One of the most exciting projects I worked on without a doubt was Photometry in Astrophysics. When my teammate and I were looking for a Thesis subject it occurred to us to look outside of our comfort zone but at the same time do something with a strong Engineering background.
We knocked on some doors at a number of research facilities at UNAM, Mexico. Mathematics, Material Research, Physics and Astronomy to name a few. We chatted with scientists and project leaders to find out what they were working on and tried to look for where we could fit in. One of the places that offered more of a challenge and learning opportunities was in the Institute of Astronomy.
We got involved in really interesting projects, from digital signal processing to instrumentation but it was in the last one where we chose our thesis project.
Photometry is the measurement of the flux or intensity of an astronomical object’s electromagnetic radiation. With this information astronomers can explain the nature of the object been observed.
We went all in.
- Researching the physics involved.
- The characteristics and limitations of the sensors.
- Prototyping the Electronics for signal acquisition, conditioning and filtering.
- The interface to a PC.
- The Linux Driver to control the electronics.
- Finally the GUI for the instrument where the data collected was displayed and saved.
After we tested on site the feeling was amazing. It was the first time that I carried a project of this magnitude and the outcome for my teammate and I was positive: we graduated. As for the Institute now they have an instrument that new generations of astronomers could make good use of to enrich their knowledge in the field.
After the thesis defence when I received my certificate and title I genuinely felt that I earned my title as a true Engineer.