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Work Experience student Danielle Broughton hearing about Dr Alan Duffy’s research.

Work Experience student Danielle Broughton hearing about Dr Alan Duffy’s research.

Tuesday July 12th, 2011

My first day at ICRAR (Curtin Uni) was a very interesting one.  I started the day quite nervous and shy but then became more comfortable with the surroundings and how lovely the people were.

At first Kirsten Gottschalk gave me a tour around the facility, introduced me to many of the staff and gave me a run down on all the different types of jobs I could experience and told me much about what ICRAR does and especially their part in the SKA.  I spent the morning with some engineers who told me a lot about what they do and also let me watch them do some electrical engineering.

After a lunch break I was able to work with engineers Brian Crosse and Dave Pallot, we did many calculations and brainstormed ideas on effective ways to arrange the fiber optics that connect the receivers to the correlators so that they would receive data at the same time out in the Murchison.  I enjoyed working with them because they were really funny, friendly and tried to convert me into wanting to study engineering.   Day 1 was really enjoyable.

Wednesday July 13th, 2011

Today I was at UWA; I started out with IT, computer specialist Dr Chen Wu, who showed me what his job was like and how they analyse data for astronomers to use.  It was quite interesting, but looked very complicated.  After that I sat in on Kirsten giving a talk to a school about ICRAR and its involvement in the SKA, which I hope will be placed in Australia.

After a lunch break I had a session with astronomer Dr Ed Elson who was very friendly and let me do some real science work, finding an asteroid and calculating its distance from earth and its speed.  I really enjoyed this and found it amazing how we could work out those things.  He also showed me the type of work astronomers do and this definitely inspires me to study astronomy in university.   Day 2, even better!

Thursday July 14th, 2011

Today I was at ICRAR- Curtin where I started off the day finding radio astronomy pictures for Kirsten.  After that I had a chat with Medical Physicist and Astronomer Dr Cathryn Trott, who was very nice and it was very interesting.  After Lunch I worked with Dr John Morgan where we used Celestia to try and work out the position of a planet around a star to see whether it could support life.  My next session was with Dave Emrich and Dr Randall Wayth, who wanted to show me what the radio waves emitted by neutral hydrogen (HI) look like on the computer.  We set up a radio telescope in search of the neutral hydrogen, which wasn’t that successful, so then tried to pick up a FM radio frequency but the computer wasn’t working.  Although it was unsuccessful I appreciated the effort they went to.

Friday July 15th, 2011

My last day of work experience was spent at ICRAR- UWA, I started out helping Kirsten with some of her work, after that it was the weekly morning tea where we listened to the latest news for astronomy and for ICRAR; it was quite interesting to see what projects and forums they frequently go to.  Next I had a session working with Professor Gerhardt Meurer where we used his very own computer program to align and look at galaxies with hydrogen alpha and discuss what we thought was happening.  I really enjoyed this and found it very interesting; this is another topic I would like to study at university.  Next I got to work with cosmologist Dr Alan Duffy, who showed me some of his simulations which were very cool.  We discussed cosmology, how the universe is flat and black holes.  Even though I wasn’t following everything he was saying I still found it extremely fascinating.  My session with Dr Duffy was really enjoyable (and not just because he said he was going to check my blog) but something that really interests me, and a topic that I’m leaning towards studying when I get to Uni.  My last day was really fun, but also sad because it was my last.

My work experience at ICRAR was extremely fun and something I would definitely like to do again.  The staff are very nice, welcoming and had a lot of information for me on astronomy and university that they were more than happy to share.  I really appreciate all that Kirsten Gottschalk did for me, she was very friendly, helpful and went out of her way to make sure I was comfortable.  I also really appreciate all the Astronomers, Engineers and Computing staff that gave up their time to work with me and let me know a little about what they do.

I recommend anyone who is interested in Astronomy, Engineering or Computing to do their work experience at ICRAR.

Thanks a million ICRAR

Danielle Broughton