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Asal Pournaghshband

I've been at Warwick for 18 months undertaking a PhD in Civil Engineering. My research involves investigating the optimal shape of arch structures under specific load conditions and any ratio of span to height. This work is being preceded by a comprehensive study of analysis methods of known shape arches, which includes catenary, parabolic and circular forms. In this regard, approximate methods of analysis, such as the ‘Masonry Design’ and ‘Virtual Work’ are evaluated by comparing their results with those obtained from a finite element analysis using GSA software and an accurate method of analysis that includes full structural action, i.e., strain energy due to bending, shear, thrust, and coupling of bending and thrust.

Before I came to Warwick, I completed my undergraduate studies at Sharif University in Iran, receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Civil engineering and a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from AmirKabir University, Iran. During my masters course I was able to attend some courses at Danish Technical University (DTU). This was great experience of studying abroad. After completing my master’s degree, I worked as a senior structural engineer in a high ranking company in Iran. However, I realised that being a graduate from a recognised university is important in the professional life of an individual. So, I decided to extend my research in a high ranking university. I applied for the University of Warwick as this is a recognised institution in my field of study. I was fortunate to be awarded with bursary to help with funding the course.

'Form Finding' is an essential tool for engineers to design a cost effective and durable structure. The optimal shape of structure is dependent on number of parameters ranging from material, forces to geometry and load condition. Arches as common type of structures have received less attention in Form Finding due to number of technical issues. Arches with an optimal shape are safer, cheaper and easier to maintain.

Being at Warwick has given me the opportunity to develop my research skills and rise my awareness about what is happening with industry. My participation in the environmental research course for postgraduate students in Warwick University is one of best memories so far. It was three full days team working activities which included some lessons such as how to present in front of others. This course was free of charge and it was really useful for me. The university facilities like library and other communities alongside helpful staff have assisted me to in my studies. I have the privilege of working with people who are willing to help whenever needed.

When I finish my PhD I want to use my research findings in the civil engineering industry and explore the opportunities for structural form finding. I think the method practised in my research would assist me a lot in this manner. I'm really hardworking – I am never give up easily and believe “an engineer can always find a way” and impossible is “I’m possible” itself!

When I'm not researching, I attend useful classes and courses if I can in my spare time. I also plan to visit places I haven’t seen before and learn more about the new environment I am living now. I also help within the School of Engineering, undertaking demonstration laboratories, exam invigilating and exam results checking.

To anyone considering studying at Warwick, I would recommend in-depth thinking of future goal and objectives. One should have a clear idea about what his/her aim is to study at Warwick and plan for that accordingly. It might be new environment, culture and way of life, but full of joy at the same time! Warwick is a high-quality university, with multi-cultural environment and lots of learning opportunities.

Title of research project: Form Finding of Arch Structures
Supervisor: Professor Wanda Lewis