Samples of Tasks Assigned
Planning and Writing Successful Research Grant Proposals
This activity was purely focused towards those graduate students who are interested in grant writing for their research projects. In the first part of the interactive gathering session, guest speakers on their turn highlighted the significance of skills for successful research grant proposal. It was based on multiple factors which leads to an effective and successful research grant proposal. My personal interest in attending this event was entirely based on the fact that I want to pursue my graduate studies with the research work. In majority cases, civil and infrastructure engineering projects require some handsome amount of funding as the procedure followed and instruments used in the research work or methodology are considerably expensive. Research writing for the epistemological purposes follows different criteria for attaining the funds. One of the guest speakers clearly mentioned the relevance of identification of research problem you are focusing on. It is of extreme importance to know what our research particularly focus and what are the rhetorical elements of our research writing.
Writing a successful grant proposal is not a unidirectional process which starts from an idea and ends up to the new offerings or importance of the research. But it is a type of a circular process which encircles those elements which are in common between the personal exigency and social exigency. Usually the chances for getting the funding for the proposal lie on the clear discussion of the idea or problem statement we are addressing. What I learned as being a part of this event was that engineering research projects can be put into a successful grant proposal for the good amount of funding if the approach of solving the problem statement is not extraordinarily expensive. Because it indirectly conflicts with the thought of sustainability. Furthermore, writing a research proposal to different organizational bodies was also discussed in the form of the answer to one of the student. It is not a bad option but it can sometimes confuse the mind of picking the exact grant among multiple or discourages in case of rejection from all possible sources. Moreover, two factors which control the success rate of grant against a research proposal are the time at which we are submitting our proposal and the number of specific projects for which the funding has been promised by the department. Sometimes, the line of inquiry or focused analysis related to some concepts is not making the whole story for the description of the problem statement or either the solution for the problem. This really affects the understanding of the project which can badly affect the research proposal. It also highlighted the fact that if we don’t get the grant for the first time then it can assist us to put our research in the specific required way.
My professional plans are considerably inclined towards the research based upon the social exigency which deals with the implications of the forensic studies in the design of water supply systems. This interactive event clarified the path of successfully writing proposals. It actually provided the framework which can be used to explain the ideas by committing not the mistakes which are in common between the unsuccessful research proposals.
Part A: Research Interest
Ans (i): My major field of study is Civil and Infrastructure Engineering.
Civil and Infrastructure Engineering is quite a broad field relating the design of different infrastructure systems and implementing those systems in the concerned field. Sustainability carries a significant role in this field of Engineering. As the projects involved in the civil and Infrastructure Engineering are generally too heavy in terms of cost and secure major importance in the socio-environmental factor, so it is quite imperative to focus sustainability in all projects.
This field of engineering is divided into six interdisciplinary fields:
This field of Civil Engineering deals with design and construction of concrete and steel structures like buildings, bridges, apartments, roads and flyovers e.tc
This discipline of engineering deals with the moisture content and its impact on the substructure of the whole structure. It covers the issues related to variation in the pore pressure, density of sub structure strata and stability of road gradients.
Transportation or Highway Engineering concerns the design of highways and various construction methods involved in it. ASTM (American Standards of Transportation and Materials) is the department of federal level which sets the standards of design and construction practices.
Water Resources Engineering:
This is one of the modern fields of studies of civil and infrastructure engineering. The scope of this particular field of engineering is quite broad. It covers all the issues related to water effect on the society and infrastructure like integrated water resources management, flood studies, irrigation system, groundwater hydrology, fluid dynamics e.tc
Construction Project Management:
Construction Project Management is a highly demanding field of civil and infrastructure engineering because of the issues it is addressing. It deals with the management of the project from zero to its full completion. There are 3 phases of the project:
Start of Project Substantial Completion Full Completion
Engineering applications managed under the concept of economics and sustainability are covered under this discipline. It provides the scope and budget baseline to monitor the performance of the project at different stages of its execution.
