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Mike Machielsen - Internship at Aalto University in Finland

Internship at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland. 
Reported by Mike Machielsen. Powered by FuseNet.

It was a cold day and the sky was clouded. “Well, summer in Finland has a different meaning”, I thought as I waited for the bus. I was informed about possible road works beforehand, and wasn’t surprised when the bus decided to take a detour. I arrived at Aalto University at 9am sharp, which was pretty early as I learned later on, since people here usually work from 10am-6pm instead of 9am-5pm. Therefore, nobody was there yet, except for my supervisor.

He welcomed me and together we went to the meeting room where he explained more about my project. Afterwards, we went to the work space where I was assigned a desk and computer. I noticed a plant on the windowsill, which was completely dried out. “That looks familiar”, I thought, smiling.

Breaking out of this narrative to summarize my internship:

Being part of the fusion group of Aalto University

The fusion group of Aalto University received me very kindly. Everybody made an effort to speak English when I was around, and they invited me to some events as well. They were also very helpful and went even further than just assisting me while setting up my account and workspace. They also helped me to get registered for a public transport card and they offered me a place to stay, if I needed it. This really made me feel like I was part of the fusion group.

Reynolds stress beneficial for higher confinement modes

During my project, I have been investigating Reynolds stress, which is generated by velocity fluctuations of the plasma particle, and its effect on the confinement of fusion plasmas. By driving poloidal flows, Reynolds stress suppresses turbulence and knowledge of Reynold stress could, therefore, prove useful in further understanding of higher confinement modes. My work consisted of determining this Reynolds stress, as well as the particle flux in the simulations of the TUMAN tokamak. For this purpose, data from the so called ELMFIRE code was used.

Breaking the ice...

On my arrival, I knew nobody in Helsinki (apart from a few people via email). Luckily my roommates were very nice and so were my colleagues. As such, I quickly made some new friends, which proved to be easier than I expected, since most people are very welcoming to outsiders and everybody speaks English really well. If you ever talk to a Fin, but don’t know what to say, just talk about ice hockey and they open up completely. Especially if they beat Sweden.

Looking back, I think that I have learned a lot during my internship. First of all, of course, about new topics in plasma physics, but I also improved my social skills and I learned how to maintain structure in a large project. Overall, my internship at Aalto University has been a really good experience!