Friday 18 December 2020

End of the year, end of the PhD

 Hello everyone,

I didn't write for quite some time - and it has been a busy time.

Since my last post, I have managed to:

  •  submit the doctoral thesis
  •  finish testing of the additional specimens from my experimental campaign
  •  pass the private doctoral examination
  •  get rid of all the specimens and clean up the testing rig in laboratory which was serving me for last 2 years
The testing rig seems very sad, already partially dismantled and temporary covered with other elements... it is difficult to believe that just a week ago there was a test going on there! 

The end of this year marks the end of an important stage of my life - the doctoral studies. In few days I will be no more a doctoral student of EPFL.

However, it doesn't mean I quit it completely. In fact, I still cannot use the title of doctor (and receive my diploma) before the public defense, open to everyone. But, I have decided to wait for better time hoping to make it in person. I still have almost half of a year to do so - will keep you updated.

But, for now, it is time to get some rest and enjoy the last days of 2020 with my family.

Take care you all!

Saturday 10 October 2020

Coronavirus ate my dessert

 Hello everyone,

in the last post I have mentioned the dessert which I've prepared to end my experimental campaign.

Together with team of dr. Odile Abraham from Université Gustave Eiffel, Nantes, we have planned an interesting test. I have executed two unusual T-shaped UHPFRC beams with steel reinforcement bar at mid-height (same as this one). They were supposed to instrument the beams with ultrasonic devices and use their novel measurement technique to detect and estimate the length of cracks and discontinuities.

Not only this technique was never tried for UHPFRC, but also (as far as I know) it was neither tested on element exposed to fatigue loading!

Originally we've planned to commence the test on 16th of March. This happened to be the exact date of the lockdown in Switzerland due to COVID-19 pandemic. Obviously, we had to postpone the test.

Back in the early summer, we've set the new date of commencement of the test for the beginning of October. But, again, the pandemics has spoiled our plans - since mid-September all visitors from Nantes region (and almost whole France) need to stay for 10 days quarantine after entering Switzerland. Unfortunately, this made us to cancel this much expected cooperation. The fatigue testing takes more than a month, and my contract at EPFL ends in less than 12 weeks, so we didn't have any more chance to run it in later period....

Of course, I am still running the test without them - I use multiple measurement techniques, automatized and synced so the experiment can run 24/7. 

  Still, it is a shame that we were not able to run the experiment together...

It is truly difficult to conduct the international research during this special time of pandemic.

Monday 24 August 2020

The end of experimental campaign! (...almost)


A great day has come. After almost two years (first test executed in September 2018) the last beam that will be included in my doctoral thesis failed in fatigue!

It has been quite a journey... and quite many beams are waiting to be disposed of. 

Now, it is time to analyze the data and write, write, write... Two months left until submission deadline for manuscript of my thesis!

Of course, I wouldn't be myself without leaving some dessert - another test will come soon, but I'll let you know once it starts.

Take care!

Thursday 21 May 2020

Coronavirus and confinement

Hello everyone,

I wrote my last post on this blog exactly three months ago... quite many changes happened in our lives since then.

Due to COVID situation, at some point half of global population was locked, or partially locked, at home. I can still consider myself to be lucky: firstly, because Switzerland did not put in place as restrictive measures as some other countries, and secondly because I could work efficiently from home. Furthermore, I don't need to worry about economic perturbations until end of my contract at EPFL, while some will struggle... not mentioning people who lost their loved ones.

Having said that, let me show the positive side of this new situation.
EPFL was officially shut down on Monday March 16. It was the day when I was supposed to start another fatigue test with French colleagues (which we still hope to run towards end of this year). As one of the most important features of human being is adaptability, on that day I grabbed my laptop and notes, and locked myself at home. Since the nowadays wisdom is stored in memes, I heeded this one (no idea who did it):

As long as it is not certain whether Shakespeare really wrote this tragedy during the plague (though probable: I think it really fitted my situation.

Now, two months later (time flies!) we are slowly leaving the confinement. As for me, one paper is submitted to the journal, another one should be in few days and two others are well advanced. I was even able to come back to the laboratory in beginning of May, so another fatigue test is ongoing.

I think that there is a good lesson we can take from this whole situation. As far as most of us are not directly affected with COVID-19, it's rather the indirect influence that we need to face - change of our daily routines. But no matter the circumstances, we need to look for positive aspects, adapt and push forward.

