Monday, May 6, 2019

Meet S.E.R.G.

Towards the end of 2018, I decided to try to form a small research team of college students to join in on my space elevator research.  I managed to recruit three such students.  This turned out to be the beginning of S.E.R.G. (Space Elevator Research Group), a lab that aims to study various mechanical aspects of the Space Elevator.

From left to right: Professor Arun Misra (McGill University),
Richard Ziegahn, Raffael Rinaldi, Tristan Vieira, and Stephen Cohen (Vanier College)

Over the course of the past four months, I have met with the three students every so often to help guide them through our research.  Besides learning some fundamentals associated with space elevator mechanics, their focus has been to write a code that will explore something new.  On my end, I have been delighted with how little support they have needed to get as far as they have.

Without getting into the details of our research, I just feel the need to express that they are doing the work I would be doing if I had the time to do it.  It is not unusual for students to aid researchers in this way; it is unusual that the students are 18-19 years old.  I was 24 when I published my first paper - these students will be published before they start university.  They will all begin undergraduate studies in various engineering disciplines later this year.

Last week, the three students shared their contributions to our research project at a tech/science fair.  Also in attendance, was my mentor-turned-collaborator, Professor Arun Misra.  Indeed, the five of us will be jointly published in the proceedings of the International Astronautical Congress that will be held in Washington D.C. this coming October.  Misra and I are sure to be there - the other three will join us, but only if they can cut classes for a few days.  This unique opportunity may actually justify doing so.

I must admit that I was initially unsure as to how much any college-level students could contribute to real-world research.  The 21st century seems to have equipped these resourceful students with enough tools to contribute a great deal.  I am encouraged by this, and am seeking funding that will allow me to grow and maintain S.E.R.G. for years to come.