Sharing Experience – PHD and Working at Osborne

Jack Cottrell, Graduate Engineer at Osborne shares his experience with us;

“I joined Osborne in 2015 as a Trainee Engineer during my industrial placement year from the University of Portsmouth. Since graduating with a Masters in Civil Engineering and Surveying, I have joined Osborne full time and I am currently working on the M27 Romsey Road Bridge replacement and Temporary Works Design for Minor Works.

In addition to my role as Graduate Engineer, I am undertaking a part time PhD at the University of Portsmouth in the Numerical Modelling of Fibre Reinforced Compressed Earth Blocks. The fully-funded PhD was advertised through the University and following a lengthy application process I was fortunate enough to become the successful candidate. I have since been granted a scholarship by the University to carry out the research.

Fibre Reinforced Compressed Earth Blocks (FRCEB) are a type of construction material made from unbaked earth. It is estimated that one-third to one half of the world’s population live in houses made from this material. In the UK, this material is not only used for the restoration and repair of historic buildings, but also has significant potential for the use in low-energy, environmentally friendly and sustainable construction.

The broad aim of my research project is to bridge the gap between experimental testing and numerical modelling of FRCEB. Previous research into FRCEB has shown that inclusion of natural fibres can improve the physical, mechanical and durability properties of the material. However, there is a need to develop better understanding of the performance of FRCEB using advanced material sciences and computer modelling techniques. Numerical modelling and the Finite Element Method (FEM) will be used to simulate the behaviour of the fibre reinforced blocks under various loading conditions.

The outcome of my research has enormous potential in the advances of material science. The interaction between the fibres and the soil matrix poses a significant challenge that has not yet been fully investigated using computer modelling or FEM. The research will provide an opportunity to improve the properties of FRCEB and similar fibre reinforced materials, which has the potential to benefit both developing countries, as well as the UK construction industry.

I am very grateful for the support of all my colleagues and extremely fortunate that Osborne has seen the benefit and potential in my research. I am proud to be part of such an innovative and forward-thinking company.”

By Jack Cottrell, MEng (Hons)
Graduate Engineer