Thursday, June 30, 2016

Computers, Cleanrooms, and Castles

Over the last few weeks, I have started working with more complex computational techniques including finite element analysis. To conduct finite element analysis, I am using COMSOL Multiphysics software and high-tech computer clusters. After I design an acoustic system, the procedure for finite element analysis involves creating a two-dimensional or three-dimensional representation of the system including geometry, physics, and boundary conditions. Finite element analysis works by approximating the solutions of the resulting differential equations numerically across a user-defined mesh. The final results involve detailed information about the system like pressure and physical stress for each element of the mesh.

Currently, my group is working on creating basic prototypes of the acoustic systems that I designed using additive manufacturing (aka 3D printing) and lab equipment. We are going to be testing these prototypes in a small lab at IMEC.

IMEC Academy also offered tours of the cleanroom and support area at IMEC 1. Fellow JHU intern Chris Argento and I decided to register for the only tour offered in English this summer. For the tour, we dressed up in white cleanroom suits and walked through a class 1000 cleanroom. While there, we learned about types of experiments they conduct such as lithography, nanofabrication, and etching. The cleanroom itself was huge and contained extremely complex equipment and sections designated as class 1. The support area tour gave an introduction to the equipment required to maintain the air quality and humidity of the room, the chemical processes used to neutralize the waste, and the safety procedures in place in a dangerous event like a fire or gas leak.

On the weekends, I have been taking both group and solo trips around Belgium to Antwerp, Brussels, and Ghent. Each city is different with its own distinct attractions and styles. Antwerp had several tourist neighborhoods lined with American brands like Subway, H&M, and McDonalds along with many residential areas. For Brussels, I have so far only visited Central Brussels where Manneken Pis, the Grand Place, and museums are the main attractions. Hopefully, I will have time to visit Brussels again on the evenings since all my weekends are booked! The highlights of Ghent were the architecture, Gravensteen Castle, St. Bavo’s Cathedral, and the Bourgoyen-Ossemeersen Nature Reserve. The city had many scenic walkways along the canals, and the view from the top of the Gravensteen Castle was an awesome sight.

The professional experience working at IMEC has introduced me to new engineering techniques, and the traveling and cleanroom tours have taken me to places that, prior to the program, I could only dream of visiting.

Michael Signorelli is a second-year Biomedical Engineering undergraduate at Johns Hopkins University


Brussels Grand Place

View of Ghent from the top of the Gravensteen Castle


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