Maria's diary entry - Summer 2012

Maria’s continuing her NDT research, presenting her work at her first international conference. She’s also gaining more publishing experience as well as networking with other women in the technology sector.

Maria in Durban I am writing up this diary entry the day before flying to South Africa for the World Conference on non destructive testing (NDT). I am an EngD student in NDT and am very grateful for the opportunity to attend the World Conference during my second year.

This conference takes place every four years and it is the first time it has been held in Africa. It is also a special experience for me because it is the first conference that I am attending overseas and the first conference ever that I am presenting at. Last year I presented at a postgraduate forum in Beijing, which was an excellent “warm up”. 

My research work progresses

In my last diary entry I mentioned computer modelling and manufacturing calibration blocks. I have progressed in both these areas of my project since then. The computer modelling work, which I do in Matlab, is what I am presenting in South Africa. To be exact, I have modelled the interaction of ultrasound with complex defects using finite element analysis and Kirchoff approximation and compared the results.

I have designed, ordered and received a glass block with sub surface laser engraved “defects” and a block of sintered titanium with “defects”. The latter block was manufactured using direct laser deposition, which is a common rapid prototyping technique. I presented these techniques and their use in NDT at the NDT Aerospace Symposium, which was held in Bristol in April.

Anything but monotonous

The third part of my work is involved with carrying out inspections on samples of industry components. I do this to understand the capabilities and limitations of existing equipment and techniques. 

I enjoy the mix of work and the different people I work with, from programming experts at university to the rapid prototyping team at my sponsor company. It makes my day-to-day life anything but monotonous. 

Networking growth

Since my last diary entry, I have attended a couple more Bristol Girl Geek Dinners and also my first Women in Technology event and my first Vitae event, both in London. Women in Technology is a great aid for women working, or wanting to start working in technology. Vitae is a UK organisation whose aim is to assist researchers at all stages of their career to develop on personal and professional levels. Such events are always really useful and enjoyable, but it does take courage to go to them, especially alone!

I attended Insight into Media at the Careers Service in Bristol, which was a really useful three day event with many speakers from various media companies.

Getting published

This calendar year, I have also started writing for Experimentation - a website which science and engineering students contribute to and also for the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining magazine, Materials World. This IET diary has been a great springboard into writing and with at least two years left as a student, I have lots more to say.