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Building a bridge between the industry and academia

“Building a bridge between the industry and academia” – a point that stands out in the SCENT project proposal. Apart from having a significant value for academia as well as for industry, building this bridge brings lots of fun and joy for a researcher (first time on a tour at the industrial host felt like visiting a Disneyland). God knows how many times I felt confused facing an actual piece of equipment or a simple need to connect something to something not with the lines on a paper or in a simulation, but in a real life.

But how do you build something if the world just stopped spinning due to the global pandemic?

The very first time I went to the industrial host for measurements and “investigation” was somewhere in September 2019. We performed a conducted emission test for an AC/DC converter to discover more about the system and the noise source and then come up with the most efficient way of filtering the noise for this specific setup. Please, don’t be naïve believing that I did that in one go. Of course, the first time I forgot to make half of the measurements I needed, and the second time I took the wrong measurement device. Nonetheless, after all the mistakes were made, the first measurement campaign was finished and conveniently became a topic for my first two conference papers. However, the collaboration didn’t stop. We still were planning to design a filter for a converter the company has. The work on the filter could have been done in the university lab and this is exactly what I started to do, but.. in mid-January, I broke my ankle (please, don’t climb if you don’t know how to fall). That threw me out of the game for about two and a half months and then the pandemic kicked in. After a complete lockdown, when the measures have softened, I was a lucky one who could enter the university lab for urgent measurements to finish the work on a filter and was ready to go to my ‘’remote secondment’’ in the industry to test it. The only problem is that the guest researches weren’t allowed. COVID-19 introduced its own rules. Although the company allowed to accept external customers, so I became that. Our supervisor says that it’s a typical Dutch habit to have rules but time after time use common sense to bypass those. Seeing how well everything is arranged in this country, this habit works wonders. I was going to the industrial host for measurements and used my home office (‘’teleworking’’) to analyze and post-process the results of the ‘’remote secondment’’. The communication and discussions with my industrial supervisor were performed by email or online meetings, as he was working from home. Of course, some adjustments had to be made for the filter so I had to go back to the university lab and then come back to the industrial secondment, and remotely evaluate the results.
This work and collaboration resulted in interesting material that we want to present during the following conferences, as well as helped an industrial partner to get some insights about the possible improvements for the filter in terms of costs, volume, weight, and performance. It has certainly been a challenge for all of us throughout the world to cope with the pandemic and quarantine, but there are also things that we were able to adjust and modify to continue working and building that bridge.