PhD awarded to ‘new-media PhD candidate’

19 June 2013 by Webredactie CITG

On Friday 14 June PhD candidate Eva Lantsoght was awarded her PhD for research into the capacity of slab bridges. In the past few years she also acquired a name as a pioneer in the use of new media in the course of her PhD research. Her progress could be followed via her blog and Twitter account.

Capacity of slab bridges

For her PhD, Eva investigated methods for establishing the capacity of slab bridges for Rijkswaterstaat, part of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. In the Netherlands, the load-bearing capacity of existing concrete slab bridges has been under discussion for two reasons: since the 1970s there has been an increase in the traffic loads on bridges, while the majority of bridges were built before 1976. Eva studied the load-bearing capacity of slabs under concentrated loads, such as that exerted by lorry wheels, near to supports.

Eva developed two methods for establishing the shear capacity of slabs under concentrated loads near supports: 1) the Modified Bond Model (a new theory) and 2) an expansion of the standard based on probabilistic calculations, in accordance with the Eurocodes safety philosophy. Based on the test results, she made recommendations on how to include the extra dimension in slabs in a practical manner, given that the load is spread over the width as well.
And, finally, she related her findings to current assessment practice by formulating a number of recommendations, improving Rijkswaterstaat's Quick Scan tool and applying this method to existing slab bridges.

Twitter and blog

During her time as a PhD candidate Eva used Twitter and her blog to keep in contact with other PhD students about carrying our research and writing. Twitter led her not only to interesting blogs by other people, but also occasionally to help and advice. ‘When I tweeted that I had to make a poster for a conference, within an hour I received loads of examples of how to go about it!’ In the blog entries she posted three times a week she wrote about her own research and gave tips to other PhD candidates. Her blog received almost 15,000 pageviews a month.
Eva believes that social media can play a major role in bringing scientists together: “Hashtags are already provided at some conferences, so that participants can exchange ideas on the sidelines.” But in her view it will only really come to life as more from the field get involved:  “I think eventually it will produce more short-term collaborations with people rather than institutes; short-term, but also easier. What I'd like to say to everyone is to start by giving it a go and reading things here and there. Only then will you know what use it could have for you.”

Social Media in Engineering

Unfortunately Eva Lansoght will be leaving us this summer; after the summer she will be taking up a position as Lecturer in Refinforced Concrete 1 & 2 and Lab Concrete at the university of Quito in Ecuador. She will also be expanding her research and, in the future, helping to set up a Master's programme in Structural Engineering. She will remain active on social media. There has already been mention in Quito of a new subject for her to teach: Social Media in Engineering.

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