Internship at General Atomics in San Diego, USA
Reported by Wouter Oosterbeek. Powered by FuseNet
My time in San Diego has been wonderful, both regarding the scientific work I have done and the spare time I have had. Let’s start with the least fun part, the preparation.
Arranging a good start in the USA
My accommodation was probably quite different than in most cases. General Atomics kindly set me up with one of their employees, Alan, who could rent me a room. To enable this internship financially, FuseNet has been very important. More trouble however was caused by the visum that I needed and eventually I started a little bit later than planned because of all the things I needed to arrange.
When I arrived however, I got off to a good start thanks to the support and hospitality of Alan. He really helped me out with a lot, both regarding the internship and living in San Diego. The start of the project was good and within a week I was familiar with IDL (a programming language I never used before) and I proceeded steadily.
Working at General Atomics: science and basketball
Most of my work focused on finishing a programming project regarding the Thomson Scattering diagnostic at the DIII-D tokamak. One of the diagnostic components, namely the monochromator, slightly alters the measured data and getting back the real data is not straight-forward. The method for doing so, called deconvolution, was done based on NASA algorithms, but it did not seem to converge in all cases. I solved this problem in my internship by looking at the number of iterations and investigating their effect on the measurement results. This effect turned out to be only significant for very low-temperature cases, which are rare, but can be important.
Also, I helped with some hardware tests and checks: checking whether new lenses projected images as predicted, testing whether the used glass could withstand the laser power and assisting with placing a divertor tile in the DIII-D reactor.
I also attended meetings in which practical issues were discussed, which gave me a nice insight into what goes on behind the scenes of a fusion reactor facility. These were very interesting. Besides all these scientific activities, I really enjoyed that at GA some of the employees got together in the lunch breaks every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to play some basketball. This kept me in shape and with all the kind guys this was a lot of fun!
San Diego is a great city!
I expected to do a lot of things in the evening and weekends, but the evenings were mainly just watching some Netflix. The internship was quite exhausting, so a couple of visits to the beach after work is all I did. However, I visited a lot of beautiful places in the weekends: beaches, Balboa Park, Point Loma, Coronada, Downtown area, Sunset cliffs, Lake Miramar, Mission Bay area and much more. San Diego is a great city!
Also, I knew someone from the Netherlands who also lives in San Diego now and I went to a baseball game with him. I also spent a weekend with my dad’s cousin in LA and I went for a long weekend to San Francisco. The Golden Gate Bridge is amazing! On my way back to the Netherlands I stopped for vacation in both Chicago and New York (just by myself), which were both great experiences.
Altogether, I had a great experience in the United States, in particular I have enjoyed San Diego as a city and General Atomics as a great place for an internship where I have learned a lot!