With the help of the Go Abroad fund, I was able to participate in the “Go Away!” program offered by the school of Engineering at the University of Edinburgh. As part of this program, myself and a group of others travelled to Harbin Engineering University in Heilongjiang province in the north west of China for four weeks, to complete a short engineering course within the college of automation at HEU. This course focused on control theory and made use of several different types of programmable logic controller. In addition, we received two weeks of lessons on basic Mandarin Chinese. Naturally, being able to communicate with the locals was always going to be a concern when the language is so different from European languages, but the lessons we received were invaluable in abating this concern. Just learning a few phrases and words were plenty to get by, the people of Harbin were all very friendly and happy to try and speak with you.
Harbin city exhibition
Further, before arriving in Harbin, I was worried how I’d manage to learn and understand how to use the equipment given the computers would all be using Chinese software, but HEU were very helpful in ensuring there were plenty of their students on hand to help us using the equipment. The lessons were very useful to implement the theories that I have been taught as part of my degree at the University of Edinburgh, as the laboratories at HEU were very well equipped with a wide variety of technologies. We were able to observe the whole process wherein control theories can be used to realise a prescribed objective, from the writing of the initial code, to transferring the control programs to devices such as smart cars, and then to tune and optimise our programs to best achieve the performance criteria.
My smart car
As well as being a very useful educational experience and a great way to supplement the courses that I have taken at the University of Edinburgh, it was also a great chance to explore China and experience a completely different culture and lifestyle to what I’m used to in Europe. In addition to the four weeks spent at HEU in Harbin, I was able to travel to the cities of Xian, Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong within China, as well as Kuala Lumpur and Singapore on my way home. Since this was my first visit to Asia, the chance to visit these places has left me hungry for more and investigating potential opportunities to study or work in China in the future!
No trip to Beijing would be complete without a visit to the great wall!
The entrance to the Forbidden city