Australia to space via KTH
Will Reid studies Mechatronics Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Melbourne, Australia, and chose to come to KTH as an exchange student. While here, he has been able to apply his theoretical knowledge, travel Europe and participate in an EU-funded space project.
For what reasons did you decide to do your exchange at KTH?
I was recommended by a couple of friends who’d been here on exchange before. I wanted to go to a different university and experience a new place – preferably where many people speak English. The choice was between the UK, United States or Scandinavia. I am an engineering student and had heard that KTH has a very good Robotics programme.
While at KTH I have studied some cool subjects and taken advantage of some great opportunities. Together with a group of other students, I was accepted into the REXUS/BEXUS sounding rocket programme (http://rexusbexus.net/). We are building an experiment to collect aerosol particles in the middle atmosphere that will be launched aboard a sounding rocket in March 2012.
Tell us more about the REXUS/BEXUS project.
Our experiment is called RAIN (Rocket deployed Atmospheric probes conducting Independent measurements in Northern Sweden). There are 17 students in the team, representing ten different nationalities.
Our experiment will be launched from Esrange Space Centre in Northern Sweden in March 2012. The Swedish Space Corporation, the German Aerospace Centre and the European Space Agency are the major supporters of the REXUS/BEXUS programme. You can find out more about the RAIN project at www.rainexperiment.se.
What do you like most about KTH?
The approach to teaching; the focus is much more practical than theoretical. I enjoy project-based learning. In one of my courses, we got to build a robot that could navigate through a maze and avoid obstacles. I studied all this theory before and now I get to apply it.
The dynamic atmosphere of KTH has been a pleasant surprise. I've got a lot out of my subjects here, and I know much more about what I want to do in the future."
In what ways does studying at KTH differ from your home university?
There is less emphasis on exams at KTH. The teaching is assessed more by assignments and project work as opposed to cramming for an exam at the end of every semester. I really appreciate learning actively throughout the semester.
What was your impression of Sweden before you came?
I had heard about Sweden having an exemplary democratic political system. Other than that it was mostly stereotypes: blonde people and Northern Lights. One of the reasons I came was that I didn’t know a lot.
Sweden is a great place. It’s a very easy place to live with friendly people. Everyone speaks English so well, it’s incredible! Coming here was a good change of environment.
What has surprised you about Stockholm as a city?
The cold was difficult. I stayed here for the whole winter. The snow was initially a novelty, and the dramatic changes in season are really spectacular. But it’s getting warmer now and the sun is coming back.
Besides that, the dynamic atmosphere of KTH has been a pleasant surprise. I’ve got a lot out of my subjects here, and I know much more about what I want to do in the future.
What do you like most about being here?
It’s so close to the rest of the world. While here I have been able to travel Europe. And I have always wanted to participate in a project like the RAIN experiment.
Do you have any advice for students who are considering coming to KTH and Stockholm?
Bring a warm jacket [laughs]! And take advantage of all the opportunities you have when you’re here. I was hesitant to extend my exchange period from one semester to two, but I now realize that it’s the best decision I’ve made during my university career. Also, going on exchange and seeing different places is very important, personally and professionally.