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Vol 39  No 5
Nov. 2, 2006


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Graduate student heads overseas for opportunity of a lifetime

by Michelle Osmond

Autosub team of the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton.

Memorial engineering PhD student Sritama Sarkar is spending eight weeks in the United Kingdom doing something only a handful of researchers get to do. Ms. Sarkar was chosen as one of six student researchers from around the world to take part in an international exchange through a young researcher’s bursaries program.

Sponsored by the National Environmental Research Council (NERC), Ms. Sarkar is part of the Collaborative Autosub Science in Extreme Environments project, the autonomous underwater vehicle Autosub team of the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton. NERC funds 12 competitive bursaries of up to 5,000 British pounds for a program designed for young scientists and engineers to travel and collaborate.

The Autosub team is currently designing and building the Autosub6000, which will be capable of working to a depth of 6000 metres. They are also processing a large amount of data gathered by the Autosub 3 from its previous missions. Ms. Sarkar is helping the Autosub team process that data.

She said being selected to work on this team has been very exciting and challenging. “It’s a definitely a nice way to start my professional career,” she said. “I have just submitted my PhD thesis and am at the point of ending my academic life and entering into the professional life. The experience with the Autosub team is helping me gain practical experience with autonomous underwater vehicles technology.”

Ms. Sarkar is in Ocean and Naval Architectural Engineering and her PhD research focused on designing, building and testing an underwater walking dredger/miner. In the future, Ms. Sarkar says she would also like to work with underwater vehicles so, she adds, the time she’s spending with the Autosub team is really valuable in preparing her for the future.

“My visit to the National Oceanography Centre is at a really good time, when a lot of different activities are going on, involving different systems and sensors integrations and testing,” said Ms. Sarkar. “All of these activities are giving me a first hand experience to autonomous underwater vehicles technology.”

The other students chosen are from British Columbia, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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