Too bad. This post is not about American Football. I would love to write about that, but so far, there is not much of it around Niigata. I probably have to join a college – the only place they play. There’s a rugby team; rather cool to have some fun with them, but the play on asphalt. But this is an other story.
Now, I would like to talk about my Job at Protec Engineering. It seems to be less interesting than stories about dates… but don’t make up your minds to fast. There is a show at the end of this post.
My daily work starts at 9 o’clock. I must be there at 8 o’clock, but from 8 to 9 I am just doing work which I don’t count to my job. Together with three other freshmen, we have to empty everybody’s dust bin. Then, there is a 30min meeting of the technical design and development team, where I belong to. So i am sitting in the outer circle of a group of ten people trying not to fall asleep. Recently, I’ve started to learn some Japanese vocabulary during it. ( it is nice to be hidden in the outer circle!). Seriously, of these discussions I don’t get any clue. At the end I am allowed to say what I will do for the day. Unfortunately, this got a little bit repetitive, since my vocabulary increases only slowly and since my work has not changed a lot since the beginning. So at this moment I am used to say:
„Today, I learn about LS-DYNA.“ or the variation of it „Today, I WORK with LS-DYNA.“
It must be annoying for them as well! After this not so exciting start in the morning, my work gets better. My company mats are actually very friendly and they help me a lot – as far as they can. My real work at this company consists of two elements. Calculating with a very expensive software (LS-DYNA) on the structures which are built by this company. (Structures are houses, bridges, tunnels, dams etc.). Secondly, assisting on the experiments on the same structures.
So, this is about my work outside (this is why the title), about some experiments of deadly scales. As cool as it sounds, this is true. This company designs and provides structures against rockfall, avalanches and landslides (Steinschlag, Lawinen, Erdrutsch). Their policy is to test all their structures on real scale with their ultimate load and further. This time, the simulation of a rockfall was the interest. Pulling up to 20m height a 1’000kg steel ball, in order to let him swing into the protection fence. In this picture, you can see the set up of the experiment. They are going to pull the steel ball back to let it swing against the post.
I might explain it once, to get things clear. Such a fence as in the picture is normally at the bottom of a slope, where rocks are falling down sometimes. These fences protect houses and roads below such slopes against a rockfall. This kind of structure is perfectly fitted to the particular rockfall risk of a each specific side. The bigger you build them, the more they can resist, but also the more expensive they are. This is why my company does a huge effort on analyzing and testing them. Knowing the mechanical behavior to construct just enough big to avoid the risk of rockfall but not too big to waste money.
Such a test is under normal conditions a funny thing for engineers. Maybe especially for engineers, because they can pretend to work doing this. By a lack of luck, it happens that this day was so far the coldest day among these weeks. It rained, sometimes horizontally due to the wind which was a absolutely cold and wet one, directly from the see. Yup, that was a though moment. Although, I am very used to cold weather from scouting and working outside on construction sites, this one was hard to stand. At this moment, I was really wondering what I was doing there far away from my family and friends!
At least, there was bit of luck because during the actual experiment, I could hide in these boxs. I had to film the experiment from that box. Sitting in this for this weather lovely box, I was thinking of all the movies where they test nuclear bombs. Our test was a little bit less spectacular and less sad, but otherwise the same. There was a countdown, red blinking lights and even the silence of the moment just before the big crash.
There was not only filming, there was other work, too. For example, every single cable from the window in the left picture goes to a sensor which must be attached to the structure. This was made by Ogawasan and me.
Or, I will never forget how we had to collect trash pieces of the ground on the test site. For an hour at this freezing cold and wet day, I was looking at the ground for tiny pieces of trash. I understand that you want to have your area clean. But there are good moments to do such jobs and bad ones. I would have chosen any other moment.
Sometimes, I realize that Japanese people don’t have the same choices we use to have.
Nevertheless, this day was over once. And the longer time passes, the more only good memories remain.
Please enjoy the above mentioned show. This is still only my work, do not expect too much…
By the way, the picture at the top of the post is from Nagaoka, where another experiment is going. That one’s about avalanche protection structures. The house in the picture is the snow and ice research center of Japan. The main reason to show this picture is to keep myself motivated for the work outside in winter. And it’s a nice header for this post, too.