Eonjoo Kim is fascinated by the ocean.
So it is little wonder she jumped at the chance to go halfway around the world to do fieldwork in one of the richest ocean ecosystems on earth.
“My great passion is to understand the complex control systems of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and the water current velocities around the vehicle,” Ms. Kim told the Gazette recently.
Oil spill research
Originally from South Korea, Ms. Kim is completing her PhD in ocean engineering at the Australian Maritime College (AMC) at the University of Tasmania.
Thanks to a unique partnership with the Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI), she is working with a team based in Memorial’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science led by her supervisor, Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research).
That group is looking at developing techniques and technologies to aid in oil spill response in Canada, a project that recently received more than $1.3 million in federal funding.
OFI’s Visiting Fellows Program recruits national and international experts to study and work at Memorial for several months. Ms. Kim arrived in mid-September and will be in the province until mid-January.
She is investigating various algorithms in an effort to estimate the velocity of ocean currents.
“Ultimately, I hope I can contribute to the AUV research such as an oil spill detection and tracking of animals or iceberg by enhancing efficiency and accuracy of AUV navigation.”
Intrigued by the ocean
Ms. Kim says her interest in marine-related research stretches back several years.
“I am lucky to work with great people who support my AUV mission.”
After obtaining her bachelor of engineering at AMC – where she majored in marine offshore engineering – she was intrigued by AUVs and decided to do postgraduate research. She also was a deck officer on a container ship and experienced how the ocean current and waves affect vessels.
“I wanted to see how AUVs can identify the ocean current and compensate in order to complete their mission without failure. I was keen to develop an enhanced guidance system to generate better paths, so AUVs can conduct missions more effectively and smoothly.”
Since arriving at Memorial, Ms. Kim has taken the Memorial Explorer, the university’s recently recommissioned AUV, through a series of sea trials and tests at the Holyrood marine base.
She credits Memorial’s Autonomous Ocean Systems Centre, a part of the university’s CREAIT Network, for helping with her fieldwork, especially the centre’s staff members Gina Millar and Craig Bulger.
“I am very grateful for their professional support for the setup and mission, and I am sure I wouldn’t be able to do the mission without their help and work,” she said.
“I am lucky to work with great people who support my AUV mission. I am so happy to be here at Memorial, to bring my knowledge to this team and learn from my many collaborators.”