Training school 3:
In May 2022, within the training activity program of the SMARTINCS project, the third training school, focusing on the durability and service life of concrete structures in aggressive environments, took place in Madrid. The course was organized by the Institute of Construction Science Eduardo Torroja (https://www.ietcc.csic.es/) of the High Research Council of Spain (https://www.csic.es/es) with the collaboration of two other project partners, RDC (https://rdconcrete.com/es/) and UPV (http://www.upv.es/). The training school was developed successfully with face-to-face attendance of all the ESRs of the project and more than 100 online participants (65% from Europe and 35% from other countries). The training school was structured around four main themes: 1) durability of concrete in aggressive environments, 2) reinforcement corrosion, 3) structural performance and life cycle analysis (LCA) and 4) advanced carbon-based materials for self-monitoring of structural damage. Experts, both from academia and industry, gave the 20 lectures. The conferences were recorded and can be accessed through the Smartincs YouTube Channel.
During the training school, the ESRs received some additional skills training and carried out experiments in the laboratory on aspects involved in the course. It concerns tests on microstructural characterisation and durability of concrete: identification of information from different microstructural techniques, XRD/XRF/SEM-EDX/MIP/DMA; alkali silica test and volume change. Furthermore, ESRs became acquainted with tests on rebar corrosion characterisation: carbonation depth and Cl penetration determination, corrosion monitoring for lab and in-situ, chloride threshold, sensors and concrete electrical resistivity, piezoresistivity testing. Additionally training skills related to exploitation of research results and market commercialisation were given. Finally, a view on the actual Horizon Europe program and skills on how to write a successful proposal were given by national specialist in the topic.
Two technical visits were organised: one to the IETcc building where explanations were given on the type of construction technologies used by Eduardo Torroja and which is considered as a relevant and protected construction. The second visit was to the exposition of “Madrid Norte Nuevo-espacio”. This is the great urban regeneration project of Madrid that will close the gap of the train tracks, giving new life to disused land in the heart of the capital, and turning it into an innovative urban environment focusing on people, which respects the identity of the city.
All the ESRs were also involved in social events, visiting the active city of Madrid with a guide explaining the most relevant historic events, but also getting time to relax and enjoy the typical “chocolate con churros” in a friendly atmosphere.
With fewer restrictions in place, the SMARTINCS Training school 2 was successfully organised in November 2021 as a hybrid event by the University of Cambridge. The training school witnessed, among the others, the active participation of the 15 ESRs who were physically meeting all together for the first time since the start of the project. The training comprised of 15 lectures covering a range of technical topics presented by subject experts from academia and industry. We thank everyone who graced the training school with their presence both online and in-person! For those who wish to view the sessions, all lectures were recorded and can be accessed through the Smartincs YouTube channel.
Both soft-skills and team building activities accompanied a series of technical sessions during the second training school. The participants received trainings related to smart repair techniques using self-healing, characterisation work, scaling-up principles, and challenges. The first day of the training school focused on infrastructure repair while the following day addressed the topic of encapsulation techniques - such as micro and macro encapsulations for self-healing materials - and was complemented by a lab demonstration session given by experts from Micropore. Finally, the research areas surrounding infrastructure materials with self-sensing, self-healing and engineered composites were presented by the research group of Resilient Materials 4 Life 2020 (RM4L).
In parallel, the ESRs had the opportunity to attend a training session on intercultural communication to learn and adapt to different academic scenarios, followed by a presentation on intellectual property, to translate research ideas and concepts to the real world. Moreover, all 15 PhD candidates presented a poster and gave a Pecha Kucha presentation, both related to their research topics, and the best ones were awarded a prize from the University of Cambridge.
All the ESRs were also involved in a series of teambuilding/social events, i.e., from enjoying a sunny Cambridge to visiting London’s most iconic landmarks. The school ended with many shared memories and lots of excitement in view of the next training school in Madrid.
On the 3rd of May 2021 Ghent University organized the first SMARTINCS Open Research Workshop. By connecting more than 130 people online, the workshop can be defined as a true success!