This field of Engineering is related to the modeling of networks or systems which are optimal in terms of solving the issues. Mathematical modeling is the sub-branch of this field. Infrastructure modeling has assisted the concept of sustainability to one level higher in combination with the concepts of construction and project management.
Field of Civil and Infrastructure Engineering is of broad nature in terms of issues it address. Because of this reason, it is related to the number of other fields like Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Material Engineering, Climate Studies, Forensic science applications and many others.
Below description is in support of the similar areas between Civil Engineering and Forensic Science.
Application of Forensic Science in Civil Engineering Systems:
Forensic science has a variety of applications in the structural engineering discipline of Civil Engineering by the name of “Forensic Civil Engineering” or “Forensic Structure Engineering”. Forensic science in general deals with the methods and study of the collection of murder causes. On the similar lines, by using the same instruments like infrared rays machine, x rays and electron microscopy we able to see the crack length and its maturity in the structure. It also give the pieces of evidence related to the quality of material used.
Forensic science in combination with the civil engineering also deals with the performance of structure after its construction. Earthquake resistant structures failures are often identified through forensic structural engineering. Different failure analysis techniques use the principle of forensic science to help client and contractor to reach at the point where any of two parties can be subjected to the penalty. And this is only possible if the exact cause of failure is being known by both parties.
Failure mood Analysis or Fault Tree techniques are usually used in the field of forensic civil engineering to solve the issues of liability.
Areas of Conflict (Dissimilarity):
There are some areas of conflict or dissimilarity between forensic science and Civil Engineering. Major causes of the limitations of forensic science in the field of engineering are that it actually originated from its experiment on living organisms and its success in the discipline of structural engineering can be challenged by uncontrollable factors like rain, temperature variation and other atmospheric issues. Because in case of living organism investigations, these factors don’t play a considerable role in changing the results but in the discipline of structural engineering, results get altered by these uncontrollable parameters.
So the dissimilarity between these two fields is the point of study. Forensic science is quite successful in its application on living organisms but still a lot has to be done for its successful applications on civil infrastructure.
Ans (ii): I am interested in my field of studies for a number of reasons. First and the major reason was its huge series of applications in the normal society. When we start of our day to when we finish, applications of civil and infrastructure engineering are too easy to observe. Either it is structural engineering applied in terms of apartments we live or in buildings we work or transportation engineering which helps us to reach our destination. The basic necessity of life “water” is supplied to us through various applications of water resources engineering.
The second cause of my choosing this field of engineering is for the reason it offers a number of disciplines to study in depth. My key interest is in the field of integrated water resources management. A number of problems are emerging in my homeland country because of the poor water supply system which is in fact the result of insufficient number of water reservoirs. This has badly affected the agriculture industry of my country. Area of watershed management needs competent people to bring this particular system of the country back on track. I am a keen observer of the surroundings, environment carries a great value for me. So I was always search for learning the skills and methods to solve the water supply system and flood issues of my country and civil engineering is the best platform for it.
Ans (iii): My priority as a graduate student will be to learn the useful knowledge of my field which I can apply in the industry to give sustainable solutions to the society. For this goal to be accomplished, I have to learn the modern softwares which help in the regulation of irrigation and water supply system. Moreover, I want to learn the modern ways of approaching the problems related to floods and canal designing.
Currently, there is no application of integrated water resources management knowledge in my homeland so I want to apply the knowledge of this field at some considerable level of my country to get desired results so that it can be applied afterwards. For the time being, I am going to learn the GAMS software for the optimal solution of water supply problems and my goal is to learn the rest of the softwares like AQUATERRA and IRRICAD.
Ans (IV): There are some challenges in the field of civil engineering related to its applications effectively. Plenty of theoretical knowledge is available in this branch of engineering but still some structure fails or does not yield the performance which was expected from those structures. There are a number of reasons for such failures in the construction industry like incompetent staff, unfriendly working environment or poor construction practice. These are the problems which are more concerned to the structural engineering.
Field of construction project management covers the literature from initiation of the project to its full completion. Despite the fact, enough resources are available but still number of projects overrun in the meaning of cost or time which can be evaluated as a project failure. So a lot needs to be improved for the effective application of the knowledge to gain the results which are expected from the project as per design.
