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My industrial secondment during the COVID-19 pandemic

The Marie-Sklodowska Curie Actions Innovative Training Networks (MSCA-ITN) offers many valuable opportunities for the Early Stage Researcher (ESR) to develop their knowledge, skills and careers. One of the appreciated opportunities which I obtained as the ESR in the SCENT project is doing secondment at industries. The experience from the industrial secondment provides the insight for the ESR to find and tackle real world problems using academic and scientific research approach.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenges. The access to the laboratories is limited, including the access for the secondment to the partner industries of the SCENT Project. Therefore, the secondments have to be done in another way, such as remote secondment combined with teleworking.

I did a secondment with THALES Nederland together with Nancy Omollo, one of the ESR from PETER project. How can we do the industrial secondment at THALES amidst the pandemic? Well, as what my supervisor said, the Dutch people have many rules, but the rules itself still can be deviated in a smart way to adapt to the situation.

During this pandemic, THALES is limiting the access to the laboratory for performing experiments. External researchers and students are not allowed to do experiments, but with a bit of “deviation”, Nancy and I were able to perform experiments for the secondment at THALES by becoming “external customers”, because these are allowed access to the laboratory during the pandemic. The secondment itself was performed together with the measurement of a matrix drive to check whether the matrix drive has lower emission compared to the existing one. We made the contact with my industrial mentor from THALES via email and discussed about the measurement before going to THALES. He is very helpful and informative in providing the information about the measurement.

I performed the measurements using a multi-channel digitizer and current clamps to measure the emission from the matrix drive current. This method has been used to make the measurement faster compared to the conventional way of measurement using the EMI receiver, which is time consuming, and gives the emission in the frequency domain only. This method can also be used to observe the emission in time and frequency domain simultaneously, which can be used to find the low interference area in the time and frequency domain, and this information can be used for my research on communication purpose. The result of my measurement will be evaluated remotely via teleworking.

The secondment within THALES could only last for a few days. As you can guess, not all results are what I am looking for. Some mistakes were made, but that’s how we learn, right? At least the secondment gives me the insight of how to deal with the real-world problem in industry using a scientific approach. I am looking forward to the next opportunity for doing a remote secondment!