Attending conferences, training and IET events, Maria is keeping busy, but still finds the time to make the most of annual leave, going snowboarding in Scotland and visiting friends and family in Malta and the Netherlands.
I never thought I'd visit Stratford-upon-Avon for an engineering event, but that's what I did early in May. I attended two days of the annual review event of The Research Centre in Non-Destructive Evaluation (RCNDE) that was held there. This is the organisation that co-ordinates the engineering doctorate programme that I am on.
On the first day all the EngD students who are in their second or fourth years gave presentations about their research progress. They are all sponsored by a company and their research is applicable, whilst still being very scientific and rigorous.
Later on that day, academics from the various universities that make up the RCNDE gave presentations about targeted research projects that they are involved in, whilst on the second day academics gave presentations about the core research projects, which are longer-term projects. The two days were a great learning experience and it was very good to meet up with other NDE engineers.
I handed in my first six-month report at the start of April. In this I wrote about my progress as an EngD student since I started last October. I have reached the objectives of this period, which were to become familiar with the theory that is critical to my project, and to become familiar with typical laboratory and testing equipment by performing preliminary familiarisation experiments in industry and at university.
I have also learnt how to program in MATLAB and have written code for data acquisition, simulation and post-processing. But just like with human languages, I will never know enough!
I attended a MATLAB Academic Tour at the University of Bath in April. This was a free one-day event for MATLAB users during which a number of gurus gave excellent talks about the software and how to use it most efficiently and effectively. We were very lucky to have Loren Shure present. She is the lead developer of the MATLAB language and the author of the popular blog The Art of MATLAB.
In March I attended an event organised by the IET about Brunel's SS Great Britain. It involved an overview of the construction of the ship and her working life, as well as a detailed account of her fascinating recovery, which involved her being towed from The Falklands to Bristol, while she was in a 'shipwrecked' state. The SS Great Britain has now been fully restored and is a wonderful attraction. I spent a day there a few weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.
The University of Bristol, where I am based, organises a lot of workshops for research postgraduate students. In April I also attended one about the rules regarding keeping a lab book and in May I attended one about managing my doctorate.
My EngD programme involves a number of taught courses. When I last wrote for this diary I was on my way to Yorkshire for two weeks of practical training in NDE. This went very well and was a good break from our desks and computers! In March I attended a week of lectures on Electromagnetic NDE techniques at Imperial College - a great work out for my brain!
I've also been making the most of my 'annual leave'. At the end of February I went snowboarding in Scotland - I now have another reason to love the Scottish Highlands! I flew to Malta for the Easter and Royal Wedding holiday to visit my family and friends there and enjoyed lots of swimming in Malta, Gozo and Comino.
At the end of May I visited friends from my undergraduate course who are now studying at Delft University of Technology, and began travelling around the Netherlands and Belgium.
In the summer, my housemates and I are moving to a flat higher up in the building we are living in. I am really looking forward to this, especially after our mains water pipe burst a couple of months ago at 5am while I was asleep in my Level -1 bedroom!