25 - The TRA 2018 and the 3MT challenge

Hi crew,

It has not been a long time since I published my latest post on the blog but many things happened in the meantime. I have fantastic, wonderful news, that today I would like to share with you.

If you follow me through social media (check links on the left hand side of the blog) you are probably already aware of the fantastic achievement obtained at the past TRA 2018 in Vienna in April. Aren’t you?
Well, let me explain. Every two years the Transport Research Arena (TRA) conference takes place. It is one of the largest events in transportation in Europe (a sort of European TRB). The conference recalls researchers and experts from all around the world and, this year, it was attended by over 3,500 delegates. It is a really big and important event.
Peculiarity of the TRA is that every two years (when it happens) the best researchers at Senior and Young level are selected (in Europe) based on results of their research. This is called ‘TRA VISIONS’ and is sponsored by companies in the sector of transportation and by the EU.
Useless to say that competition for winning such an award is very high and that being ranked within the top 10 represents a very important achievement that basically labels your research at the forefront of the research in transportation in Europe.
Specifically, this year I decided to participate in the Young Researchers competition. I had to submit first an abstract and then a report, a poster, a presentation and a one-minute video explaining my research project, its methodology and show some results. All documents were to be submitted anonymised.
I decided to participate in the competition as I strongly believe in the high potential of my project and I am firmly convinced that the new fuel consumption model that we are developing can help not only engineers in road asset management but also our society in reducing costs and emissions of pollutants from the road transport industry.
Well, I cannot hide you that I was super happy when I was informed of the fact that I have been awarded for the 3rd best idea in the competition for the road transport mode. It is surely the most important prize that I received in my life and I received it from the EU Commissioner for Mobility and Transport Violeta Bulc in person. It is for me a honour and certainly something to show off on my CV when (soon) I will have to make decisions upon my future career.

(Yes please, feel free to celebrate with me guys! Cheers! 🎉🎉🎉)

Here there are a few pictures for you from the award ceremony:

Fig. 1 - Here I was receiving the award from the sponsors and the EU Commissioner for Mobility and Transport Violeta Bulc in person.

Fig. 2 - Here it is a group picture with all the winners of the TRA VISIONS Young Researchers Competition 2018.

Fig. 3 - Here myself with the award.

You can find more pictures here on the website of the conference.

And here the video made by the organisers of the TRA for celebrating the winners of the TRAVISIONS competition 2018:

There is also a brief summary of my project. Check it out ;)

It was an incredible day that I will never forget and surely a remarkable achievement for the project.
So guys, I really suggest you have a try! If you are planning to start or have just started your PhD or your career in research, I warmly suggest you to keep an eye on the next edition of the TRA and TRA VISIONS competition (that will be taking place in Helsinki (Finland) in 2020). Surely it will be fun and will be for you a very good training in summarising findings of your project while boosting your presentation and communication skills (which are very important nowadays in academia and in industry).

Communication is very important nowadays. It offers us opportunities to express our own ideas, share experience, gain knowledge, etc. Being an effective communicator requires talent and lots of training, using the right words at the right moment or being able to summarise the work of multiple years in a 3 minute presentation is a challenge but improves with experience and represents a very valuable skill for any business. This is why, a few weeks ago I decided to take part in the 3MT (3 Minute Thesis) competition here at the University of Nottingham.
After passing the internal (departmental) competition, I was selected for representing NTEC (Nottingham Transportation Engineering Centre) at the Engineering Showcase 2018.
Wow guys, I must admit that I felt a bit of responsibility for that but I can tell you that it went very well! No, crew, unfortunately I didn’t win. However, the jury decided to mention my name together with the winner and my presentation has been defined as ‘highly commended’. So, it was actually to improve but certainly very good!

Pictures? Unfortunately, I was so stressed that day that in the end I didn’t even think about asking to anyone for a picture. I don’t have. Actually, if by chance anyone has I would really appreciate if you could e-mail me the pictures to my e-mail: perrottafederico2@gmail.com. I promise that I will publish some if I receive any. However, here it is a copy of the slide that I used for my presentation:

Fig. 4 - Slide that I used for the 3MT challenge at the Engineering Showcase 2018 at the University of Nottingham.

And here it is the certificate that I received from the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Nottingham for taking part in the 3MT challenge competition:

Fig. 5 - Copy of the certificate received by the UoN Faculty of Engineering for presenting at the 3MT challange.

Cool, isn’t it? 😎

Last year I attended the event as a 2nd year PhD student presenting a poster  in which I was summarising initial results of my research. In fact, this event takes place every year, organised by the Faculty of Engineering here at the University of Nottingham, and is one of the ways that the University uses to enhance students’ presentation and communication skills while summarising results of the research to the stakeholders (e.g. sponsors, industrial partners, etc.). This is not a huge event but (still) approximately 200 people attended it this year and it is expected in future to grow even more.
The 3MT challenge can be attended only by 3rd year PhD student and consists in presenting motivation, methodology and results of their project in 3 minutes. As I said, summarising a project that lasts 3-4 years in total is not an easy task. However, the challenge is fun and offers you the chance to train in becoming an effective communicator.
Every single word must be relevant and chosen for what means and to enhance the meaning of each sentence. It is important that the speech is clear and helps the public to understand why your research is so important to them, why they should vote for you and your research to win the competition, how do you do that and what makes your research so special in comparison to any other. For this reason, each sentence must be weighted and specifically designed to attract the interest of the public that you are speaking to. For example, I would suggest to prepare two different presentations or at least two different speeches for different audiences. For instance, a group of children from primary school and a project manager from a big company do not want to hear the same thing from you but they may be interested in your product (your research, your results, your methodology) in different ways, for different reasons, different perspectives. So, well, if you want to sell your product you better find out that. Sell with your words a belief, feelings, sell the reason why your product is just unique and differ from any other.
Well, at least this is my opinion… 😉

However, let’s come back to the point and then I will conclude with giving you a few updates on my PhD studies and the project itself.
To conclude, I consider both the 3rd place at the TRA VISIONS competition and the positive comments of the jury at the Engineering Showcase two very important results for the project and myself. That would not have happened without the help and technical support of my supervisors or without TRUSS ITN and MSCA EU funding that offer me the possibility to attend trainings and conferences for enhancing my soft and technical skills. And of course, I couldn’t make it without my family, my girlfriend and all friends that I met along the way and that never stopped encouraging me. To you all I would like to say thank you.
(That is making me emotional, Haha 😉)

However, I am half way through my final year of PhD studies and still lot of work remains to be done but I can say that thanks to all the good news recently received I am keeping myself motivated and that I feel proud of the work done so far.

In regards to recent updates upon the project. From the dissemination point of view, I can inform you that two new conference papers have been recently accepted for publication at the IALCCE2018 conference (that will be in October 2018 in Ghent) and that one more paper has been written and submitted to attend the CERI 2018 conference in Dublin (next August 2018).

One paper has been submitted (a few weeks ago) for publication to a top journal in the field of transportation and soon a second one will be submitted. Those summarise results of the first phase of the research and part of results of my secondment in TRL respectively.

Also, and this is another big news: I started writing up my PhD thesis! Just Introduction and Literature Review for the time being, but still it is a start!

Finally, in the last few weeks, I am in contact with Microlise for extracting some more data from their huge databases. That will allow us to validate results of the first phase of the study, optimise the methodology and improve the applicability of the research.

(I really cannot wait to receive new data to investigate, analyse and new things to learn! 😋)

Keep up the good work!
I am going to keep you up to date. Stay tuned!




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