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!


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!

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Saving the bridge

Hello everyone, long time no hear!

Lately, I was busy with saving the beautiful, historic bridge across river Kander near village of Eifeld, in Bern Canton. The bridge was built in the end on XIX century.
Here it is:

According to calculations of engineer, there is a problem with fatigue of the main beams. That is why he proposed to change them to new ones. Of course, this would change the way the bridge looks, not mentioning the cost...
That is why we have decided to perform the short-term monitoring to check the real efforts in the beams. After two days of work on-site, the monitoring was running automatically for one month.
The results shown clearly that no fatigue effect is possible, and the efforts were much smaller than calculated.

All in all, lots of money was saved thanks to this. And, most important, the monument was kept untouched.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Hello everyone!

This is my first post on this blog. During my research within Infrastrar programme I will try to describe here the most important steps toward results.

The title of my topic is "Fatigue of reinforced concrete structural element". When I was starting my journey with this topic, I was expecting that we don't know enough about this process in our existing structures, thus I will need to investigate materials that were used in old times in construction to assess the safety of concrete structures which are 30, 40 or 50 years old now.

However, during the literature study I have discovered that in this kind of structures fatigue is not an important problem. All the other kinds of deterioration are much more dangerous. Furthermore, after reading many books and articles on this topic, I realised that we already know quite much on that. Current research, although important and interesting, are rather pin-pointed. And I wanted to look wider.

After coming to EPFL I have made another discovery. It seems that UHPFRC (Ultra High Performance Fibre Reinforced Cementitious composite, more information here) about which I have heard a bit during my BSc. studies, and which was treated as material of future which probably won't be used quite soon... is not the material of future anymore! It seems it is being used in real structures, like bridges, roofs, beams etc. for almost two decades now.

Then, I have decided that I need not to only look broader, but also towards future. We should get to know the material, and prove to people that it is safe to use, and structures can be durable. One of questions is its fatigue behaviour, so what will happen to the bridge after one million trucks will pass it?

Luckily, at EPFL, where I am working now, there are other people who ask those questions. That's how I am sure this is the perfect place for me. And, during following three years in Infrastar (and four years in total, since here PhD programme lasts four years) I will be working on fatigue of UHPFRC. And will keep you informed.

PS.: Remember what I have heard about UHPFRC during my studies in Poland, where I come from? Unfortunately, this material has never been used there yet. Hopefully, I will make it happen, at least I will try... Once it will change from dream to plan, I will let you know!

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 i...