Thanks for all the great ideas!
Posted by: mbkayak on Nov-09-12 2:44 PM (EST)
They are giving me something to chew on for a while or at least fantasize about...especially being a kayak ranger in Alaska. ;) Though it's also a good reality check about the difficulties in finding a stable, long-term career in the field.
Another engineering-related idea could be to work on optimizing boat design using computer modeling (computational fluid dynamics). I saw some impressive work done in support of Olympics rowing. You can test various refinements of hull shape, for example, to see the effect on drag or other performance characteristics. However, this would require some costly computing resources. And such modeling requires a lot of assumptions that may or may not translate into an accurate measure of performance for conditions encountered in reality. I'm sure it is also difficult to quantify what makes for a kayak with pleasing performance, as people have different ideas about how a boat should handle (e.g., regarding stability characteristics and maneuverability versus speed), and there are so many variables on top of that (paddler size and weight, etc.).
I've also thought it could be interesting to combine kayaking with scientific studies (collecting samples in hard-to-reach coastal areas), surveying geology or wildlife, etc.