Stay positive!

Friday 21 February 2020

The end... but not yet!

Hello everyone,

the INFRASTAR project is done.

After three years of my participation as ESR (Early Stage Researcher), my contract has officially ended on January 1st... but not my PhD.

Since, unlike at most of the universities in Europe, doctoral studies takes usually around four years in ETH domain universities, thus ETHZ and EPFL, I still have couple of months, and plenty of work, to go. My goal is to defend by end of 2020, but it's a material for another post.

Here, I wanted to sum-up a bit the INFRASTAR project from my perspective. It's a good moment, as two weeks ago, on February 6, we have had the final workshop of our project in the capital of EU.

INFRASTAR, as every ITN project, means travelling. With kick-off meeting in Berlin back in 2016; three training weeks in Berlin, Lausanne and Aalborg; Spring School in Nantes; three implementation days in Cologne, Paris and Copenhagen; final meeting in Brussels and, finally, secondments in Aalborg and Paris... I have spent more than half a year out of Lausanne during last three years! All these trips resulted in new contacts, insights and ideas.

The project meant also cooperation. With Mariia and Antoine we've managed to prepare common papers, but I've had a chance to exchange thoughts and ideas with most of fellows. And, I've had an unique opportunity to meet professors and experts who have mastered their domains.

However, the crucial part of the project is feeling that you're not alone. You are not locked in the bubble of your own research. Contrary, you can see work, struggles and successes of the others. This helps a lot, especially during downs, which happen to everyone during the PhD.

Doing PhD within the ITN project is really fortunate, and I am genuinely happy that I could have been part of it. I can't even imagine how the last three years would have looked like without it.

But, now I am in a very short 2020 year. I'm counting days because each one shall be important this year...

Wish me luck!

Saturday 19 October 2019

Paris, Normandy, Montpellier, Millau... and Lausanne!

Hello everyone,
after three months, my secondment in Paris is done. Thus, it's time for a summary of this interesting period.

During my stay at EIFFAGE I was working on use of BSI® (market name for UHPFRC they have developed) in the bridge structures. It was a great chance to refresh my design skills, learn how this big company works... and try to challenge them a bit ;).
It was also period of verification of my linguistic skills. At EPFL we use mainly English, especially between PhDs. Thus, I have used my stay in France to check whether my French is good enough to live and work there... and it is! It gave me also fresh motivation to continue my language courses.

But, life is not only work, and life of engineer is not only design. While in France, I have had chance to travel a bit and visit couple of interesting bridge structures.

The first one is Pont de Normandie, longest cable-stayed span for some years. It's monumental, and the dumping system for cables reminds that we need to always think three steps ahead ;)

Sorry for the quality of photo, but to get this monster at one picture I had to step back quite far ;)

Another structure, interesting from architectural point of view, is bridge in Montpellier. These slender and organic-like piers were possible thanks to BSI®

One more impressive use of BSI® is the roof of the toll collecting point of Millau viaduct.

And finally, a cherry on top, the magnificent Millau viaduct. After reading so much about it, finally I have had chance not only to see it... but to visit it! Guys from EIFFAGE were so nice to show us (Mariia, Antoine and myself) everything, describe how the maintenance and its planning takes place... We could enter and touch whatever we wanted, from the safety surveillance center, through the deck up to the top of the pylon! And, importantly, that's not 'any' bridge, but the tallest one in the world! Take a look at its beautifully curved line on the photo below. No, it was not taken from the drone ;)

Now, charged with good energy I am back in Lausanne. I really liked Paris and work at EIFFAGE, but guess it's true what they say:

We can’t really appreciate home until we leave it

Bye, until next time!

Friday 26 July 2019

My secondment at EIFFAGE

Hello everyone,

As I have mentioned in my last post, currently I am living in Paris!

I have moved here for three months to join EIFFAGE for my secondment within INFRASTAR project.

In here, I am working on new high speed railway connection in England - HS2.
My task is to optimize structures originally designed with concrete and steel by use of UHPFRC. In this way, we can save money, time, raw materials... and build the railway line from 21st century.

This is a great opportunity to see how the UHPFRC market looks like in reality and face problems that might be encountered while applying this novel material.

And, of course, to spend some time around the beautiful Eiffel tower ;)

Wish me luck!

End of the year, end of the PhD

 Hello everyone, I didn't write for quite some time - and it has been a busy time. Since my last post, I have managed to:  submit the do...