Great, tough questions. It is great to see these questions come up.
1) Overall, yes I think the use of fiber composites is going to continue to expand within structural engineering. In "non-traditional" structural engineering fields (i.e. aerospace or the maritime industry) composites are widely used. In "traditional" structural fields (bridges and buildings), the use of composites are growing and I think they will continue to grow.
2) First of all, yes I do think your background will make a good candidate for an industry position. One thing to keep in mind is that you have learned many advanced technical skills during your graduate career, but I believe one of the most important skills that is often overlooked is the ability to think and learn. In a research-based graduate degree, a student learns to think independently and critically, analyze data and information, and draw conclusions based on sound engineering judgment, just to name a few. These skills are critical to a structural engineer and sometimes needs to be learned over many years of practice.
I know many PhD's that work for consulting firms and government agencies (DOT's, Corp of Engineers, etc.). From my experience, it seems like larger organizations are more likely to hire and value the expertise of a PhD. This is not always true and you may need to spend a little more time finding the right firm, but there are certainly many that are willing and eager to hire PhD's.
3) I think there are a few parts to this question. First, I believe that our industry does need to embrace new ideas at a much faster rate. However, I fully understand the hesitation when so much is at stake with every design. I think we (the industry as a whole) needs to do a better job of evaluating and testing new and innovative ideas. Another part of this relates to academics and industry working more closely together. It is not uncommon for academic research to be years or decades ahead of what could be incorporated into practice. There is a real need for advanced research and there is a lot of research being conducted that have immediate practical applications. I think academics, practitioners, and funding agencies can do better working more closely together to advance not only the state of the art, but maybe more importantly the state of practice. As Anne mentioned, there are great organizations out there, like the George Pankow Foundation, that are working hard and funding research with direct practical applications and I hope these types of programs continue to expand.
John Cleary Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE
Sent: 06-10-2020 12:56 PM
From: Rudraprasad Bhattacharyya
Subject: Meet the Leaders: Ask Me Anything
Hi Anne and John,
I am a PhD candidate at Vanderbilt University. My dissertation title is 'Development of constitutive relation for multiscale modelling of CFRP composites under uncertainty'. My research area comes under computational mechanics. The CFRP composites I'm working on are recently being used extensively in aircraft structures. As I am very close to defend my dissertation I am thinking about my future job opportunity. I have work experience in steel design in India, but not in US. I have knowledge of AISC 360, ACI 318, ASCE 7. I've not yet got a PE in US. In my personal experience most of the structural engineering professionals think PhDs as people for academia only. I believe there is still a cultural (?) barrier in the structural engineering profession to accept people with PhD. As a structural engineer I believe, in addition to the traditional structural materials like steel, concrete, masonry or timber, we should now focus on lightweight and high-strength advanced materials like CFRP composites. I have 3 questions to both of you.
1. What do you think about the prospect of fiber composites as a next generation structural material?
2. How can a structural engineer with PhD/ research background in computational mechanics may help the structural engineering profession?
3. Do you think the current cultural barrier in our profession should change by embracing new ideas developed by the researchers in practical application?
Thank you for your time.
Rudraprasad Bhattacharyya CPEng,P.E.,ENV SP,M.ASCE
Sent: 06-08-2020 07:01 PM
From: Brittany Boyce
Subject: Meet the Leaders: Ask Me Anything
Welcome to the June edition of Meet the Leaders: Ask Me Anything! Featuring @Anne Ellis and @John Cleary. (Review their bios).
One of the staple events at SEI's Structures Congress is the Meet the Leaders breakfast where students and young professionals get the chance to sit down with leaders in small groups and pick their brains in an informal mentoring session and gain career insights. With the pandemic and (most) everyone working from home we've moved this online.
In April we had David J. Odeh, P.E., S.E., SEC, F.SEI, F.ASCE, and Cherylyn Henry P.E., F.SEI, M.ASCE, join us for the inaugural thread. In May we had SEI President Glenn Bell P.E., S.E., SECB, C.Eng, F.SEI, F.ASCE, and Rose McClure, P.E., S.E., M.ASCE for a great discussion. Review the previous threads along with the bios of the leaders to help frame your questions and guide the discussion.
This month Anne and John have agreed to answer your questions on this thread. We have asked the leaders to keep their answers concise. This thread will be open for questions until 4:00 p.m EST Friday, June 12. The leaders will reply to all questions by Monday, June 15. Please skim the thread before posting to avoid duplicate questions. Please make sure to direct your question to a specific leader or both if you would like them both to respond. Moderators reserve the right to remove or consolidate duplicate questions.
Just a reminder – questions must comply with the ASCE Collaborate Code of Conduct.
See you in the thread!
Brittany Boyce Aff.M.ASCE
Senior Coordinator, SEI Communications & Operations