Hiba Assi '10
I was contemplating the two choices that Dr. Antar gave me. He proposed that I either help with the ongoing fluid dynamics research or start studying and researching a topic in Astrophysics. I decided to take the first choice because of my further interest in the area of fluid dynamics. Working in the fluid dynamics research meant that I had to work with a Masters candidate at the AUB, Lamiss Zaidouny.
We were supposed to start an experiment and study its results. However, we did not have the instrumentation needed for imaging the 2-D quasi motion of liquid gallium when applying electromagnetic forces. There were two main techniques that we investigated: imaging using X-rays and imaging using ultrasound.
I was assigned the task of investigating the ultrasound method: the physics behind it and the instrumentation that we need to use for this technique. I read some books that explained the physics of ultrasound. I benefited from these readings because of learning new terminologies and physical principles like piezoelectric effect, which is the foundation of ultrasound. Later, Dr. Antar told me that they were deciding on buying an ultrasound machine or some parts of it. So I searched online for used ultrasound machines. To get a real sense of this machine and its applicability for the experiment, Dr. Antar proposed that we pay a visit to the American University Hospital. So Dr. Antar, Lamiss, and I went to the AUH, talked to the technical engineer, Zuhair Khalily, and visualized for some time the liquid gallium embedded with tungsten beads with the two available machines. The second machine was better than the first, but still not good enough for our needs. Dr. Antar and Lamiss saw that the X-ray machine that they tried before resorting to the ultrasound technique gave them better results. Therefore, a decision was made to cancel the idea of using ultrasound and to use X-rays for imaging.
I did some readings on X-rays to understand how we can use them for our experiment. After understanding the physical principles, we needed to look for the required equipment. The set-up was supposed to be an X-ray source, the setup containing the gallim, and the imaging set-up consisting of: a beryllium window (to take in just the X-rays and not the surrounding visible light, a scintillator (to convert X-rays to visible light) coupled to a fiber optical taper, and then a CCD camera to capture the flow.
The group had an X-ray source, but it emitted small range energy. They needed a high energy of 120 kVp. They ordered an X-ray source that emits energy in the range 80-160 kVp. In addition, they ordered and got the CCD camera. We did not setup the experiment because of the lack of the needed equipments (some were ordered and did not arrive at the AUB yet, and some were still being decided upon). The purchasing period and the related decisions took most of the time of the group. This did not mean that I stopped researching. I read papers that Dr. Antar and Lamiss suggested and learned new concepts in physics that deepened my knowledge in the area of fluid dynamics.
On the fourth of August, Lamiss and I setup a small version of the aimed experiment. We ran this simple experiment under the supervision of Dr. Antar. We recorded the flow of liquid gallium using a video camera and noticed the vortices that we were expecting.
This internship benefited me in so many ways. Academically, it deepened my knowledge in the area of fluid dynamics. Beside my individual research, Dr. Antar and Lamiss suggested many books and papers so that I will fill the gap that was caused by our inability to do intense experimental work. Furthermore, there were group meetings every Monday. In every meeting, one of the four Masters candidates whom Dr. Antar supervised gave a presentation about his/her research. Two of these four students are doing theoretical research in the area of fluid dynamics and plasma, and the other two (including Lamiss) are doing experimental work. These meetings and presentations benefited all of us. Not only did I improve my theoretical and academic knowledge, but I also improved my experimental and practical skills. Installing new hardware and software on the group PC, getting introduced to Matlab and using it to draw graphs and to solve equations, and working on Latex helped me better my computing skills. Most importantly, this internship strengthened my decision to pursue a doctoral degree in theoretical Physics.
Being at the AUB was not merely an academic experience. I was given many chances that helped me as a future educator. I once helped proctor the introductory Physics test and helped grade the test. These count as new experiences that will benefit me later if I decide to continue on the teaching path and as a graduate student in any university. Moreover, working in a group helped me improve my interpersonal skills. Besides improving my leadership skills, this internship deepened my sense of responsibility. Consequently, I consider my experience at the AUB a complete experience that helped me grow as a person in many different aspects.
I could not live in the AUB dormitories because of the pressure of summer-program students. So I found housing 20 minutes away from the AUB. I lived in a house with 11 other girls at first. I shared a room with another girl. I commuted every day to and from the AUB. I traveled every weekend to Baalbeck, my hometown, to spend some time with my family.
My internship this summer made my college experience a complete one. During my time at W&L, I had the feeling that I was missing the life that a college student in Lebanon has. Commuting to the university, visiting family every weekend, and living in the middle of a very lively surrounding with people from different occupations were the things that I experienced in Beirut. So, this internship provided me with the opportunity to have a full college experience. I encountered a slice of life after college and this deepened my sense of responsibility, independence, and leadership.