Tuesday, 19 September 2017

A busy schedule of a Marie Curie PhD

Hi Fellows,

Have you enjoyed the summer? I hope you had fun!!

In this post I would like to talk a bit about the Marie Curie PhD life. Indeed, I am often asked to answer the following questions:

How is the life of a Marie Curie PhD student? Do you really work?

These questions are asked by both master students, who think about applying for a Marie Curie PhD, and common people that work in industry and have no idea about PhD academic life. 

For this reason, I am going to talk about the last three months of my PhD life, in order to explain how the life of a Marie Curie PhD student can be.

Firstly, on a daily base, I have to merge technical and non-technical work, such as the coding process for data analysis and drafting conference and journal papers, respectively. Although, the technical work is the main core of the research, due to the fact that it aims to push further the current state-of-the-art of the research topic, and it requires strong and wide background of statistic, engineering problem-solving, data analysis techniques, physics, coding in different languages, etc., the non-technical work is absolutely crucial. Indeed, the non-technical work allows to: i) investigate possible new directions for the research, by reading the work of other researchers; ii) describe and discuss the results of your own research, by drafting journal and conference papers.

However, the daily work, which has to be carried out accurately by adequately scheduling all the work activities, can be jeopardized by all the side activities that a research programme might have, for example, conferences, training courses and meetings.

With this respect, as I mentioned before, during the last three months, I worked daily on my research by continuing the development of innovative data-drive fault detection methods in order to monitor the health state of civil infrastructure, and by drafting and submitting journal and conference papers (here you can find the list of all my publications), but at the same time I have traveled quite a lot in order to present the results of my research at three international conferences and to attend an awesome training course.

The three conferences where I have presented and discussed my work are:

  1. the 52nd European Safety, Reliability & Data Association (ESReDA) conference, which was held in Kaunas, Lithuania, 30-31 May 2017. Here, I presented a paper titled "Towards a real-time structural health monitoring of railway bridges", which aimed to discuss how the real-time monitoring of bridges can improve the safety, reliability and availability of the whole transportation network, by showing an example of a real-time monitoring method that I have developed during my PhD, Figure 1. 
  2. the European Safety and Reliability (ESREL) conference, which was held in Portoro┼ż, Slovenia, 18-22 June 2017. During this conference, I showed a paper titled "A fuzzy-based Bayesian Belief Network approach for railway bridge condition monitoring and fault detection". The paper discussed a method to assess the health state of a bridge by relying on the analysis of the measurements of the bridge behavior, which are provided by the sensors that are installed on the bridge, and by considering the knowledge of the bridge managers and engineers, Figure 2.
  3. the 11th International Workshop on Structural Health Monitoring (IWSHM), which was held at the Stanford University, California, USA, 12-14 September 2017. In Stanford, I presented the results of a work that I carried out for AECOM, which is one of the most important engineering firm of the world, in a paper titled "A data mining tool for detecting and predicting abnormal behavior of railway tunnels". In this paper, a data mining method was developed in order to analyse a vast database of measurement of the behavior of a railway tunnel. The aim of the data analysis was to point out the most critical area of the tunnel and to predict the future behavior of the tunnel by the means of an Artificial Neural Network (ANN), Figure 3. 

Figure 1. Presenting my research at the ESReDA conference.  
Figure 2. Presenting at the ESREL conference.

Figure 3. Discussing the results of my research at the IWSHM conference in Stanford.

In order to improve my technical skills, I have attended a summer school in Yokohama, Japan, for three weeks, from mid-July to the beginning of August. The summer school, which is called "Asia-Pacific-Euro Summer school (APESS)", aimed to discuss the most recent advancement for smart structure technology by giving a huge networking opportunity to the researchers. In fact, more than 60 researchers from Europe, Asia and America participated to the summer school, and lecturers from all around the world given talk and classes on the most advanced techniques for structural health monitoring and data analysis. Figure 4 shows the picture of the APESS class 2017!!

Figure 4. APESS class of 2017.

Finally, in the last months I participated to the Open Day of the University of Nottingham, where ESR13, Federico, and I talked to the possible future students of the University in order to show some interesting experiments and give to them some useful tips about the university life. You can find more information about the Open Day here.

That's all Folks!

Hope you enjoyed this post.