On the third day of our search of India, we started off the day with a presentation about the architecture of Ahmedabad. The city was built by Ahmed Shah in the early 1400s and was later fortified with an outer wall. Multiple gates were built to allow access and also so that the Shah could monitor trade into and out of the city, as the Ahmedabad’s location along the river Sabarmati was a prime spot for trade. These gates stand to this day, and we would actually get to go see them later on in the program. Ahemdabad’s architecture is very varied, as the city is split into old Ahmedabad and “new” Ahmedabad, with the differences in building styles clearly visible between the two.
After a short tea break, we had a presentation on science and technology. We went over technology from relatively ancient times and how older civilizations used their resources to perform technological feats such as create Woortz steel. The presentation was a cool foray into technology throughout India’s history and set us up well for the next activity, a visit to Abellon.
Abellon (https://www.abelloncleanenergy.com/) is a company that focuses on providing renewable solutions to energy problems, primarily in India. Their projects include biomass pellets, power trading, solar panel installation, and manmade bamboo forest cultivation. Below is a picture that I took on the way to the site we were going to visit that shows a thermal energy plant from a distance.
These kinds of thermal energy plants are the most common method of electricity production in India. All power in India goes to the governments (of each state) and is then distributed as it is necessary. However, electricity in India is a massive problem. Many villages and even suburbs cities lose power periodically. Oftentimes, there is a set schedule for when the power is going to go out each day and people learn to expect it. Abellon’s goal is to move India towards using more of the resources that are endemic to the country and eventually realize power independence.
On the way to Abellon’s solar panel array and bamboo forest, we had a very interesting discussion with our guide, an Abellon employee. I chose to ride in his car, along with Brian Brophy (Caltech’s premier figure in theater) and Ramesh (an IIT student), instead of the bus. We talked about many of the problems that plague India, including electricity, many people not paying taxes, corruption, education, and India’s social structure. It was, to some degree, an eye-opening discussion, as I learned some of the hard facts about problems that I have known about for quite some time now. We discussed the best way to solve some of these issues, and though we didn’t come to an agreement (of course), it was a wonderful discussion and a great way to spend the about 2 hour drive to the site.
Above are images of the actual Abellon site – the first picture is the solar panel array that the company is still expanding. The second picture shows the actual bamboo forest that Abellon has grown. The point of the bamboo forest is to have a no net emissions source of fuel; they grow the bamboo themselves on the tough soil, sell it to power companies to burn, and therefore the total net emissions is zero. The third picture shows where the “baby” bamboo plants are initially taken care of. It was an interesting concept, and it was definitely nice to see India moving towards renewable energy. The fourth picture shows one of our IIT friends, Durgesh.
After that long day, we were happy to get dinner along the way back and fall asleep the second we got back.
Almost a year ago now, I was just about to start my first Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at JPL. NASA had sent out an email to all of their summer interns containing a social media template to announce that we had been selected as NASA interns. Excited to show my NASA pride, I posted it on my Instagram story, unaware of what would come out of this small action.
Hey hey! We’re starting a series where I walk you through my best finds for food and drinks in the Pasadena region, and in the LA metropolitan area. Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, if you will (although, for copyright reasons we can’t call it that). As you explore your college options, I firmly believe that food and location are more important than your high school guidance counselor may lead you to believe. And I’m here to share my best finds from my time at Caltech with you.
Over the past several months, I have had the opportunity to intern at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) under the mentorship of senior research technologist Dr. Xiaoqing Pi. Dr. Pi’s guidance and mentorship has been instrumental to the development and success of my internship at JPL, where I use machine-learning to enhance the accuracy and integrity of navigation and communication signals. In addition to helping me develop an understanding of atmospheric and ionospheric remote sensing and machine-learning, Dr. Pi has often offered his insights on how to improve my researching skills. Dr. Pi was generous enough to take the time to answer a few questions regarding his research and advice for future student interns. I believe many students can benefit from some of the lessons that he has taught me:
The transition period to remote learning was a very uncertain time, especially for research and the Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program. Many hands-on projects had to pivot at the last minute to facilitate off-campus contributions. However, many Techers were able to take advantage of the research opportunities offered at Caltech and JPL to make the best out of remote learning and research. To paint a picture, I’ve interviewed a few talented Techers for some insight on what researching from home looks like for them.