Category Archives: Uncategorized

Better late than never…

Hello everyone! My name is Anupam Biswas and I am a new graduate student in Mechanical Engineering Department. I graduated from the Department of Aerospace Engineering in the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India. And now, here I am in Vancouver, Canada, for the first time outside my country, pursuing my master’s in Mech, UBC. I arrived here on September 2nd, 2010 after completing 35 hours of flight but I soon realized that I wouldn’t really hesitate to make 500 hours of continuous journey to be in British Columbia, as it is, no doubt, one of the ‘The Best Places on Earth’.

As I am from India, I have always been in multicultural milieu, wherever I have been there. And now here in UBC, it is a delight to be amidst people from different parts of the world. Living here, kind of feels like being a global citizen. In my opinion, to be a part of the student community here in UBC is, besides academics, a great opportunity to learn about other cultures and communities of the world.

I was being told to blog from a really long time, not because I am a great blogger or a page 3 columnist or something :), but simply because I had consented to the idea of blogging and was constantly procrastinating. My apologies for that. Better late than never. I will certainly not justify myself for this delay but I will surely talk about MECH 502 :). Well that is a fluid mechanics course taught by Dr. Ian Frigaard. If one is interested in fluid mechanics, wants to expand his or her knowledge in the area and doesn’t really mind giving the brain a hard time for around four months, this course is a ‘must take’ :). And not taking it is a mistake :), though one has to go through excruciating hours while solving the assignments, for which the deadlines are usually a month after the question sheets are provided. I am sure those who have taken this course already and are reading this blog, are nodding inside their heads. That is why it was so difficult to begin anything else, because all the time, that is, even hours after the lecture, there were always certain words revolving around the centre of the mind, like Reynolds number, Stokes number, Hele-Shaw, squeeze-damper, thin films and many more. But believe me, at the end you are always content of having learnt so much in the course.

Well life in UBC is so full of things. It is difficult to keep oneself without anything to do. I believe it is like ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to learn so much, and in a myriad of domains. As far as graduate student life is concerned, I think these two or three years of life, keeps one involved and occupied in lab-work for long hours besides gathering extensive amounts of scientific knowhow. I’m sure the idea of getting a sleeping bag for ones’ office is not really a novel one :). I have no doubt that life in UBC for everyone is a grand and unforgettable experience.

To learn, to explore, to leave a mark behind                                                                  Here we are in UBC, a place of mind

Thank you! You can reach me at Frankly I don’t like the ‘interchange’ in Mech emails, so I don’t use it.

How to Beat Procrastination (Part 1 – Special Occasions… for singles)

Yup, what you see above is a glass of wine and Ferrero Rocher chocolate sitting on my desk. Two ingredients that’s keeping me from procrastinating. You may not agree with my methods of beating down procrastination, but I thought it could shed some light to how I get rid of my urges to play online games and watch tv. You will see the story behind the two ingredients and my day today as you read on.

So why wine and chocolate today? Well…. It’s Chinese New Year’s day today, and despite the fun and special nature of the day, I didn’t get to celebrate.

Today was just another Thursday. I tried my best to get my stuff done in the morning and went to a grammar class at the UBC Writing Centre in the evening (yup, I get to to be picky about grammar and give the instructor a real hard time about subject/verb agreements and punctuations for 2.5 hours every week). I had my healthy dinner for the day, had my fill of entertainments during dinner, and even had a chat with my sister over the phone. But that was pretty much it.

When I got back from the class, I felt that I was lacking something, and I felt the urge to spice up the night a little bit and up the mood of the day.

I mean, to be honest, celebrating the New Year’s all by myself didn’t seem to be the happiest idea – although I never really cared for it the past few years. Nonetheless, I still have a journal paper I have to edit and push out the door, so it’s not like I wanted someone to be around chatting away with me when I’m supposed to get my work done. So came the amazing idea of wine and chocolate – i.e., Celebrating while working.

Don’t worry, this is really not a bad idea for those who are perfectly happy being a solo, yet career-driven. I, personally, am learning a bit about wine these days and starting to enjoy a glass for celebratory purposes. I have also recently discovered that a glass of wine really gets me focused for some reason. I had been procrastinating on one of the paper-writing things I had to do for days. And one evening, I sat down, had a glass, and was ready to go. I finished the work within three hours. Perhaps not the healthiest habit to get used to I suppose. But it totally works for me.

Now I am listening to the latest release of Vancouver’s local band, Dashing (free to download by the way), sipping on wine, having the delicious hazelnut-filled chocolate with my screen filled with LaTex script of my journal paper. And guess what? It’s almost done. 😀

Alright, for the next post, I will try to come up with a better procrastination-beating technique than my newly emerging bad habits. Stay tuned….!

Sheer Terror: Part 1

Hello Readers!

I hope your first few days back at school have been off to a great start!  Mine have been a little…intimidating.  I am in the process of putting together the test apparatus I posted a schematic of a few posts back.  I received a lot of my parts just before the Christmas break and have been trying to make sense of them which has been a lot more difficult that I was expecting.

I’m not sure if I’ve been completely zoned out over the past few years, but most of what I ordered I have no idea what to do with, and, which is also the worst part, a lot of it seems to be really obvious to everyone I talk to!  Boo.

For the sake of self-esteem preservation, I am going to assume there can be no way I am the only one and therefore, with hopes my professors aren’t reading this and realize I don’t know as much as I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to, I’ll tell you about the scary learning curve I’ve been on over the past couple of weeks.

Moment of sheer terror 1: Receiving the controller.

I ordered the National Instruments PCI-6010 to control the speed of my pump.  The controller is supposed to send it a 0-5 volt signal which corresponds to a flow rate of 0-1600 mL/s.  In my mind it was going to be a little block with pins on top, and a USB coming out one side to plug into my computer.  What I got it a circuit board with a serial port on the side.

What am I supposed to do with this?!?!  Its…just the circuit board?  With no fancy box or anything to put it in? So I put it back in its box, set it on my shelf, and took a couple deep breaths.  Oh dear.

I googled various combinations of “connect PCI-6010 to computer” with no luck,  looked through the user manual which gave extremely detailed instructions on how to insert a CD into a disc drive and install the software, but absolutely no indication of what to do with the actual board.  Eek.

I then called one of my friends who I did my undergrad with and who is doing her masters in electrical who did mechatronics.  She explained that PCI is short for “take apart your computer and re-build it with the controller in it.” Ok, that is a little over dramatic. There are actually nice little slots pre-prepared for this kind of thing, and all you have do it do take off the side panel of the computer and slide it in.  Obviously!…?

For people who find this in the same situation as I was, here’s what you do!  It actually IS really easy.

1.       Install software

2.       Remove side panel from computer

3.       Punch out the sheet metal blocking one of the spare slots located at the back of the computer.

4.       Slide the circuit board into the slot so the slots on the board fit into their receivers on the other side of the computer.  These supply power and allow the computer to communicate with the board.  You don’t need to do anything extra (at least in my case) at this point in terms of computer surgery.

5.       Screw the board into place.

You’re done!  That took me about 4 days. But it works!

Stay tuned for moment of sheer terror 2.