Industrial PhD student, Thomas Rye Simonsen, wins Communication Prize

By Geo Communication

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Industrial PhD student in Geo, Thomas Rye Simonsen, has won a third prize in the Industrial PhD & Postdoc Association’s Communication Prize 2017. The assignment from the Association was to communicate one’s Industrial PhD project to a broader target group, and to do so in a format that can be published at videnskab.dk and sciencenordic.com.

Industrial PhD student in Geo, Thomas Rye Simonsen, works on a research project about plastic clay, which is causing large challenges in the areas, where the subsurface is filled with the clay. In areas such as Aarhus, in the Little Belt and at Fehmarn Belt plastic clay cause challenges in relation to construction.

The Communication Prize consists of a cash prize and the opportunity of having one’s article published on videnskab.dk and sciencenordic.com.


Research project on swelling clay

The purpose of the research project is to investigate how plastic clay actually behave and to better understand the mechanisms, rather than only working with approximate models. The purpose of the project is to perform full scale tests down to 30 metres beneath excavations and via in situ measuring monitoring the subsurface before and after construction, in order to achieve the optimum foundation solution, and to avoid over- and under dimensioning construction in the future.

“The purpose is to investigate the mechanisms causing the clay to swell, which makes buildings rise. When I have enough measuring data, I can develop models, which much more accurately will be able to take into account the rises, than the models available today. Costs might be considerably lowered, if it’s possible to get a more accurate image of how the clay really behaves”, says Thomas Rye Simonsen.


The purpose is to raise awareness of geotechnical engineering

The reason why Thomas Rye Simonsen wrote the article and participated in the competition was to raise awareness in broader circles, and to have the message distributed to new target groups.

“It’s rare to read or hear about geotechnical engineering in popular science. So it’s quite satisfying to be able to convey the problems regarding a soil type and the problems it causes, which are only known to a small group”, he explains.

Thomas hopes that the research project will contribute in raising awareness to the importance of knowing the subsurface. Not only because the lack of knowledge can turn out to be expensive in a construction project, in which both under- and over dimensioning foundation have vast influence on project economy.

“I hope the research project – and the Communication Prize – can contribute to raise awareness to geotechnical engineering. Also in attracting new engineering students to geotechnical engineering, when choosing their speciality. Because geotechnical engineers are few and in high demand!”, Thomas Rye Simonsen concludes.

Industrial PhD student wins Communication Prize