Ans (v): One of the dominating factors in civil engineering structures or infrastructure is the socio-economic value. Through this factor, civil and infrastructure engineering is serving the society (people from other fields) in multiple ways. Roads, buildings, bridges, flyovers, airports, apartments, dams and other civil structures are beneficial for the society in different ways and carry a great value in the normal life.
From the employment point of view, people from different fields work in the construction companies at the post of human resources manager, quality control manager, contract manager or procurement manager to assist the process of construction project management.
Part B: Initial Topic Research Process
Ans (1): Three selected topics are ranked as below:
- Forensic Engineering
- Failure Mode and Effects Analysis(FMEA)
- Safety Engineering
(a): These above three topics are covering the domains of forensic science and civil engineering structures. Forensic Engineering application in the process of determining the cause of structural failure is the core value of this topics. Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) is a particular technique which follows the techniques of forensic science to know the maturity and cause of concrete or steel rupture in the structure. Safety Engineering as a whole covers all ranges of safe construction practices and to locate the risk factors through forensic science principles. We as a group are pretty satisfied on these three topics as these all satisfy the principles of engineering and forensic science.
(b): Following are the sub-topics which we want to explore and to read in detail for further knowledge:
- Structural Forensic Engineering from Forensic Engineering
- Single Point Failures from FMEA
- Safe Construction Practices from Safety Engineering
(c): Areas of overlap between three of selected topics are:
- Civil Engineering
- Forensic Science
- Instruments for carrying out investigations like use of electron microscope and infrared rays
- Liability issues
- Post Failure responses
Conflicting issues between these three topics are given below:
- Object of Study is different for forensic science and different for safety Engineering.
- Uncontrollable Factors are different in FMEA and forensic science.
- Method of Study varies depending upon cases.
(d): Journals which we are planning to broaden our spectrum related to the detailed research of these three topics are:
- Google Scholar
- ASCE Journal
- Science Direct
(a): Current Trends:
Civil and Infrastructure Engineering not only deals with the construction of structure but also its post-construction performance. Presently, trend is moving towards the sustainable construction practices and it is quite important to make the structure safe for the society. In case of any failure, there should be some standards to measure the level of failure and possible causes of it.
Current trends of civil engineering are following some modern methods like fault tree analysis and FMEA to diagnose the cause of failure. After diagnosing the failure, different treatment methods are being practiced depending upon the sensitivity of the issue like pile driving for the lifting of structure and re installation of reinforcement bars.
(b): Topics of Forensic Engineering with its different methods like FMEA and fault tree analysis are covered by specialists of Civil Engineering discipline. Especially Keneth L carper has written a book on the forensic engineering including different ways of investigating and safety construction practices. He has contributed in these ways:
- Offered three approaches related to the application of forensic science in civil engineering
- Analysis and design methods for safe construction techniques
- Addressed the real-life cases involving knowledge of forensic engineering
(c): Civil Engineering field was lacking the methods to record the performance of structure after its completion. So, whenever the failure arises client and contractor blamed on each other and liability issues started to rise. No party was ready to accept the penalty. But after the application of Forensic Engineering a huge turn around has been observed in the civil industry. Now, quality and performance of structure can be determined at any point after its completion.
FMEA has left the very small margin for anyone to find a loophole in this technique of finding the reasons of failure. It can locate the crack up to a few millimeters length which is an accuracy of higher level. It does not only tell the performance but also gives an idea about the age of crack that for how long the structural member has been rupture. It has also added the way to differentiate between crack due to overloading and crack due to material quality. Safety Engineering on the other hand has made construction methods even more reliable not towards the structure performance but also towards the lives of staff and machinery performance.
(d): Queries which are in my mind and can add a new feature to this branch is:
- All these three topics have not addressed issues related to the causes of failures due to Force Majeure or due to uncontrollable factors.
- A lot can be done to meet the hazards (if occur) due to investigational methods.
- Limitations of FMEA towards risk prediction can be improved by scoring the risk from 1 to 10.