge of the campus among fragrant pine trees and is used for staff functions. Gulnara, Hasan and Chen-Wei took me inside this warm, traditional Swedish home environment, with a blazing log fire.
Last week I had the opportunity to develop a new course here and deliver the first three sessions. Thirty-one students, exploring the LaTeX typesetting language that I teach at AUT. We re-branded all the material for Luleå so that others could take it on and continue teaching it after I leave. In the process, I learnt a new LaTeX development system called Overleaf that I now adore; it is what I will be using to teach all subsequent courses. Beautiful, well-designed software.
Here, design and creativity are key drivers. While exploring a few days ago, I came across these student projects on display. I think I could happily work with a robotic vacuum cleaner if it was designed like this <grin>
I also had an opportunity to visit their FESTO robotic laboratory. We REALLY need one of these at AUT <grin>. I had to ask if anyone had programmed them to play soccer with tennis balls; the laboratory technician was a bit sheepish and assured me that they had not…
Right outside the FESTO laboratory is a student project laboratory. Yes, that is a high-performance bicycle they are designing. I stood and watched for a while, fascinated to see the interaction while they worked.
Onward folks… there are more adventures waiting…