28 - Updates on progress of my project

Hi crew,

I hope that you are all doing well, that (as I did) you had the chance to spend some time on holidays and that, if you have been away, you enjoyed your time far from your work place, computer, e-mails, etc.

Tomorrow (28th August 2018) TRUSS ITN is holding at UCD (in Dublin) the last management meeting of the project in which all ESRs will be asked to present their latest achievements, results of their research, etc. For this reason, I thought that today it was good to share with you some updates on my project. Specifically, in this blog post, I am going to talk about the current situation of my studies, recent outreach activities that I have been involved in and I will conclude by giving you a summary and some updates in regards to the outcomes of my research.

So, first things first. In regards to my studies, on 1st October 2018 I am going to start my 4th (yes, FOURTH and LAST) year of studies here at the University of Nottingham. I will start my "Thesis Pending Period" meaning that "without performing any further experiments" I need to start writing up my thesis and, at a later date, defend that in front of a technical committee (once I am ready to do that) within a year time. To graduate, deadline is end of September 2019.
Although I am still adjusting some parts of the methodology, collecting data and finalising the analysis, I have some results to show and actually I already started writing up my thesis.
What point am I in writing up? Well, I have already written three chapters of my thesis and I am finalising the one in regards to the methodology used in the study. Meanwhile, I am finishing to perform my data analysis, revising a few papers to submit to journals and get ready to write my last two chapters of the thesis: results and conclusions. But.. you know.. I cannot write those before concluding my analysis..

Fig. 1 - Me at work.

In regards to outreach activities, you know that I am actively involved in promoting post-graduate studies, research, engineering, transportation and everything related to road infrastructures.
For example, recently, I participated in the Open Day at the University of Nottingham to promote the university, the Faculty of Engineering and specifically the use of materials in civil engineering applications to high school students. An experience that, if you remember, it is similar to what I have done in the past already and that gave me the opportunity to test my presentation and communication skills in a different way from what a conference or a workshop do. The event was held in two days on the 29th and 30th June 2018 run by the University of Nottingham's Faculty of Engineering which gives to high school students and their families to make themselves an idea of what universities have to offer to them in terms of courses, services and life in the city. It is a very important event for universities in the UK.
Additionally, I would like to remember my participation in the 3MT presentation challenge this year in representation of NTEC (my department at UoN) and the invitation received by the PM of SMARTI ETN to give presentation about the use of blogs and social media to promote research to their ESRs. Great chances to improve my communication skills and test them in front of different types of audience.

Fig. 2 - Me attending and presenting at the Open Day at the University of Nottingham.

Finally, let's talk a bit about my proper research project. So, as you know, I am working on assessing the impact of road surface characteristics on vehicle fuel consumption using Big Data. I use large datasets coming from different sources, data mining and advanced regression techniques to point out complex correlations across the data and develop a new methodology to estimate truck fleet fuel consumption and the impact on this from road surface characteristics such as roughness and macrotexture. Thanks to the help from my Supervisors and companies involved in the project, we managed to obtain some interesting results which we presented in several conferences in Europe and in the United States.

Please, read and share them with your colleagues (if you wish) and, please, do not hesitate to drop me an e-mail (perrottafederico2@gmail.com) if you want to share your feedback with me.

Again, in regards to outcomes of the project, you may remember that recently my project has been awarded at the TRA 2018 as 3rd most innovative idea for road transport mode in the TRAVISIONS Young Researchers Competition 2018. That was a significant achievement for the project which showed the quality of the research carried out within TRUSS ITN.
However, for us, that was not seen as an arrival. Instead it worked as new energy and motivation to keep up the good work to push the boundaries of knowledge even further.
For this reason, to conclude my studies, together with my Supervisors and companies involved in the project, we decided to consider even bigger datasets corresponding to months of data collection from all across England (some of which we literally just received). That is to consider different vehicle types, a wider range of vehicle speeds and weather conditions. That is to test and improve the methodology set in the initial phase of the study aiming at obtaining results representative of UK conditions which will improve applicability of the findings.
Unfortunately, no journal paper is published yet as, as you know, the revision process can be sometimes complex and take quite long, but I promise that I will keep you updated when any document will be available to the public and I will share links with you.

Finally, as already mentioned at the beginning of this post, this week I will be in Dublin for the last management meeting of TRUSS. Contextually, this week we will hold also the 2nd TRUSS ITN workshop at the Civil Engineering Research in Ireland CERI 2018 conference. It is an event organised by the Civil Engineering Research Association of Ireland (CERAI) and sponsored by TRUSS in which our project will have a dedicated session and I will present the latest findings of my studies to the CERAI. In this regard, you can find draft of the paper published in the CERI 2018 conference at the following link:

Perrotta, Federico and Parry, Tony and Neves, Luís C. and Mesgarpour, Mohammad and Benbow, Emma and Viner, Helen (2018) A big data approach for investigating the performance of road infrastructure. In: Civil Engineering Research in Ireland, CERI 2018, 29-30 August 2018, Dublin, Ireland. (In Press)

So, yes crew, as you can imagine, it will be a very log and busy end of the month and perhaps same will be for the following months. So, please, wish me good luck as the plan is to submit my thesis this winter! 😀

That is why now I am going back to my data, my analysis and thesis. I wish you a very good day and, as usual, keep staying tuned as I hope to be able to give you further updates in regards to the project by the end of September.



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