The next few weeks we will be having the MSc oral exams in the CCE Division in which students will have to summarize and defend their work in front of the examination panel. I am sure every person has his own list of tips and “do’s and don’ts” on how to face these type of exams although a viva can go in many different directions depending on your work, the examiner and other factors. We all have heard the typical wise advice of “be relaxed, be confident, be prepared”, tips which might lead to the exact opposite: that would be panic.

What are you best tips for a successful viva?

Here are some random thoughts I had on this based on my experience which you might find useful or not towards preparing for you viva… Continue reading »

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“Anti–pollution clothing invented” – this was one of the news headlines a few days ago. Well, this is another gift from the emergence of nanotechnology. According to the inventors, “any item of clothing could be treated, but in order for the technology to work you need light. So, for example, you wouldn’t want to coat your underpants”.  Simple but interesting estimates proposed were that if all the 10 million people living in London take one gram of coating out, this would consume 10 ten tons of nitrous oxide in London every day.

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Can we build concrete boats? At first, one might think that this is impossible since regular concrete is 2.3 times denser than water. However, steel is even heavier than concrete and we still use steel to build large boats. The answer to this physical problem was given by Archimedes over 2000 years ago; his principle states “a body immersed in a fluid experiences a buoyancy force equal to the weight of the fluid it displaces”. Therefore, to build a concrete boat we only need to design a concrete container so that the buoyancy force balances the vertical force (including self weight).

Indeed, we can build boats made out of concrete. Civil Engineering students in the USA know this well as concrete canoe races between rival Universities is a very popular event. First concrete boats were built in the 19th century in Europe by J.L. Lambot (Southern France, 1848) and C. Gabellini (Italy, 1890s). An interesting historical application was the portable floating reinforced concrete (RC) harbours used during the WWII on the D-day in the “Operation Mulberries” which were used to transport troops and heavy vehicles from England to Normandy (see here for details about construction).

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