Experiments: Behind the scenes

Hi dear friends, I hope you are having a wonderful time with your family and friends.

To finish 2018, I want to share with you one of the experiences I had during 2018, where I had developed a relationship of hate and love with my Ph.D.

It started when I made the decision to install a monitoring system in a Swiss Bridge, in December 2017.
I prepared at the beginning of the year the statement of work to ask for funding from my school.
I contacted the companies selling the monitoring system in Europe to compare the prices.
I submitted a rapport to my school to ask officially for the funding.
And I waited for an answer.

In June, I got the money, I was very very happy, thinking that it is the end of the story. But, wait it just started.

To use the funding I should find at least 2 offers and take the best one for me and for my school
It was not easy to decide with different opinions and similar functions, but I made my decision and I have chosen one.

In July, we had sent by post the last demand to the company, to get finally the system.
In 2 months, I will have the system and install it by the end of September or the beginning of October.

I didn't know that shit can happen!
And it happens.
After 2 months I didn't get the system. The company didn't know when they will receive it because of a stock shortage. I couldn't believe it. I hate my Ph.D.
It is the beginning of winter, and with cold, snow and humidity it will be impossible to install the system. I was seeing my experiment postponed to the next year.  Nooo waay!!!

I contacted the company, putting all the pressure to find a solution.
I lost hope to install my monitoring system in October, where the weather is still tolerable.
I need data by the end of the year

The company comes up with a temporary solution: lend us their system and install it in the bridge while waiting to receive my system from the US.
I accepted , in all the cases I don't have any choice.

The installation will be on the last week of November, the weather is not good, but at least it is not snowing. I contacted the bridge owner to ask for the permission to install the system and to provide us with an aerial bucket. Everything was good, settled and organized. I was happy again :) , I love my Ph.D.

I didn't know that shit can happen again!
4 days before the installation, I received an email that the company will not be coming because they need an administrative paper to permit them to work in Switzerland, which takes 8 days!
The day after, I understood that the system will be without a protective box.
I was frustrated! What can I do. I hate my Ph.D.

It was hard to deal with the whole team to change the date and manage again the preparations for the installation.
However, when I decide to do something, I go for it to the end.
I fixed the new dates for the installation on the same week,  starting from Wednesday instead of Monday. This delay will oblige us to finish within 3 days, because we cannot work during the weekend. The good news is that we will install my system, because the company receive it during the weekend, Youuupiiii! I love my Ph.D.

The first day of the installation, I encountered a problem about the fixation of the sensors in the bridge, with a cold weather and a slab of 17 cm. I stopped the work for 2 hours to find the best method.
The second day, we discovered that the longest part of the installation is about the fixation of the cables. 28 cable of 60 m! How can we finish this within 1 day?
The third day, we were working without talking because we knew that we must finish the work before night. It is Friday already.

Everyday, I woke up at 5 am, leave my place at 6 am, and come back at 9 pm. The temperature was between 1 and 4 degrees, with wind sometimes. Not the best conditions for working outside, but we manage with the whole team to finish the installation withing 3 days of hard work.

Get ready and stat to install the sensors in the reinforced concrete slab.

A selfie with the last sensor :), we did it.Youupii

Now I can tell that one part of the monitoring campaign is done.
I still need to make sure that all the sensors are working well, to calibrate them and manage the noise of traffic and environmental changes, learn how to analyse the signals and more.
I know that I will always encounter problems, but, I think I will always search and find a solution.
This is the PhD life, hard moments where we hate this life, and beautiful moments where we love it more.

I wish you all a happy new year, full of health, success, and love. Remember when you encounter problems in your life to look for a solution and go on. Their is up and down moments everywhere, but we can make the difference when we reach the equilibrium.
Good luck!

Time for holidays, best wishes from Havana, Cuba 2018-2019


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