In June 2017, I was able to take part in a summer exchange programme between the University of Edinburgh and ANNA University in Chennai India. As one of the top ranking universities in India, I am very fortunate to have been afforded this opportunity.
Seventeen students from Edinburgh took part in the program alongside students from ANNA University. The course was entitled “Engineering and Technology for Social and Global Developments” and consisted of morning lectures and afternoon laboratory sessions. A wide range of topics were covered including; food technology, flood risk management and disaster resilience in urban development, climate change mitigation and environmental science. The lectures were based on the academics area of research and provided an insight into how their research was applicable in India, for example the development of new building materials to reduce the energy requirement (or requirement at all) of air conditioning units. As an aspiring researcher; it was exciting to learn about both how the research at ANNA had improved the lives of people in India and abroad and how they were planning to continue their positive impact.
Students at the end of the programme with directors of ANNA University
Outside class, we were able to explore Chennai and the surrounding towns with our course mates. This included visits to local temples and tourist sites, such as the Marina beach, which is the second longest beach in the world! At weekends we visited nearby cities and towns including Pondicherry, a coastal town that was used by French colonialists as a port and as a result has interesting an architectural mix between French and Indian styles. We also visited Auroville, an experimental township whose purpose, according to its founder Mirra Alfassa, “is to realise human unity.” During a visit to Mahabalipuram, we were able to visit temples that were built in the 7th and 8th centuries alongside Krishnas’ butter ball (shown below). Our final trip was to Kanchipuram, a town southwest of Chennai that is famous for both its important and vibrant temples and the high quality silks produced there. I could not fail to mention the incredible food we were able to eat throughout, from street food and local restaurants to food served within the temples, the journey was worth it for the food alone!
The group in Pondicherry
After a chaotic 4th year of University, two weeks away from Edinburgh and experiencing a different culture to my own was the perfect change before a busy summer. I was able to make lasting friendships with students from both Edinburgh and Chennai while experiencing a new culture and further developing my breadth of knowledge within engineering. Without the Principal’s Go Abroad Fund, I would not have been able to take part in this programme, thank you for the support!