Saturday, 2 June 2018

Step by step towards experimental campaign

Hello everyone!

One important part of my PhD research within INFRASTAR is an experimental campaign on R-UHPFRC beams (Reinforced Ultra High Performance Fibre Reinforced Cementitious composite).

This complex name stands for combination of UHPFRC and reinforcement bars, as known from reinforced concrete. I will not spoil the fun and reveal all the details for now - wait for it ;)

Currently I am getting step by step closer to the experiments themselves. But, there is a long way behind me already.

The origin of campaign takes back to the end of last year, when I was getting ready for my candidacy exam (read here) and I had to come up with ideas. I have decided to look at the problem of steel reinforcement and UHPFRC long term behaviour. This topic is relevant, as more and more structures are built every year, and it largely still hasn't been explored.

Since the beginning of 2018, fight for materials started. Finally, UHPFRC and reinforcement arrived to EPFL around May.





Then, there was time for material testing,

strain gauges gluing,

formwork preparation,

and the trial casting!

It even fitted the support that our technician fabricated for me!

For now, I have casted just the trial beam. But once I know the system works, I will start an extensive casting campaign this month! And, the first tests in July.

I will let you know!

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Art of engineering

Hello everyone,

Lately, I've been taking part in 1st INFRASTAR implementation day (more info here). It was held by BASt (Federal Highway Research Institute) near Cologne, Germany.

Once there, I took a chance to walk the city and its riverbank. They have couple of road and railway bridges over there. This brought some thoughts to my mind.

According to the European codes, the design service life of a bridge is around 100 years. During that time, the traffic and the demands that we, a society, impose on a structure can change considerably. Just think of how the road traffic changed between 1918 and now!

One of the common cases, especially in case of bridges within the city limits, is need of widening of a bridge to accommodate higher number of cars, trains etc. But, this must be done not only under economical, but also under architectural constraints.

One of ways to widen the bridge is to add new, parallel structure. This strategy was used in two cases in Cologne.

In case of the railway bridge, a new structure was built next to existing one. Same material (steel) and type of structure was used, so that it is difficult to say the difference from the distance. But, closer look, reveals the progress that happened in civil engineering during the time.



Another case is a road-pedestrian bridge. Here, two different material were used (concrete and steel) but, to keep the nice look and compatibility, the box-girders were formed in similar way.

These two cases show, that an engineer needs to think of aesthetics, as well!

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

My education at EPFL



Hello everyone,

I have just finished the last courses within the EPFL ENAC doctoral school, thus I’d like to tell you how it works in here.

During the doctoral studies, which last for four years, the candidate is obliged to obtain 12 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) points. One ECTS is equal to 25-30 hours of work, so 12 ECTS can be understood as 8.5 working weeks - seems easy.

During the first year (so before the candidacy exam that I have passed in December) at least 4 credits need to be obtained, and one of the core courses has to be passed. The core courses are meant to be universal, applicable for researchers of various specialisations and teach how to conduct the good research, analyse the data etc.

The 4 credits per year does not seem to be much. But I have noticed, and this is my personal view, that the difficulty of obtaining the points varies from university to university. In here, it is particularly difficult. In fact, if you want to transfer the points for the courses you’ve been attending somewhere else, you obtain less credits than people in the other places! This happened to me, when for the summer school at DTU I got 5 ECTS instead of 7.5, as all my other colleagues who took it with me did. All in all, getting 12 ECTS is harder than it seems.

The first year at EPFL is sometimes treated as a preparatory year. During this time the PhD candidate should deepen the knowledge, prepare the research plan and present it during the candidacy exam. I have decided that during this preparatory year I’ll take all the necessary courses, so that I can profit from this knowledge. So far, I have passed the following:
·                     Introduction to digital signal processing using Matlab, applied to environmental sciences and civil engineering (2 ECTS) – for better analysis of signals obtained during monitoring of structures
·                     Design of experiments (4 ECTS, core course) – for optimal design of experimental campaign
·                     Fracture Mechanics and Fatigue of Structures (2 ECTS) – for better understanding of fatigue phenomena
·                     New Concretes for Structures (2 ECTS) – for better understanding of UHPFRC
·                     Uncertainty and Sensitivity Analysis of Numerical Models (Summer school at DTU, 5 ECTS according to ENAC) – for producing better models of concrete and UHPFRC in fatigue, including stochastic models
·                     Two INFRASTAR training weeks (1 ECTS each) – to get the overall view of fatigue problem. The third one is scheduled for June 2018

So, in total I have obtained 17 ECTS, more than enough during the doctoral studies. Thanks to that, and being supported by the knowledge I have gathered, for the next three years I can focus on the research only!

I will keep you updated during that time.

Stay tuned!

Friday, 5 January 2018

The new year!

Hello everyone

I have really started my adventure with INFRASTAR and EPFL almost exactly one year ago.

2017 was extremely fruitful to me, including the new knowledge that I have gathered.

Especially the last weeks of the year were quite busy. At EPFL the first year of PhD is to some extend preparatory. It is the time to get into the field of works and prepare the schedule for the rest of the four years PhD program. After the first year, the candidacy exam takes place.

Mine happened on 21.12.2017, so just before the Christmas break.
I had to present my achievements so far, and the detailed research plan and schedule to the jury. Then, some difficult questions about the scientific background followed.
The exam itself is quite similar to the PhD private defense, except that no experts from outside of EPFL are invited. It is to check not only the planning and knowledge, but also the "soft" skills, so how do the candidate react on difficult questions, how he or she formulates the answers etc.

After the successfully passed exam and the whole year of hard work, I went for my Christmas holidays.

Since we are still in the very beginning of the new year, I wish to everyone the very happy 2018!

Best,
Bartek

Monday, 27 November 2017

Training week #2 at EPFL

Salut everyone!

Last week we have had the second Training Week within Infrastar. It took place at EPFL this time.

This was a great chance to talk to other ESRs and to open new fields of cooperation.

With Antoine I will be working on using his fibre optics in reinforced UHPFRC beams.

With Morteza we'll focus on planning the optimal campaign for short-therm monitoring of structures. The poster on this topic will be presented by ourselves during first Implementation Day at BASt symposium in Cologne, DE (more info here).

After the training week, full of new knowledge and ideas I am going back to work.

Stay tuned!


Thursday, 28 September 2017

Back to Lausanne

Time flies!

This is the end of my secondment in Aalborg.

During the stay, I have been working hard on probabilistic fatigue model of ordinary concrete in compression. My work will be useful (hopefully!) for guys from WP3 of Infrastar to calculate reliability of structures.

Aalborg is seeing me off with much worse weather then when I came here, so guess it is time to go back to Switzerland.

Tak Danmarg og vi ses!

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Secondment in Denmark

Hello Everyone!

Currently I am at Aalborg University of Technology in Denmark for my secondment.
I will work together with Joey Sima and Amol, and Gianluca will join us soon during his secondment at COWI.


Here, I will work on stochastic model for ordinary conrete in fatigue. That is why I started from taking part in summer school at DTU.


Stay tuned for more news!

Step by step towards experimental campaign

Hello everyone! One important part of my PhD research within INFRASTAR is an experimental campaign on R-UHPFRC beams (Reinforced Ultra Hig...