about a phd thesis life of two

About a PhD Thesis

Yesterday I wrote the last word for my PhD thesis.

It is something I had never thought I would do.

Why? Because there was a point when I realised that being a geek meant not being the Oana I’d feel comfortable with. And also because I got lot of errors when compiling the chunky pdf file and was too lazy to try and understand all the Latex geeks in the online, whom I’d ask for help. No, Latex is not the stuff condoms are made of I mean, it’s also that, but also some text editing program like Microsoft Word, but for nerds.

But I went on and on and now I have it. I rule. Yaasss!

Ok, enough with the back-patting. I wanted to write some things that crossed my mind while finishing up what was my academical swan song. But before I move to it, just wanted to offer a framework for my thesis, so the ones who don’t know me and my tumultuous past can understand better.

Some background.

I studied aerospace engineering (fuselage and structure) in Bucharest and, partially, in Munich. After finishing up, I did my PhD at Technical University of Munich, Institute for Aerodynamics and Fluid Dynamics. Yes, that has something to do with airplanes. No, I cannot fly them, just build them. Parts of them anyway. The thesis was part of a national German programme. We were supposed to build a SCRamjet on paper, meaning make all the computations for it.

The SCRamjet is some sort of a supercool engine for future aerospace transportation. What’s cool about it is that the air going in and out has supersonic speeds (for your average airplane that speed is subsonic). Supersonic means greater than the speed of sound (Mach number = 1). As a reference, a commercial airplane cruises at approximately Mach = 0.9. There are more details to be discussed here, but that’s kind of enough for your first aerodynamics lesson.

My work meant running lot of computations, some of which took weeks, if not months. Then there were summer schools and conferences, meeting other geeks, discussing work, sciencing.
I met very interesting people along the way and built lasting friendships. Most importantly, I proved myself I can do it, f I set my head to it.

All the hours of editing and compiling made me revisit the past and realise that:

a. I missed it. All of it. The scientific writing, formulating, interpreting, visualising results in Tecplot and trying to understand flow phenomena. I missed the summer schools and the get togethers that ended up in parties and funny totally unscientific discussions. All in all, it was the best, richest experience I made so far.

b. It was never about becoming a PhD in aerodynamics, it was about writing. It’s always been about writing.

What’s next?
I am planning something. A release. But it won’t be what you think. Stay tuned!


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