We are currently seeking to recruit a Research Fellow on the EPSRC funded project “Structural performance of slab-column connections under impact and blast loading”. The project will look at the dynamic behaviour of this type of joint regions (Fig. 1) in order to develop a mechanical model that can be applied in design and analysis.

Fig. 1- Dynamic response of RC flat slab-column connection subjected to impact and blast loading

Applications are open until the 29th of October 2012. Full details about the application process and job description can be found in our website (job opportunities).

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My colleagues and I were having lunch whilst the TV screens were showing the BBC news one day last week.  The news was coming in about an explosion in a furnace at a nucler installation in the South of France.  The news reader may well have said ‘at a nucear power plant’ but I can’t verify that.  I and my colleagues immediately thought ‘Why would there be a furnace at a nucler power plant?’.  All the non-engineers this bulletin would probably have been thinking either  ‘Surely not another accident at these dangerous nuclear facilities; is it another Fukushima?’ or ‘Nuclear + accident just conforms my view that these things are just too dangerous’.

Those bothering to follow the story like myself and my colleagues soon discovered that our bewiderment was significant.  This was an incident at a facility melting down irradiated metal from a nuclear power plant;  so called low level waste.   The heat needed to melt the metal was being supplied by a furnace using a conventional fuel and there had been a explosion in the conventional furnace as can happen anywhere there is a furnace.  There was very little chance of a leak of dangerous material and the amount that could escape was also small.

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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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A few weeks ago, the Fédération Internationale du Béton (fib) sent me the pictures from the fib Symposium in Prague which I attended. During this conference I had the enjoyable experience of receiving the 2011 fib Achievement Award for Young Engineers in the research category (see fib website). The award was given in memory of Ivar Holand an outstanding structural engineer and professor in Structural Mechanics from Norway best known as one of the pioneers of computer-based finite element method for structural analyses with significant contributions in the field of large offshore concrete structures and development of high strength concrete.

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Lord Alan Sugar (picture taken from Wikimedia)

Having followed The Apprentice for quite a while I felt highly disappointed a couple of weeks ago when Lord Sugar fired senior software design engineer Glenn on the basis that engineers make bad businessman. Lord Sugar mentioned “I have never yet come across an engineer that can turn his hand to business”. If I had the opportunity I would like to invite Lord Sugar to Madrid to watch together a football game in the Bernabeu stadium, home ground of Real Madrid football team. Perhaps whilst watching the game I could explain to him that 10 year ago Real Madrid had a deficit of 270m€ and were struggling financially. Lord Sugar would be surprised to know that it was the entrepreneurial vision of a civil engineer called Florentino Perez who managed to turn around the situation. Currently Real Madrid is the wealthiest football club in the world with a revenue this year of around 400m€ even though they have spent fortunes on buying megastar players such as Zidane and Ronaldo most recently for the small amount of 90m€.

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First of all, let me take the opportunity to welcome you to the CCE blog as it seems to be me writing this very first blog!

I recently learned that it is rare to have two yolks in an egg (see picture), though we would have seen this some time in our daily lives and just ignored. The probability of happening this is about 1 in 1000. This is even rarer when you break a number of eggs and continuously find these having two yolks. If we believe these statistics, one needs to break about 29000 eggs to find 29 double–yolked eggs, and the chances are extremely slim to find such double–yolked eggs in a row.

Double-yolked eggs (picture taken from Wikimedia)

There is recent news which can be read here or here with a title like ‘British woman cracks open 29 double–yolked eggs in a row’. She bought a tray of 30 eggs from Asda. Out of these 30 eggs, she found 29 of them (except the last one) having double–yolked, making a new world record after beating the previous best of six double–yolked eggs in a row.

This merely seems to be a co–incidence beating the previous statistics, but also leave questions to think about such instances. These eggs would have been picked randomly among several others while packaging and these all happens to be the same type – an interesting instance for probability analysis and open discussions/comments!

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