Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Summer Placement: Geotechnical Engineering in The Department of Civil and Structural Engineering, University of Sheffield

SebastiĆ  Despuig Reid, SELA Cohort 2015

In 2008 the Government signed the Climate Change Act which has the duty to cut 80% of greenhouse emissions by 2050. Therefore, the government needs to shift to alternative and cleaner sources to produce electric energy like wind. Three quarters of the planet is covered in water; therefore, it is no surprise that we look further away from our coast shore to take advantage of powerful nature sources. Nevertheless, there are some limitations due to costs and current installation methods which are mostly related to the foundations of the wind turbine, therefore there is need to find solutions to manufacture and install larger and cheaper wind turbines to meet the Climate Change Act target.

Throughout the summer I undertook a research placement in the Civil and Structural Engineering department within the Geotechnical Engineering branch. My project was based on the study of offshore wind turbine rough foundations. I was able to propose my title, always taking into account the interests and suggestions of my supervisor. The project lasted 10 weeks overall and it was supervised by Paul Shepley, a lecturer in Geotechnical Engineering at the University.

The main objective was to analyse the behaviour of different rough foundations compared to the same smooth foundations that are currently in use. The tests were performed on scaled samples at the geotechnical engineering lab by applying a horizontal load at the head of the pile. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to test all foundations and throughout the project I decided to narrow down my topic to tackle any gaps in the design codes based on the roughness of foundations. As I started accumulating a larger work load I decided to push my research project into my final year dissertation, where I will be able to tackle issue in greater depth.

This summer research placement gave me the opportunity to experience all the sides of being involved in research, which helped me decide if I want to continue my studies with a PhD after I graduate. Firstly, I had to develop a research proposal and a time plan to work out what I was going to do each week. I conducted a thorough search on what other researchers had found out about topic and wrote a literature review. I also had to find out what instrumentation I needed to perform the tests and learn how to use it. Finally, I wrote about the findings on the tests performed and how these fit with what is already in place.

This project was an incredible opportunity to learn about the subject, experience from first-hand the life of a researcher and work together with other academics which have a broad understanding of Geotechnical Engineering.

No comments:

Post a Comment