Ever since I can remember I have been fascinated with construction – whether it was buildings, bridges, towers, or tunnels, the whole process really captured my imagination. How could these massive structures withstand years of use simply through the way they were put together? That is why I chose to study Civil Engineering, a discipline which involves analysing, designing and managing the creation of structures.
During my undergraduate degree, I was most attracted to mathematics and physics. So when I finished my degree, and decided to carry on with postgraduate research, the field of computational mechanics seemed to be the natural progression for me.
It’s a remarkably technical field, and is developing rapidly. At the moment I am dealing with analysing fractures in structures using three-dimensional modelling to investigate different causes and effects. Because using the existing computer-based systems in the real world can be very expensive, I am also focusing part of my research on finding ways to improve the structural analysis process and make it more efficient. I hope my research will deliver some real cost-saving benefits for the construction industry in the future, and help engineers to identify and remedy structural problems sooner, or predict and avoid them altogether.
Undertaking my PhD at UNSW through CIES has been challenging and rewarding at the same time. Going straight from undergraduate study to postgraduate research meant there were suddenly higher expectations on me than before. Things like processing information from different sources (like journals and technical papers) rather than being handed it on a plate in lecture notes. This has helped me to hone my critical thinking skills. I have also realised there is more than one way to look at a problem and addressing the problem is often best done from different perspectives for the best solution.
My research supervisors are always helpful and encouraging, providing me with regular constructive feedback to ensure my study and research progress smoothly. On a personal level there are rewards too; the School’s research students association (CERSA) organises fun events throughout the year to encourage all the research students to get together – like the games night where we all challenged each other at board games.
Because of the reputation and size of UNSW, there are students from all over the world and from different backgrounds studying various fields – that, for me, has been the best part. It’s a ready-made network of inspired thinkers, and out of it I have made friendships that I hope will continue for a long time into the future.
Albert has graduated. He is now working with CIES as a Research Associate.