I had the pleasure to join the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute for six months as a visiting researcher in the framework of my doctoral studies at Politecnico di Torino, Italy. I am a member of a research group called NavSAS (Navigation Signal Analysis and Simulation) which is a joint research group of Istituto Superiore Mario Boella and Politecnico di Torino. It is focused on the design and development of new technologies and systems related to Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS).
From Politecnico to FGI
The cooperation between such a research group and the department of Navigation and Positioning at FGI has already lasted for many years. Talking about the first collaboration between myself and FGI, it started in November 2016 in the framework of an EU's COST action called SaPPART (Satellite Positioning Performance Assessment for Road Transport). As this action allows young researchers to go to an institution in another COST Country to foster collaboration and to start or continue working on joint projects, I decided to spend two weeks at FGI.
Although it was only two weeks, this experience gave me the possibility to work closely with the researchers of the Department of Navigation and Positioning at FGI. Not only that, it was enough to let FGI become a serious candidate for spending a period abroad as a visiting researcher during my PhD studies. I still remember the white ’welcome to Finland’ snow and temperature around minus 10 degrees. It was cool. I liked it. I liked to go every day to that peaceful and quiet place away from the city centre where FGI is located. I liked the people at FGI, willing to help and share their knowledge even when I was only visiting for a short period and not a member of the team.
INSURE project: research activities and mobility actions
The fact that Dr Laura Ruotsalainen visited our research group at Politecnico di Torino for three months, during the summer 2017, strengthened our cooperation even more. Considering all these factors, which was the institution where I have applied to carry out my period as a visiting PhD student? …. FGI!
Together with the guidance of Professor Fabio Dovis (supervisor of my PhD) and Dr Laura Ruotsalainen, we identified a suitable period and a topic compliant with my research activities. Thus, I joined the group in October 2017 until April 2018 working on deeply-coupled GNSS, INS and Visual integration for interference resistant navigation in the ITS domain. During this time, I have worked in collaboration with the researchers of the department of navigation and positioning at FGI, under the precious supervision of Dr Laura Ruotsalainen. This work has been carried out in the framework of the INSURE project, which aims at improving robustness of GNSS receivers against intentional interference in GNSS and non-GNSS based localisation techniques.
Opportunity for professional growth
At the end of this experience I can draw my own conclusions. I am happy about my choice. I have gained so much from it. I have experienced another country, another culture, I have worked in a team with skilled and qualified people. Yes, spending the whole winter in Finland might be tough for people used to warmer temperatures. I believe that, at the same time, it might be pleasant if shared with the right people and by visiting the cool places around Finland. This was my case. It was nice to walk on the frozen sea, to experience the Finnish sauna, to visit Lapland and try the local food, and so on and so forth.
Finally, I can say that this experience has been extremely useful for my professional growth as well as for my cultural background so I would encourage any PhD student to apply for a period abroad.
This blog post is written by Calogero Cristodaro, PhD candidate at Politecnico di Torino, Italy. He has completed an exchange period of six months at FGI in the department of Navigation and Positioning under the supervision of Dr Laura Ruotsalainen.