Friday, 28 October 2016

Beginning of secondment at COTCA

Hi guys, how's everything?

I hope your work is going well. As for me, a lot of work is being conducted with its inherent challenges but in the end I think everything will come out just fine.

As planned in the beginning of my project, the time to start my secondment at COTCA S.A. has arrived, so basically in this post I will talk with you about this important stage of my project within TRUSS.

This secondment is part of the training that, as an ESR in TRUSS project, we receive during our research that is a period between 3 and 6 months. ESR's that are hosted at universities are seconded to industry and vice versa. There's several benefits that we receive from this experience, such as a better perspective from industry of the topics of our researches and in this way provide us with knowledge that will aid us in our researches in order to provide work and information that will better tackle the real necessities of our current society. Moreover, it's a great way to provide personal experience in an industry wise environment, that for instance, in my personal case, I've never had experienced before, improving our curriculum and widening our future professional opportunities after the conclusion of our work within this ITN.

So, in this way, last September 12th I officially initiated my secondment at the company COTCA S.A. that is also located in the city of Barcelona, Spain. This secondment is done under the supervision of Dr. Sergi Villalba that is an employee of this company and is the overall co-supervisor of my project. 

COTCA S.A. logo
This is a company that was founded in 1979 and that is dedicated to the quality control of construction in civil and building structures. In this way, they have a large expertise in the instrumentation of structures for monitoring purposes with different types of sensors including, and this is very important, the use of distributed optical fiber sensors, more specifically the OBR based sensor that I've mentioned in previous posts. It's a relatively small company, with only 16 staff members but that has significant practical experience on structural monitoring, instrumentation, control and maintenance of structures.

Actually, I had the opportunity of working with Sergi before, as part of some short stays of my secondment back in January and February, when a two-span bridge was being monitored with OBR sensors and where I was able to acquire a lot of practical experience by witnessing in first hand the main adversities and difficulties that arise from the real world application of this technology.

In opposition to what happened with a lot of my fellow ESR's, the location of my secondment is not far away from where I am currently living. Actually it's closer to my home than the university, so in this way, my normal daily routine was not at all affected by this. This also allows me to easily and often visit UPC either to have a meeting with my supervisor, Prof. Joan Ramon Casas, or the laboratories of the Structures' department.

Now, as part of my long stay secondment, among several tasks, I'm analyzing the data collected in the aforementioned real world application as well as other experiments already conducted by me in the UPC laboratory. I'm also trying to thoroughly prepare further laboratory experiments which always provides different challenges such as the coordination with laboratory technicians and availability of loading test machines. Furthermore, it's required to buy and assemble several components in order to successfully prepare these experiments, such as new and different adhesives, concrete ingredients and last but not least, more optical fiber! For this I have to personally contact different commercial entities and carefully evaluate each option. Naturally, this process demands a considerable effort in order to overcome the usual inertia associated with these actions, but in the end, I think it provides me a valuable and unique kind of experience that otherwise I wouldn't be able to acquire.

So, this is basically it for now. Hopefully, next month I will be able to get back to you guys with more and exciting news.

Stay tuned and see you soon!

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