MSciTech in Photonics and Optoelectronics
The idea of living in Australia
for a few years had always appealed to Asbjorn Frisvoll, so when
he found exactly the course he wanted to study at UNSW, there was
no stopping him.
“I wanted to study science, especially
physics, but I also wanted to study engineering. This was a problem,
until I discovered, on the Internet, the Engineering Physics course
at UNSW,” Asbjorn said via e-mail from Trondheim, on Norway’s west
“Of course I was in Norway and
the course was in Australia but that only made the idea more attractive.
I had always wanted to go to Australia so I enrolled as an international
student and headed south.
“I soon realised I had made a very
good decision. The course was just what I wanted and I managed to
pack in more travelling while I was there – from Tasmania to the
Barrier Reef and a lot of other places in between. Of course I had
to take advantage of UNSW's Study Abroad program as well. That meant
a year at the University of Nottingham, which was not hard to take,
except for the beer.
“Back at UNSW I finished my course at the end of 2001,
then spent another year doing a MSciTech in Photonics and Optoelectronics.
“Then it was back to Norway and
looking for a job in a tough employment market, but my years of
study in Australia helped me get a job working with a new cutting-edge
ocean bottom geophysical surveying technique.
“I am based in Trondheim, ironically
half an hour from where I grew up, and have a great job as a field
geophysicist – even though it is on the ocean – working on a survey
ship, the Geo Angler for a Norwegian oil survey company called ElectroMagnetic
GeoServices. You can read about it at www.emgs.no
are using a new technique for oil and gas exploration, and I don’t
mean binoculars. With traditional seismic logging of the ocean floor,
one can distinguish between geological layers, and see where there
are potential oil or gas reservoirs.
upon drilling, which is a very expensive affair, these reservoirs
might not contain anything. With our technique we can distinguish
between layers of different electrical resistivity. Oil and gas
have high resistivities and, with the information from seismic surveying
the presence of hydrocarbons can be established with more certainty
before deciding on expensive test drilling.
practice we are towing a 200-metre antenna outputting an electromagnetic
pulse up to 1000 amps in the sea behind the ship, and the data are
collected by independent data loggers that we deploy. The equipment
has been used down to a depth of 2000m.
“I am responsible for the quality
of the data collection and various tasks like maintaining the onboard
collection equipment. We spend five weeks at sea and five weeks
processing the data onshore. Then we have five weeks’ holiday.
“At the moment we are mapping the
North Sea for Norwegian oil companies but the company is preparing
to do surveys all over the world. Angola, Brazil and India have
been mentioned and I might even turn up again in Australia.
“I was very lucky to get this job,
as the papers are full of articles about rising unemployment here
[in Norway] and with the offshore additional bonus they pay a pretty
penny too. As you can imagine, this great job gives me more reasons
for having the best memories of my time in Australia,” Asbjorn said.
(This article appeared in Chaos
Magazine, Issue 24, September 2003)