Travelling to sunny Greece for the 1st ICONIC Summer School and 2nd ICONIC Project Meeting

Travelling to sunny Greece for the 1st ICONIC Summer School and 2nd ICONIC Project Meeting

21st September 2017

By Sascha Serno

In early September 2017, twelve of our 18 ICONIC ESRs and affiliated PhD students, ICONIC Coordinator Professor Brian G. Falzon, ICONIC supervisors Dr. Peter Martin and Dr. Giuseppe Catalanotti, and myself (in the role of the ICONIC Project Manager) travelled to Patras (Greece) to participate in the 1st ICONIC Summer School and 2nd ICONIC Project Meeting at the University of Patras, one of the nine ICONIC beneficiaries. In Patras, we met the host team led by the University of Patras Scientist-in-charge in ICONIC, Professor George Lampeas, and including the two ICONIC ESRs hosted in Patras, Bharath Ravindran and Chaman Srivastava. For most of our Early-Stage Researchers, it was the first chance to meet almost their counterparts hosted at the different beneficiaries across six EU member states. We could not have picked a better time of the year to visit Patras, with sunny weather and nice summer temperatures.

The 1st ICONIC Summer School kicked off on 4th September 2017 with the first icebreaking challenge for our ESRs, naming a personal interest that the others would not expect. During the first day, Brian Falzon and Peter Martin also provided an overview of the different methodologies for material characterisation of composites, and Giuseppe Catalanotti and George Lampeas introduced the two laboratory exercises that the students worked on over the next one and a half days at the Laboratory of Technology & Strengths of Materials, high strain rate characterisation of composites using Split Hopkinson Bar method, and Double Cantilever Beam static and high strain rate testing.

In the afternoon of the second day of the Summer School, we visited the Ancient site of Olympia, around 1.5 hours bus ride from Patras. We had a very informative guided tour in the Museum and the Ancient site of Olympia, including the original Olympic Stadium and the location where the Olympic flame is lit for every Olympic Games since 1936. We finished the day with a dinner in Olympia, before heading back to Patras.

On the last day of the 1st ICONIC Summer School, we welcomed three invited speakers from the aeronautical, automotive and rail industries, Dr. Naresh Sharma from NASHERO s.r.l., based in Northern Italy, Domenico Fondacaro from ICONIC beneficiary Centro Ricerche Fiat S.C.p.A., and Dr.-Ing. Jan Prockat from Bombardier Transportation in Berlin (Germany). The speakers gave seminars on their perspectives on the crashworthiness and use of composites in their respective industries. The ICONIC Summer School ended with transferable skills training for our students, including two seminars by Professor Emmanuel D. Adamides from the University of Patras on the ethics and implications of the dual use of research results, and risk awareness and mitigation. Brian Falzon gave a seminar on presentation skills.

On the following day, our students kicked-off the 2nd ICONIC Project Meeting with 10 minute presentations each, on their work progress, research plan and training schedules. It was great to see all the progress made by our ESRs and affiliated PhD students in their first months of their recruitment. The technical content of the presentations, and the presentation style itself, were discussed with the supervisors in the audience. On the second day of the Project Meeting, I provided updates on management and dissemination activities to the cohort, and we conducted our regular ICONIC board and group meetings. This included the first meeting of the ESR Council, during which our ESRs and affiliated PhD students elected their ESR Council Chair, Jazib Hassan from the University of Limerick, who will lead the group and their activities throughout the next twelve months.

We would like to thank Professor George Lampeas, Mrs. Paraskevi Tzouma, Dr. Ioannis Diamantakos, Konstantinos Fotopoulous, and ICONIC ESRs Bharath Ravindran and Chaman Srivastava from the University of Patras for their excellent job in hosting and helping the ICONIC Management Group in organising the 1st ICONIC Summer School and 2nd ICONIC Project Meeting at their premises. During the week in Patras, our group of students, supervisors and administrative staff grew together as a team while enjoying sunny Patras and its lovely restaurants along the coastline, the daily view on the impressive Rio-Antirrio bridge, and the Greek food overload! We also were lucky in escaping a week in Patras without an earthquake, which apparently is not the norm in one of the most active seismic regions in Europe. We are already looking forward to our next Project Meeting in Berlin (Germany) on 3-4th May 2018, and the 2nd ICONIC Summer School at Queen’s University Belfast (UK) on 27-29th August 2018. It will be hard to top the events conducted in Patras, but our Management Group will do their best.

Read more about the 1st ICONIC Summer School here and about the 2nd ICONIC Project Meeting here.

Learn more about our host University of Patras and the Laboratory of Technology & Strengths of Materials.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 721256.