My Background & Motivation
My name is Robin Klein and I am a Mechanical Engineering student. During the previous years of my study I’ve been confronted with problems from several scientific disciplines. Examples of these disciplines are fluid dynamics, thermodynamics and material mechanics. Of course these problems were hard to solve, but they were often limited to simple situations and analytic solutions could be found using pen and paper. Solving these problems was fun but I have always been eager to find the solutions to problems that could virtually not be found analytically, which are often encountered in practice. Like fluid flow or temperature distributions in complex shapes. Besides this I always enjoyed - and still do - programming. During my study I’ve mainly used MatLab for writing simple models but had heard of other languages (like C, C++ and Python) and was aware of the benefits of gaining skills in using these languages. Being able to learn how to simulate and visualise these difficult physical problems using many different mathematical techniques and programming languages is what motivated me to attend the Computational Science and Engineering minor.
You will get mathematical courses on solving partial differential equations numerically, these were my personal favourites. Besides these there are courses on parallel computing and scientific programming, that focus on computer architecture and very hardcore programming. As a result of my background in mechanical engineering I was hesitant if I could handle that, but you are eased in very well and if you try you can definitely keep up.
The Final Project
In the second period you get to work on a final project in groups of four. The projects are supervised by authorities in the respective fields with whom you get to work very closely. Personally I got to work on crowd simulation. We made two different models from scratch that simulated crowd evacuations in different ways and compared them to each other and real evacuation data. I was responsible for writing a model based on fluid dynamical equations. This meant I had to find appropriate numerical schemes to discretize the relevant equations and write it in efficient code. I found the project extremely fascinating and learned a lot about actually doing scientific research.
After completing this minor I’ve gained skills that are useful for any TU Delft student. It gave me good insight in difficult forms of mathematics like partial differential equations and linear algebra, which carry over to so many other courses. Besides this I now have a very solid foundation in C and C++, I’ve learned about things like pointers and data types all the way to template metaprogramming in C++ and object oriented programming. I also gained experience in doing proper scientific research from practice instead of being taught how to do research. It’s easy to imagine that these things will also help me in my bachelor thesis and during my master. I would definitely recommend it to any motivated student!