Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Let's change our perspective!





One year in my career as a Ph.D. student. Too much of hard work, concentration, and stress. 
Because of the deadlines, small achievements, and the stress due to work I always forgot that I am a part of a project making from the Ph.D. life a good and an international experience. But how can a research project be a life experience? The answer is simple: we should just change our perspective
Change the way by which we are observing things.


different perspectives
When I came first to Lausanne to start my Ph.D., I did not know what to expect. I was afraid and at the same time I had a huge energy, I was happy because I will travel to do research and discover new places and cultures.
It was hard to leave my family and friends, to come to a new country where I do not know anyone. 
I was lucky to find my Iranian flatmate, a Ph.D. student like me.  She integrated me into the Ph.D. life very well: I started to discover her rich culture: civilization, tradition, meals, language, and people. We found a lot of similarities between our cultures. It was different from what media shows us. I learned that the best way to discover a culture is to meet and exchange with people. It was a nice experience.                      
Our Iranian - Moroccan table
Then I had the opportunity to meet the other ESRs in Infrastar project, from nine countries, and with our supervisors, we are 13 nationalities. How exceptional that with all our differences, we were working on the same project. I learned the real meaning of diversity and tolerance.
In the context of the project, we meet each other each year, and we have to do secondment in other places to collaborate with other ESR. My first secondment was in Berlin. I had the opportunity to discover the German culture, food, architecture, history, language and more. Now I am taking German courses.   
in Berlin wall

In addition, I made friends with many Chinese. I had the opportunity then to see how kind and modest they are. I ate different Chinese meals and discovered that my name is also Chinese name for girls. I wrote my name in Chinese characters and I decided to visit this country soon.
Being a Ph.D. student does not mean staying for 3 or 4 years in the office, in front of a computer. It is the art of doing science. I am giving my mind to research to be able to give my heart to culture, art, and languages. 
My name in Chinese

It was my sum up of 2017 from a different perspective.
I wish that this new year will be full of health, love, success and a lot of achievement. Happy new year to you all.
Infrastar team wishing you a happy new year


Thursday, 30 November 2017

The magic behind teamwork

Hi everyone,
   I hope you are all doing very well. Last week was the second training week of our project, where we meet students, supervisors and some guests to share ideas, projects, and research.
During this training week, we had the opportunity to follow different lectures, good ones and boring one as well, hhhhhh just joking.

                                                 Inauguration of our 2 training week


We also presented our research plan to define some collaboration between us. And inside this work atmosphere, we create funny and memorable moments.

                                                          Have dinner together

I want to share with you the most important and useful lecture for me. It is about the science of team working. During the last day, we had the opportunity to meet a special person who is using magic of psychology to improve team working. By the way of our sitting, he was thinking that we are not a team, Maybe!

He asked us to share unique thing with the others like an icebreaker activity. We started sharing normal things. He gives us then a moment of silence. After this activity he started to share with us personal touching details from his private life. It was strange. Even if we just meet him, he succeeded to touch us and win our respect. He asked us to do the same. Some people did, and the stories were sad. I kept silent because I don't have a sad story, I have a different story. I want to share it with all of you:  I am a feminist and proud to be. I cannot be friend of people who underestimate women in any way. We still can talk, be normal but never more. For the team working, respect and even friendship are needed. So for me, people like that cannot be a part of my team. In the opposite I appreciate too much people who show respect to women in front of me (their friends, girl-friend, wife or daughter), they will be always special for me even if I don't say it. Thank you for making the world nice place for us.  No one knows this about me, or maybe you do. But it is a unique private thing that I am sharing with you. 


                                                           Icebreaker: me breaking the ice 😜

After this hard activity, it was time for fun. He asked us to write and vote for general values that we judge important for our teamwork.

                                            mmmm Thinking about our team values

And the result:

We found with democratic voting that Pleasure, Creativity, Curiosity and Trust are the most important  values for us to ensure good collaboration.
Wish us good luck for the next year.


Greeting from Lausanne, Switzerland

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Communication for research

Hi dear friends,
I am back to Switzerland, to my school EPFL. It was two wonderful secondment months in Berlin.




Just after coming back, I had the opportunity to participate in the communication-for-research course to learn how to communicate with people in order to share knowledge. Using words on papers, drawings, posters, talks or videos, how can we reach our interlocutors? improve our language?
the teachers give us pieces of advice. I will share with you the best off  and the video that I make to practice their advice.
1. Practice your presentation until it becomes natural
2. Use body language to reflect what you are telling
3. Use colors but respect contrast and blinded color people (red is seen like green)
4. Make your friends correcting your writings before sending to your supervisor
5. Discuss ideas with friends (from discussion we develop knowledge).
6. Posters, blogs, drawing and videos are the best simple ways to share scientific knowledge





Friday, 15 September 2017

Working in Berlin

Hello dear friends, hope you are doing well. I want to tell you about my traveling to Berlin: 2 months of work and fun 😁.

Visiting Berlin museums with other ESRs working in Berlin
In the museum of science, we found  smart sewing machine, so we printed the logo of our project INFRASTAR discovering this interesting machine 😏

Horstwalde beam test
Having a hard working day in Horstwalde to try different non destructive technique for beam monitoring. 

