The idea I used to have of a PhD student, is of someone who spends endless hours behind his computer, focused on one single task. The reality turned out to be rather different for me: hardly ever I get to spend a whole day on one single task, and typically I am juggling several tasks and trying to keep a bunch of projects on the rails.
Recently, I wrote a brief description of what the contents of my job are all about, so I wanted to share it here on the blog as well:
- Experimental research on slabs: continuously supported slabs of 2,5m x 5m x 0,3m. In total 38 specimens were cast and tested up to failure, and as of now, I did 160 experiments (and, along the road, something like a 2000 concrete cubes were tested to determine the cube compressive strength and the splitting tensile strength of the concrete at different points in time).
- Education: I just had my first lecture last week (in Concrete Structures II), I am teaching assistant for prestressed concrete and I supervise MSc thesis students.
- Calculate: I predict the capacity based on the current design codes, I check the forces with linear finite element calculations (most MSc thesis students work with non-linear finite element calculations - and we can learn a lot from that, so that might be something I will be spending some time on in the near future, provided that I can find some time), and monte carlo simulations to better assess the probability of failure.
- Case studies: some extra smaller tasks on existing bridges, as well as developing tools for the Ministry to quickly assess a large amount of the existing bridges. That assessment is an "OK" or a "needs more complicated calculations".
- The science part: writing papers, making posters, do some little tasks for committees here and there, get in touch with other researchers, go to conferences