Experts in self-healing concrete gave presentations on the different self-healing agents, how they are tested, what their influence is on the durability, and in which practical applications they can be used. The coordinator from the EPSRC project RM4L and the coordinator from the H2020 project ReSHEALience introduced their respective projects. Also an overview of the activities of the COST Action SARCOS was presented.
Aside from well-established experts, also the SMARTINCS ESRs gave presentations. These presentations outlined the different research goals of the scientific work packages. These high-level presentations, which already contained some initial research results, were an excellent introduction of the SMARTINCS consortium to the international self-healing community and relevant stakeholders.
In case you missed one of the presentation visit our Smartincs YouTube channel where all presentations have been made available.
Smartincs Training School 1 was supposed to be organised in and around Delft in The Netherlands. As many other events and activities the Training school was moved into an online happening and everyone was joining from their own home across Europe through TEAMS.
In the TS 1 we had all 15 ESRs participating and we had 16 Lecturers presenting and discussing all the topics. We had an additional 125 people from Universities and Industry following all or part of the lectures during the week through a live-stream. Thank you all for joining us! All lectures are recorded and can be accessed through the Smartincs YouTube channel. Feel free to consult these online trainings.
The topics of Training School 1 were dealing with the soft-skills Presentation and Scientific writing on the first day and the more hard core science of fracture, testing, upscaling, microscopy and using NDT on the second day. The third day was devoted to self-healing, general methods and testing of healing performance, bacterial healing and modelling schemes for designing and optimising self-healing. Day 4 was the concrete day, in which the participants got trained in tricks for making ‘perfect’ concrete. The last day was reserved for a company visit to Concrefy where we were all treated with a very nice virtual tour inside their lab-facilities and of the type of research they perform.
During the TS, the ESRs had to work in groups on an assignment in which they had to prepare a plan for repairing and preserving the 50 year old Leca swimming pools in Portugal. On Friday the groups had to present their plans to the supervisors in the project. This turned out to be a successful item in the training school. The presentations were of very high quality and the ESRs could practice the freshly learned presentation skills and also apply all the technical knowledge on SH-techniques, testing and modelling that was taught in the TS.
The final hours of the TS were a social gathering in the online virtual Smartincs pub in which we could enjoy a drink and a pub-quiz with questions on the Smartincs-cities, local food, self-healing and the origin, shoe-size and musical talents of the ESR’s.
The TS ended with a TS-Dinner, which also was online of course. Everybody made their own favourite food, shared recipes and photos and had dinner together while chatting through TEAMS.
Some reactions from our ESRs
“Excellent program with a wealth of knowledge about concrete science. The speakers were very professional and knowledgeable” – Harry Hermawan, ESR 4
"Great expansion of knowledge outside of the area of my PhD that can be used in the near future for research and industrial work" - Priya Arul Kumar, ESR 7
"I have particularly appreciated the industrial contributions; i.e. emphasising the practical feasibility and possible challenges of implementing a new technology into the real-life construction field" - Gabriele Milone, ESR 9
"An important positive aspect of the training school was that all lectures were presented in a way that even students with another master than structural or civil engineering, could grasp the main idea" - Sina Sayadi Moghadam, ESR 5
"A well structured and practical course, in which we applied the acquired knowledge for business use: by proposing self-healing solutions to the Leica swimming pool case presented at the end" - Lais Bandeira Barros, ESR 15
"At the end of training school, Erik Schlangen, the organizer of the event, prepared a funny PubQuiz and online dinner. We could cook our dinner in front of the camera. That led to a nice and friendly area and all of us were being more familiarized with each other" - Pardis Pourhaji, ESR 12
"The TS1 was important because it presented a set of practices and theory that will be useful to improve the performance of each ESR, opening our field of vision for alternatives in facing challenges throughout the research, developing skills that meet the expectations of managers and above all preparing us to perform our activities with excellence within our research topic" - Suelen de Rocha Gomes, ESR 6
"The recorded videos are available at the SMARTINC YouTube channel. Great idea that allows the participants to look back and others to learn online" - Kiran Dabral, ESR13