Indian student here for research

Monday July 25 2011


Aakar Verma is a 21-year-old mechanical engineering student from New Delhi, India who loves sports. He found a paper on the Internet by LC's Dr. Eric Goff on the aerodynamics of a soccer ball, and emailed him. Their correspondence turned into a two-month research internship for Aakar this summer.

Dr. Eric Goff and Aakar Verma in the lab
Dr. Eric Goff and Aakar Verma used fluid dynamics to study auto racing.

Aakar helped Dr. Goff with a new textbook he is writing on the physics of sports. Aakar prepared problems and examples for the textbook based on his research while at LC.

"I learned about many sports I didn't know about," Aakar said. They included boxing, water skiing, horse racing, and skydiving, which he tried for himself while visiting relatives in Atlanta. "It was thrilling," he said with a broad smile. "It was amazing." He came back to the lab and used terminal speeds and aerodynamics to explain the dive in physical terms.

Aakar used fluid dynamics and scale models of cars to study auto racing. He also applied physics models to cricket, a sport he is well-versed in. He learned to use software and a motion sensor to understand a karate punch.

He said he learned a lot reading Dr. Goff's first book, Gold Medal Physics: The Science of Sports. During the 2010 Winter Olympics and World Cup, Dr. Goff was sought after for commentary in The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, and other media for his expertise on the physics of sports.

For his part, Dr. Goff said Aakar has been a big help to him, creating problems that he can use in his new book, which he sees as a general education physics text that he hopes to be able to teach from one day at Lynchburg College.

"Aakar is conscientious and hard working," Dr. Goff said. "It was a pleasure collaborating with him this summer. He stimulated my interest in cricket and other sports not so common in the U.S. Aakar has a bright future ahead of him."

Aakar said he appreciated the two months with Dr. Goff because he had the opportunity to get a broad range of experience. He particularly liked being able to scrawl on whiteboards to understand various physics concepts. "Dr. Goff had a big hand in making this possible," he said, noting that the College paid for his room on campus.

In addition to visiting relatives in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., he traveled to New York and Boston by train. In Lynchburg, he made his first visit to IHOP, and was astounded by the amount of food.

Aakar is in his final year at the Indian Institute of Technology-Roorkee and enjoys soccer, cricket, and basketball. He hopes to secure a good job in his field, and he's open to working anywhere. His first trip to the U.S. confirmed that.