Matthew Chu Cheong, 2013, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Fusion has often been considered the “holy grail” of alternative energy, In that it would provide large amounts of energy with minimal waste products. By utilizing a certain type of magnetic field, fusion reactors can be built on a smaller, easier-to-construct scale. This sort of field would allow for a simpler reactor, along with “closed” field lines that provide for superior containment. Combined with a rotating magnetic field, it is hoped that this would allow for temperatures better suited for fusion. My first project this summer was to model the trajectory of energetic, charged particles, in order to study potential energy extraction methods. For this, I studied numerical algorithms and programming techniques. The second project was to work with separate modeling software, in order to understand controllable parameters under which desirable fusion conditions could be achieved. Here, I had to further study thermodynamics, and learned to work in a Unix environment. I saw how important patience, perseverance, and humility can be if one wants to be a successful researcher. Additionally, I gained insight into what it means to study “physics.” I hope that I can continue researching and continue to learn from these experiences.