Seattle visit and University of Washington Seminar

This past week saw more travel and more amazing experiences in the US. This time it was off to Seattle, Washington to give a talk on my research and the potential of artificial intelligence in enhancing Marine Renewable Energy operations.

Arriving at the University of Washington, I was immediately struck by the sprawling scale and beauty of the campus. So much so that I outright passed the “stop: get your parking permit here” kiosks; shortly thereafter realizing that “parking” on campus is very much a misnomer, and is actually difficult/bordering impossible. Rectifying this with a quick detour which allowed me to take in the Giant Husky Stadium, I arrived just (40) minutes late to my meeting. (Sorry UW faculty!)

Despite the now shortened meeting, however, it was clear that there were some great areas to share ideas and further opportunities for collaboration between the faculty here and at OSU/UCC, and it was fantastic to get to meet so many like-minded people taking an active interest in Marine Renewables.

My afternoon lecture was given to both undergrad, graduate students, and staff of the Pacific Marine Energy Center (PMEC); as part of the Mechanical Engineering Graduate Seminar.

This graduate seminar series presents speakers of varied interests, industries and professions, which just the previous week saw a presentation from Amazon Robotics, and next week will see a lecture from Blue Origin – Jeff Bezos’s rocket company. If there is a whiff of heavy Amazon presence on here, it’s likely due to their proximity to campus and some of the deeper links between the shopping/tech giant and the university – including Amazon Catalyst; which offers up to $100k to students to allow students, faculty and staff to bring an idea to life, the Amazon Mentor Program, and some of the institutional funding now being provided by them to the college, with Amazon giving $10M for a new world-class computer science building that is expected to be open in early 2019.
While a further $76M of private and state funding is going towards the building, it’s clear that Amazon didn’t see fit to leave the Paul G. Allen (Microsoft co-founder) computer science building as the largest standing tech-giant funded building on campus.

With some time to wander after the seminar, I met with a fellow Fulbrighter, who proved a fantastic tourguide! The UW campus was downright amazing; the very picture of the “American College life” I had always imagined and seen in the movies. Vast, sprawling green areas with long-haired freshmen playing Frisbee. The famous University of Washington Yoshino Cherry Blossoms, just past peak-bloom but still gorgeous, flanked large open areas on campus, and, from one corner of red square they lined a long avenue dropping off to the giant Drumheller fountain with a snow-topped Mount Rainier just peaking through the distant mist.

With the sun still beating down late in the evening, we availed of the on-campus rental of canoes and paddled out into Union Bay, dodging rowers, and making our way past Marsh Island and under the 520 freeway! (Which just a few hundred meters east becomes the evergreen point floating bridge). A truly unique experience, and one that made me wonder why all college campuses don’t offer this level of fun!

The following day I got to visit to Seattle Museum of Flight on Boeing field, taking in “Red Barn,” where Boeing set up shop in 1909 to build some of the first ever commercial aircraft; and a host of very, very special aircraft. These included the world’s first jetliner, the first jet-powered Air Force One (SAM 970), more than 25 WWI and WWII aircraft, the first ever Boeing 747, one of just four Concordes on display outside Europe and possibly most special – a Full Fuselage Trainer (space shuttle mock-up produced by NASA for astronaut training). There was so much on offer at the Museum of Flight that I only managed to visit two of the five buildings in the half-day I spent there. I will definitely have to visit again!

For now it’s back to research, with an upcoming presentation in Washington, D.C. at the end of the month for Waterpower Week /  Marine Energy Technology Symposium, which promises to be seriously interesting!

But first: a quick trip to Bend (Eastern Oregon) for a 5k race – which is really just an opportunity to stretch the legs amidst some great scenery before hopping on a plane again!

 

In pictures: Views of Seattle From Kerry Park & Columbia Tower, The Cherry Blossoms on UW campus, Suzzallo Library (“The Harry Potter Room”), Concorde, Space Shuttle, various old planes, aboard the first jet- Air Force One, The first ever underwater remote operated vehicle at the Applied Physics Laboratory.

 

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