Concrete structures have been fascinating to me since doing my bachelor’s degree. I did my first dissertation on concrete structures (e-plastic waste blended concrete), followed by modelling concrete structures during my master’s degree, so I knew that I wanted to work on concrete for my PhD as well. When I looked into the PhD topic, I found lots of amazing Loughborough researchers working in this area who supervise PhD students in the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering, so I applied for the position immediately.

My PhD research looks at how self-healing Engineered Cementitious Composites (ECC) have the potential to offer an improved infrastructure with enhanced durability. It investigates the performance of steam and water cured self-healing ECC samples with either crystalline admixture or magnesium oxide as self-healing agents.

Self-healing concrete is a developing material - the successful application of this self-healing material could reduce maintenance and save millions of pounds in the construction sector. I am hoping to see my research outcome implemented in the construction sector in the next few years.

Meena

For my research, I needed some specific pieces of laboratory equipment. My supervisors helped me organise and buy most of the equipment required, which was incredibly helpful. Since starting my PhD, the resources and facilities in the School’s Sir Frank Gibb Laboratory have improved immensely – last year, £1.3 million worth of new equipment was added, which is very exciting for all doctoral researchers.

I was amazed by the vastly qualified technicians at the Sir Frank Gibb Laboratory. They help everyone find the solution for every practical challenge – there is nothing they cannot do! I did some tests in the Loughborough Materials Characteristic Centre (LMCC), which was a great experience as the technicians and facilities are top-notch.

Now that I’m part of the Loughborough family, I am enjoying the incredibly positive and helpful environment and the diversity of the University. When I started my PhD, I was welcomed with open arms by every member of staff in the School, which made the transition to a new university incredibly easy for me.

I have had lots of fantastic opportunities throughout my PhD at Loughborough. I was the PhD Student Representative for the Structures and Materials group during my first two years. I was also part of the Health and Safety Committee and the ABCE Research Hub Committee, which I enjoyed a lot.

The University has also organised various Doctoral College seminars, which have been great for meeting other researchers across the University. The sporting facilities on campus are also incredible.

The one piece of advice I would give to a future PhD student is to enjoy the learning. It is a fantastic journey and you will see yourself getting better day-by-day. It is also good to discuss your research with your peers and take on board constructive criticism as it will only make your research better.

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