Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Willow School Marshmallow Challenge 2017 with interviews to students

Hi all!

On Monday 13th of November, TRUSS visited Willow School once again for the Marshmallow challenge with JJ, Shahnur, Siyuan and I, with the help of Aoife, PJ and John. For this challenge, only the following building materials were allowed:
  1. Sticks of spaghetti
  2. Masking tape
  3. String
  4. A marshmallow

The goal for the little builders was to do the tallest structure that can stand the marshmallow on the top. Team members cannot hold onto the structure when the judges are measuring, or they will be disqualified.

Fig 1. Students waiting for instructions.

Some teams tried to reach the tallest height very quickly without using any base. Unfortunately, none of them finally worked. Other teams tried to do a wide base, obtaining at the end the better results. Imaginative solutions were required to deal with unexpected problems arising during the construction.

Fig 2. Nooooooooooo!!!!

Finally, there were two winner teams: numbers 3 and 16 (out of 26 teams), both of them with 65 cm tall structures. Their design was very interesting and they can be compared to some other familiar structures in the real world.

          Image result for eiffel tower
Figure 3. Winner structure of team number 3 compared to Eiffel Tower. Congratulations!

       Image result for building upside down
Figure 4. Winner structure of team number 16 after some damage compared to Astra Haus in Hamburg. Innovative design, good job!

After the competition, I was able to talk with the winner team number 3. They said that it was hard and that with extra time they would have been able to even get a higher building. For them, the main problems were how to stick the spaghetti one to another and how to stand the extra load the marshmallow places on the structure. Despite all these inconveniences, we can see in Figure 3 that the final outcome was impressive!

I also managed to talk with team number 10. Their structure was coming out nicely, but unfortunately, they hit it accidentally and everything fell. They wanted to do a house-shaped structure with trusses on the walls but they didn't manage. Better luck for the next time!

After the competition, we cleaned the room and TRUSS-branded lollipops were given to all participants.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Conference Experience 3: SEMC 2016 Cape Town

SEMC 2016 has been the one in which I had to travel the most by far. The conference dates were between the 5th and the 7th of September last year. The topics were, like in the previous conferences, really varied, going from the Structural Health Monitoring to the Glass Structures and from Teaching skills to Materials. Every small topic related to the Civil Engineering was divided in the six streams, A to F, at the same time with 8 presentations in each of them. The conference took place in the River Club Conference Centre in Cape Town, quite a fancy place in which golf can be practiced.

Fig 1. Cape Town city with the Table Mountain at the end.

The paper I presented was titled “Damage Detection by Drive-by Monitoring Using the Vertical Displacements of a Bridge”. In this paper the contour plot is introduced as a graph that can display the data in a very effective way, allowing to see the different situations for any parameter. In this paper we focused in deflection, but velocities and accelerations can also be displayed in contour plots. Despite being contour plots the main topic, I also introduced the curvature as a damage detection parameter in the presentation. This was the first conference paper and investigation until now that has gone further than what the paper says.

Fig 2. In front of the conference building with two friends from University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

However, not everything was about work, I  was also able to see Cape Town and the Cape Point, place in which the separation between Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean is made. In the city we had nice views from the Signal Hill and we went to the Waterfront, which is called the Little London Eye by the Cape Town people in a kind way. Also was possible to see how the cannon shoot a cannon ball at 12 am due to the city tradition. It was good idea to be far away at that moment!

Fig 3. Myself with Cape Point on the background. It’s me or it looks like a rhino?

In the trip to the Cape Point we were able to see the famous African penguins. I was not expecting such a lot of them! At last, we went to the Cape Point itself and surprisingly it was full of baboons. The tour guide said that it was really rare to see them, but that time we were lucky!

Fig 4. The model penguin of the group

Fig 5. Baboon in the Indian Ocean part of the Cape Point. Not dangerous if you have nothing interesting for them.

Finally, trip back home with more than 24 hours travelling. However, it worth it!. Nice experience and nice city that I would recommend to everybody. Cape Town could be defined as the perfect mixture between see and mountains with a unique landscape.

Fig 6. The plane for going back to Dublin