By Milani Chatterji-Len

This summer, I am participating in the MIT-Imperial Exchange, in which I am conducting research in the Environmental and Water Resource Engineering section of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. There is a diverse array of exciting ongoing projects in this section of the university; researchers are looking into everything from urban pipe networks to the effects of climate change.

My work centers on hydrological simulation and prediction. Specifically, I am working on developing a model in MATLAB that can accurately and precisely predict wave propagation along a river reach in order to better forecast flood risk for communities that lack this information.

Picture 1

A recent visit to Amsterdam served as a good reminder of the growing threat of flooding throughout the world, which will necessitate action to improve hydraulic flood models.

Comprehending my project and developing the model from scratch has been a challenging experience. Before six weeks ago, I had never studied hydraulic modeling (although I did have experience in fluid mechanics). After carefully studying papers and receiving generous help from my professor and graduate students, I went from not knowing what a hydraulic model was to generating one myself.

In the next two weeks I will continue to work on my model and make improvements. After testing it against data generated in the hydraulics lab in our building, I will perform analyses with the model to determine how sensors can best be calibrated for accurate estimations of river flow. I hope to write a report by the end of my time at Imperial that incorporates everything I have worked on over this period of educational exploration.

While conducting research as an IROP student at Imperial College has been a learning experience, there’s a whole other side to the MIT-Imperial Exchange that requires an equal amount of attention.

Over the past five weeks of the IROP program, I have been trying to explore Europe as much as possible. With MIT students and other research students at Imperial, I have travelled all around the UK and visited cities in other parts of Europe. This weekend, I and other MIT students decided to stick around and relax instead of traveling. Not wanting to waste a weekend, we went exploring in our own backyard and bought tickets to a local football (not soccer) match!

Picture 2

Me and three other MIT students waiting excitedly for the game to begin.

Weeks ago during the welcome afternoon tea held by Imperial’s IROP office, I had the chance to get to know a few students from Imperial College who had gone on exchange last year to MIT. In addition to telling us about the IROP experience, they raved about their favorite British football teams and suggested that we get tickets to see a local team. This past weekend turned out to be the perfect time to see a match, as tickets were still available and other MIT students were also free to go. We arrived at the stadium early and made our way to our seats, surrounded by a sea of fans wearing the striped blue and white jerseys of the home team, the Queens Park Rangers.

Picture 3

The Queens Park Rangers (QPR) face off against the Reading Royals at the QPR home stadium.

As the game began, we heard welcome commentary from all around us. People in the stands were clearly all locals cheering for their favorite team, and they seemed to know everything about every player! It turned out to be an uneven game, with the home team winning 2-0. Even so, it was exciting to be surrounded by British football lovers chanting cheers that we couldn’t understand and routing for their home team.

For those 90 minutes, we too were converted into avid football fans, attempting to keep up with the action. Attending the football game was a dive into British culture that I will remember fondly. I hope I get the chance to attend another game one day in a packed UK Stadium!

This summer, MIT CEE undergraduates Abby Harvey and Milani Chatterji-Len are working in research labs at the Imperial College of London as part of the MIT International Research Opportunities Program (IROP).