ME's Global Engineer Reshma Sudhesh Shares her SURGE-UNIANDES Experience
My SURGE experience was everything I was hoping it would be and more. I was extremely intimidated at first since I couldn’t speak any Spanish at all. But people at both my university and outside, were more than accommodating. The administrators from the study abroad office even went out of their way to personally take me to the hospital and helped communicate with the staff and doctors when I fractured my dominant hand while biking down a hill. Despite that mishap, I would live through all of it again if I could.
My research was based on the aerodynamics of quadcopters at high altitudes. Bogota is well above sea level and so the atmosphere is no longer at standard temperature and pressure (STP). Because of this, drones that could run for say, 2 hours at normal STP could only run for a fraction of the time there. My professor was trying to study the factors that could be changed in order to get these drones to work more efficiently in Bogota. The results of the research were directly being sent to a company called ADVECTOR which is a developer of unmanned aerial vehicles in Colombia. It felt pretty amazing to be doing research at the best university in Colombia (and one of the best in all of South America) and having the opportunity to use all the equipment and software at their state-of-the-art university. Knowing that I was involved with something that was directly affecting the latest technology in the region was exhilarating even if it came with a steep learning curve.
I 100% recommend this program to anyone interested in having the experience of their lifetime. Finding yourself stranded in a country where you might not speak the language is extremely intimidating at first but 2 months of living through that taught me that life begins outside your comfort zone and that had I not been willing to put myself in an unfamiliar territory I would not have learned even half of what I did this Summer.
Reshma was very engaged during her time in Colombia and was showcased in a news piece published by the College of Engineering at Uniandes. The story highlights the stories of local and international female researchers and aims to inspire and promote other women in engineering students to conduct research and women in general to pursue Engineering careers. You can find the original news piece here (note: the article is written in Spanish).