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Brent George: Electrical and Computer Engineering Capstone

What type of projects did you work on as part of your Experiential Learning course?

We were sponsored by Polar Bears International, the leading polar bear research institution in the world, to develop a procedure for using radar to detect polar bear dens. Current non-radar methods have an accuracy of less than 40%, which hurts conservation efforts and tracking of populations affected by climate change. We collaborated with another university and world-renowned polar bear researchers to conduct two experiments in Canada and Norway to test our new radar based method.

What day to day tasks were part of this experience?

I completed engineering tasks to design an effective procedure that could be used in various locations.

What did you learn unexpectedly? 

I learned the logistical challenges of conducting experiments across international boundaries.

How has this experience influenced your career goals? 

This experience made me more open to doing research for a career. I never considered it since I considered all research to be like academia, but the culture at Polar Bears International is very unique and showed me a side of research I hadn't seen before.

What types of new opportunities are now available because of the experience?

Our group has the potential to have our work published and used for real polar bear conservation efforts in all the Arctic countries. If I wanted to pursue a job in this area I would now have the connections in this very small network that is hard to break into.