research & the holiday season

Holiday season is great for many things, but I believe research is not one of those things.

Holidays mean more friends available to catch up, better days to stay outside and less people at the office for the same amount of work. These are hardly helpful factors when it comes to arrive home and getting things done with research.

Since I try not to be an easy quitter, I’m trying to balance things but at the end of the day, the effort to sort everything out – the effort to balance – is in itself another disturbing and tiring factor to add up.

But I’ll keep trying.

rotterdam

I took the opportunity of being around for visiting some friends in good ol’ Rotterdam. Which, again, it’s a port city, packed with research subjects.

I wanted to interview two people – one related to the port authority, the other to a short-sea carrier with multimodal interests – but only the latter was available.

I got very good information about the basics of the business. Plus, I got also some cheese, sun & ice-cream.

field trip

On Wednesday, the last day of the conference, we went to the Port of Antwerp on a field tour. We visited PSA’s Noordzee Terminal and the Katoen Natie logistics facilities.

I’ve already be at PSA’s, thus the most impressive for me was Katoen Natie. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed indoors.

the job is done

The audience was big, good and kind. One of the parallel sessions was in French, which meant many people joined the remaining two, mine included.

I managed to do it on time and passing the message I had: my early stages of research, with the problem and the sketch of the research methodology to tackle it.

It was my first presentation of a scientific paper and that already leaves me happy enough. Better still, I manage to interest a few people about my subject and networked with a lot more, who already gave me hints and tips for further development.

Now I’m looking forward to working harder and presenting the follow-up – which will be the buildup, if I think in terms of thesis research.

The job is done. Now it’s time for strolling, enjoying the city and having a De Koninck.

here

Arrived yesterday. All is set: the power-point is finished, mock presentations have been tried (not yet on time, but there are some hours left), the way to the university was found and tested.

Although the conference starts tomorrow, the session I was scheduled to is only on Tuesday, which gives me an extra day for preparation, mingle, and improve my know-how for these occasions.

On the tourism side, it’s great being back to Antwerp, a city I really like. It’s be warm and sunny and I wonder what I will do with all these winter clothes that pack my suitcase.

presentation

I’ve been working on the presentation for the WCTRS-SIG2 conference “Key Developments in the Port and Maritime Sector” and I’ve finally finished and submitted it. It will be 10 nervous minutes, plus five for discussion. Now I must prepare myself for delivering it.

I said “nervous” but I realize I’m seldom nervous during presentations. I am when I’m drafting and preparing the presentation, I am even more when the date approaches but once I’m doing it, I’m doing it. At the end I’ll see whether I messed up or not.

This has the added difficulty of being my first presentation of a scientific paper, but I hope my previous experiences at academia can help me.

I’ll depart to Antwerp in Saturday and my presentation slot is scheduled for Tuesday morning. I’ll try to come back here before that.

wctr 2013 rio

A strike of luck made me know (on time) about the abstract submission period for the 13th WCTR. I knew the conference would take place next year in Rio de Janeiro, but I was not aware the abstract submission deadline would be so soon as today. Anyway, I found it some days ago on the Facebook group Transport Planning and Analysis and decided to counter-challenge my supervisor (he had challenged me for the conference in Antwerp next month) for a co-authored paper about my PhD topic. This time I managed to draft the abstract in a more confident and right-to-the-point way, which I hope will help me when it comes to acceptance time…

The idea is the same with the Antwerp conference: using these opportunities for testing, with a large and informed audience, my progress, ideas and paths. The paper should be build on the paper written for Antwerp and on the work plan designed for my PhD research. This also has the added advantage of serving as intermediate deliverables with a fixed deadline, something of the utmost importance in a period my job is draining a lot of time and energy from me and I must use all tactics to focus and make the most out of my freetime. Let’s see if it works.

meeting of the research group

Yesterday I was in my first meeting with the research group on Transport Infrastructure, Systems and Policy (NISPT), our unit within CESUR (Center for Urban and Regional Systems) research centre.

The agenda dealt basically with the election of the new group coordinator and the discussion of NIPST’s new strategic guidelines. For me, it was a good chance to understand how the group works, to meet new colleagues and to catch up with friends I already haven’t seen for a while. Furthermore, I managed to snatch a fruitful crash-meeting with my supervisor, which is always a must.

conference paper

Is is being a busy end of the year. Not content enough with research proposals submission and discussion presentation, today I accepted a challenge from my supervisor, proposing presenting a paper for WCTRS-SIG2’s conference on “Key Developments in the Port and Maritime Sector”. It will be held in Antwerp between May 21st and 23rd, 2012.

At the same time, it will be good to keep track of time and make me work with defined deadlines.

tantlinger, the other part of the equation


Keith Tantlinger, 1919-2011

Malcolm McLean is many times quoted as the inventor of the container, without any credit given to Keith Tantlinger. But it was Tantlinger who fine-tuned McLean’s vision and engineered essential concepts that allowed the box to be used in a standardized way, kick-starting productivity boosts and universal usability of the container as the cornerstone of world trade and globalization.

Keith Tantlinger died today and there are many publications recalling his achievements and contributions. Here is Marine Insight’s one, which I’ve chosen for you.

coursework: check!

Stop the press! I’ve just received my last grade and coursework is DO-NE!!!

It has been a long and demanding path, lasting from September 2010 until late last month, constantly travelling, commuting, studying – and working at my regular job. At the same time, I really enjoyed it and learnt a lot in all five courses I was enrolled: Research Methodologies, Risk and Decision Making, Optimization of Transport Infrastructures and Operations, Business Models and Contracts, and Transport Policy and Institutions.

Now it’s time to take a big breath and focusing on the thesis proposal I need to prepare and present for the Thesis Project curricular unit, due later this year. It’s the only thing left to finish my first year at the program and to enter in the long and big immersion of research  and… thesing.

supervision has arrived!

Four days ago I received the confirmation that the person I asked to supervise my research had accepted my invitation. It will be Professor José Manuel Viegas, full professor at Instituto Superior Técnico and coordinator of the PhD program in Transportation Systems.

This is great news for me. And also means I need to pace my work, as I already have some preliminary input for developing the first draft of my thesis proposal. Let’s go!

1st post (after the previous one)

OK, now that we know each other, let’s go for a quick recap of the story so far. I started my PhD program in September 2010. It comprises coursework during the first year, including the curricular unit Thesis Project, plus two years of research, at the end of which I am supposed to submit and defend my thesis. Of course it would be handy if I managed to start research while doing coursework, but given the usual lack of time for doing that plus the fact I’m studying part-time and squeezing my time between academic activities and job responsabilities, I’m finding that just a little bit difficult…

I had to enroll in five courses I chose with the help of my designated tutor: Research Methodologies, Risk and Decision Making, and Optimization of Transport Infrastructures and Operations in the Fall semester; and Business Models and Contracts, and Transport Policy and Institutions in the Spring semester. At some point during the year, I’ll have to find an academic that, based on a draft thesis proposal (I’ve already finished), will be designated as my official supervisor.

The moment I’m writing, I’m done with most of my coursework (reason why I found the time – and thought it would make sense – to start the blog) and I have only one exam left.

I think this is it. And now it’s time to go back studying. But not without wishing a Happy Easter for those who celebrate it.