The annual plenary meeting of TRUSS was hosted by ENSA in their premises of Maliaño (Cantabria, Spain), on the Thursday 16th and Friday 17th June 2016. The agenda included a range of activities described below.
- Management and Supervisory Board meetings where the project coordinator (Dr. Arturo Gonzalez) reviewed progress in all Work Packages, financial matters and other items together with principal investigators and supervisors (Emma Merino and Luis Costas from ENSA, Prof. James BrownJohn from FSDL, Dr. Salam Al-Sabah from Arup, Prof. Joan Ramon Casas from UPC, Prof. Debra Laefer, Prof. Eugene OBrien and Loreto Manriquez from UCD, Dr. Jørgen Krarup from Greenwood Engineering, Dr.Maria Nogal from TCD and Dr. Luis Neves from UNOTT), and Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) representative (Matteo Vagnoli).
- Industrial Training consisting of a technical visit to ENSA. The General Manager, Rafael Triviño, and Nuclear Business Marketing & Sales Manager at ENSA, Guillermo Calleja, gave presentations on how the company has adapted to the changing conditions of the market from their foundation in 1973, the commercial strategy in the exploitation of their resources, internationalisation and product diversification, as well as safety rules prior to the visit. Then, TRUSS attendants were divided into three groups assigned to an expert (Javier Maldonado, Head of Engineering; Luis Costas, senior engineer and main supervisor in TRUSS; and Guillermo Calleja) that guided the TRUSS cohort through ENSA facilities. ESRs were able to observe the massive nuclear components under construction (there are single elements such as steam generators as heavy as 1000 tonnes with cranes able to lift up to 1300 tonnes). Alberto Gonzalez, ESR in project 3, showed the nuclear component in real scale, that he is working on (the free standing spent fuel storage rack), which is ‘only’ around 60 tonnes self-weight! (visit ENSA website for details on their products). ESRs received explanations on how these metallic structures are built, and they were able to eye-witness some of the processes of bore, weld, assemblage and transport employed in the manufacturing and delivery of these large structural components in a unique nuclear supplier facility.
- Academic Training. The consortium had the privilege of the contribution of Prof. Enrique Castillo Ron from University of Cantabria, top elite researcher in the fields of extreme statistics, fatigue and Bayesian and functional networks, amongst others (https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Enrique_Castillo3). Prof. Castillo joined TRUSS for the day, when he delivered a master class on “Extreme Value Statistics” covering order statistics, limit distributions of order statistics, engineering examples, key recipes to deal with extremes and the mathematical background behind them. Prof. Castillo also participated in some Doctoral Studies Panel (DSP) meetings and in the network activity, where ESRs and Supervisors benefited from his invaluable input.
- Communication Skills. Each ESR presented the progress on their research and answer questions to the TRUSS consortium and local researchers from ENSA and University of Cantabria. These presentations were followed by separate meetings of each ESR with a small group of experts (DSPs) that provided feedback on the personal career development plan (PCDP) and research ideas. Discussions continued during network activities that took place after the DSPs.
- Networking Activity. ENSA organised activities that contributed to form professional relationships and to act upon research opportunities, share information and seek potential collaborators between ESRs, Supervisors and local researchers. After the annual plenary meeting, all attendees were invited to join a boat trip along Santander’s bay, the largest estuary on the North coast of Spain. A cultural visit to the Altamira neocave and museum was also included within the activities. The latter allowed participants to be introduced to the history behind this paleolithic cave, a Unesco World Heritage site famous for its great hall of polychrome rock paintings featuring human hands, bisons, deers, horses, other mammals and symbols.