August 05, 2011

At Georgia Tech's Combustion Lab, you're never too young to learn

Pritam shows cousin Sarda how a vortex tube works

If somebody wants to be in the lab, if science interests him, we have to provide the platform to do that.

— Dr. Yedidia Neumeier, principal research engineer and adjunct professor, Georgia Tech, School of Aerospace Engineering

Last summer, while reviewing the draft of Pritam Adhikari's personal essay for his college applications, I learned about his compelling dream of a career related to aviation — a dream he developed in Beldangi-2, a Bhutanese refugee camp in Nepal, and nurtured across continents and cultures despite a dizzying array of traumas, demands, and challenges following ethnic cleansing of 100,000 fellow ethnic-Nepali Bhutanese in their homeland, Bhutan.

And it struck me that polishing Pritam's standout essay was secondary to introducing him to my longtime friend, Dr. Yedidia Neumeier. The pair bonded quickly — the Israeli-born Orthodox Jew and the native Bhutanese son of a Hindu priest. Yedidia invited Pritam to join David and Moshe (he dubbed the trio, the "Three Musketeers") this summer in an intriguing project in Yedidia's lab.

David (Yeshiva HS, NYC), Moshe (Yeshiva Atlanta),
Pritam (Druid Hills HS, Atlanta), and Yedidia
The project? Investigating vortex tubes — the scientific phenomena and design of these effective, low-cost solutions to industrial spot cooling and process cooling needs.

On completing their project in the Combustion Lab, the "Three Musketeers" presented the fruits of their summer activities. In a wood-paneled seminar room of the storied School of Aerospace Engineering, Dr. Neumeier introduced the high school students and their guests and described the project purpose and methodology. Each student explained what he had learned, illustrating key points using presentation slides.

Family, friends, and graduate students paid rapt attention.

Following a robust Q&A, the group drove across campus to the Combustion Lab where Yedidia explained early aerospace technology.

And, the guests experienced "hands-on" a vortex tube in operation.

In their project presentation, a concluding slide on "What we gained and learned from our time at Georgia Tech" summarized what the students had learned: "How to set up a proper experiment, take good data, and understand our results." And, I reflected on other lessons they had learned — meeting fellow students from different cultures and backgrounds and working together as one team honoring everyone's talents and creativity.

May they and their devoted teacher, mentor, and ally continue to go from strength to strength! And to Yedidia: תודה רבה, רבה — many thanks!

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Pitamber Adhikari: "Though I am financially poor, mentally, I’m rich!"