The testing beam


Ultrasonic - Coda wave Test
Sending and receiving Ultrasonic signal in embedded sensors to check any changes inside the concrete during the loading test.  


Ultrasonic Signal



Digital image correlation
 Check the progression of cracks during loading by measuring the changes in images

Stereo-photogrammetry 
 gives exact position of selected points before, during and after loading test

Fiber optics
 give the strain and the frequency of vibration during loading test

Accelerometers
 measure the proper acceleration of the beam during the loading test

LVDT sensors
measure the linear displacement and gives the flexion of the beam during the loading test


Thursday, 31 August 2017

Bridge-Visit in Switzerland


Already six months after the beginning of my PhD. I am working actually in the Laboratory of Maintenance and Safety of Structures MCS in l’EPFL with INFRATAR, the European Marie Curie Project (you can check my first post for more information).
I am working on the safety of bridges to find how we can monitor existing bridges for fatigue problem detection. My work is hard, but it is also funny and cool (I am not staying all the time in front of my computer; we have to visit bridges frequently).
I am switching between the simulation word and the real world of bridges. Oftentimes I spend hours in front of my computer analysing the data from monitoring, and sometimes I need to visit our lovely bridges to check if the data acquisition system is going well.
 
Let us take a look of different bridges that I discovered once during one of our bridge-visit.
The bridges are situated in Switzerland between Lausanne and Bern.

The first picture is about preparing the deck to receive a thin layer of Ultra-High Performance Fibre Reinforced Concrete (UHPFRC) for strengthening.       

 Figure 1 Strengthen the bridge deck with a thin layer of UHPFRC


Figure 2 Layer of UHPFRC


                                                          
                                                         Figure 3 Smooth design of RC bridge
 

Visiting the railway bridge to check the monitoring system and to get the load records.
Using strain gages (picture in your right) allows good understanding of the structural behaviour of the bridge. Can you imagine that this small gage, once installed in specific positions, can give us an idea about how this huge structure is working? 

                                                        Figure 4 Railway steel bridge  

This bridge is made just with concrete, without any reinforcement. It is amazing. I am wondering about the magic recipe for such a beautiful and good concrete.  Besides, it is a very nice design.
 

                                                              Figure 5 Arch bridge

My last picture is a panoramic view of Chillon Bridge, in Morge.

                                                                 Figure 6 Chillon bridge


We went inside the bridge girder to get the recoded data from our monitoring system. 
                                       Figure 7 Strain Gage installed in the box girder
 

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

About my PhD 😊

Hi everyone,
First, I want to present you my blog 😊.
In the context of my PhD work, my program Infrastar, Marie Curie actions, assists us to write frequently a friendly journal about our work or PhD life for our personal development. Oooh yes! With Marie Curie Project, the PhD is not just a lot of articles simulations and experiments, there is more…
What? Mmmm

Traveling around the world with training weeks and obligatory secondments (Berlin (Germany), Lausanne (Switzerland), Paris (France), Krakow (Poland), Alborg (Denmark), I don’t remember the others πŸ˜‹. The program enables us also to work with people from different countries and to collaborate and share knowledge, culture and experiences. I do not want to give you just good points about this program but the salaries are also high than normal PhDs πŸ˜. 

I have discovered Marie Curie program by luck in ABG (http://www.intelliagence.fr/ ). I wanted to work in civil engineering research; I have searched many different topics until I found this program. The conditions to apply were difficult (hhhh at least for me πŸ˜‘), it is not just about your resume and cover letter but you should present all your degrees and write at least four pages to explain the topic in which you are interested (12 topics in different countries). To be honest, I was a bit afraid when I saw that I should explain the topic and that the project is EuropeanπŸ’­πŸ’­. I was thinking that even if I write very good introduction and present all the documents, they would not choose me, since I am not European.  However, in the next days I could not stop thinking about the global experience I can have with such kind of PhD ❤ . 
EPFL, Rolex Center, Lausanne Switzerland


Therefore, I start looking for the conditions of preselection: In brief, you should have a master degree or equivalent and choose a topic in a country where you stayed less than one year (funny condition). Besides, the supervisors should not give the position to their students or family (good…).
This transparency motivated me to apply 😊.  
I put all my effort to understand the topic and to write a good presentation. And since I was too motivated to participate in the project, I was too insistent: I write many emails πŸ‘€ to ask about the progress of preselection until I was accepted πŸ˜Œ (I can share all the details with you if you are interested by such a program πŸ˜‰ )
So, I have started my PhD on the first February 2017 in l’EPFL Lausanne.

I am participating now in a European project called Infrastar (http://infrastar.eu/ ) including 12 participants from 10 different countries (Morocco meπŸ˜‹, Italy, China, Iran, India, Philippines, Lebanon, Russia, Poland and Bangladesh).
The idea behind this program is to develop an international network, to made collaborations between industries and universities, to share free knowledge and to assist PhD students to improve their personal and soft skills.
Dear friends, if you are searching for a Marie Curie PhD whatever the field, you can find the proposition hereπŸ‘‰πŸ‘‰: http://ec.europa.eu/research/mariecurieactions/
Moreover, if you are already doing your PhD, make some time for your self-development, try to convince your supervisor to publish free articles for a free knowledge and do not forget to travel a lot during conferences πŸ˜ƒ .
Wish you good luck πŸ‘.
Imane