I am finally in the lab! After a cumulative 17-hour drive (broken into only two days), I moved into the University Suites at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I started my first day of work on Monday. Since it was Memorial Day, the office was rather quiet. This gave Brittany and I a perfect chance to hang out and set me up while it was still relaxed. The two of us along with Brittany’s husband, my graduate mentor, and an undergraduate from the lab went to lunch just to enjoy ourselves before we got to work. Afterwards, I went back to the lab to start some quick training programs. I also got the chance to start flying some of the drones. My first attempt ended with the drone stuck in the ceiling-net, which I had to grab the ladder to get down. But my mentor assured me that I was not the first nor the last to get a drone stuck there this week, so I had nothing to worry about. By day two, I was able to control the drone much better. I didn’t get it stuck in the net once! My first full day included me figuring out how to download the software that I would be using this summer. It was an uneventful day full of loading screens and tutorials. I learned that asking for help from my mentor, Siya, is a much better plan than struggling for an hour or two on a simple problem. I found a flow when going through the tutorials and was able to get through a good amount by the end of the day. Which was perfect, as it gave me a clear head as I went to see the new Star Wars movie that afternoon with the other students in the lab.
The following three days were filled with a similar routine of ROS tutorials, flying drones, and reading research papers so that I could better understand the work in this lab. On Thursday, we did a lab clean up to get ready for the other REU students, who are coming Monday. I scheduled to take my drone flying test on Friday. This test included hovering in place for 30 seconds, landing on a 2×2 square, and a few other obstacles. Sadly, I did not pass. These little drones are so much harder to fly than AJ made it seem. I would have to keep practicing to be ready for my re-do test this coming Thursday. But by the end of this week, I had made great strides in the new tasks I was given. Although I had failed the test, my drone flying skills were so much better than day one when I got it stuck in the net. I have completed the ROS tutorials, and although I am no expert, I will be ready to help the other students as they learn next week. I also have a much better understanding of the work I will be doing from reading the papers Siya gave me. After this week, I am very excited to get started on my project and work in this lab for the whole summer!