If flaws in infrastructure - a ship or a bridge for example - are spotted early, the damage can be repaired before anyone gets hurt, and before the costs mount. It's a nice theory, but there are currently many uncertainties in ensuring structural safety, as well as a lack of specialists. An EU-funded project is addressing both problems.
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The TRUSS training network is offering intersectoral and multidisciplinary training in structural safety to 14 early stage researchers with interests that include roads, bridges, ships, ship unloading and sensors. Alongside taught modules and secondments in academia and industry, the researchers will also conduct their own research projects.
The training will address the uncertainties inherent in structural safety, such as material strength, response to loads, damage indicators and mathematical models. The young researchers will learn about complex modelling and analysis, as well as how to measure strength and behaviour.
The research conducted within TRUSS will:
- increase understanding of efficient infrastructure design, assessment monitoring and management;
- provide the knowledge needed to maintain current infrastructure and keep it operational;
- help reduce infrastructure costs and demand for the non-renewable and carbon-intensive resources that are used to maintain or improve safety levels.
The results of TRUSS new understanding of how to keep vital infrastructures safe have an impact on everyone, and the project is therefore an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of research into infrastructure. Each young researcher involved in the programme is therefore carrying out at least one outreach activity each year. Recent examples include school visits to encourage girls to consider a career in engineering, and participation in Ireland’s Science Week.