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MAXAM Foundation - Press room - Interviews - MAXAM Bachelor’s and Master's Degree Dissertation Awards 2018


Blanca Castells
Master's Degree Dissertation Award
Project:
Seismic radiation of an explosive column

Irati López
Bachelor’s Degree Dissertation Award
Project: TNT Equivalent for various explosives based on shockwave velocity

On 30th May, Blanca and Irati received this recognition for their research work; an achievement which they have used as the basis to keep working on, as they tell us in this interview.

What motivated you to study this master's degree?

Blanca:
The Master's Degree in Mining Engineering was the logical follow-on from my studies, a Degree in Mining Technology, as it allowed me to delve into subjects I had previously only scratched the surface of. I am still lacking hands-on experience, but at least I now have a theory-based overview of what mining is.

Irati: I have always been more inclined towards technology or science subjects, which I believed could bring me closer to business, to the labour market. Taking this into account, and after analysing degree courses in engineering fields and others, I decided that Mining Engineering was the one best suited for me, specifically the Degree in Engineering of Energy Resources, Fuels and Explosives.

What have you learned most about the world of explosives, both academically and from a personal perspective, in the master's degree?

Blanca: What I find most eye-catching in handling explosives is the optimization of the process. Throughout the different subjects and on my visits to blasts or related conferences, I have always been struck by the in-depth study behind each blast: how every gram of explosive is designed to reduce subsequent costs, to leave a specific slope, to fragment a rock one way or another, etc. The care required for all parameters never ceases to amaze me, and I suppose this can be extrapolated to anything else you do: pay close attention, as any minor detail can completely change the result..
 
Irati: In academic terms, I have learned that it is a very diverse field insofar as it includes disciplines such as mining, civil engineering, security and defence, among others. From a personal point of view, I have seen how it is a subject that is very much aligned with my interests, and one which I would not mind pursuing as my professional career.

What has been your most rewarding experience as a student?

Blanca: I could not pick out just one. I have had a wonderful time these last few years… I have enjoyed the subjects, studying with my friends in the library, the feeling of release after an exam… I would not point to one specific aspect, but rather the overall experience has been incredibly rewarding.

Irati: Without a doubt, completing the Degree Dissertation. After several years of learning, mostly theory-based, I was given the opportunity to apply my learning by experimenting in an actual case, carrying out a research project that resulted in an innovative, productive solution. I could not imagine a better way to start feeling like an engineer.

Could you briefly explain your master's degree dissertation?

Blanca: It consisted of generating a computer program that replicates a theoretical model for the displacement of rock that occurs following detonation of an explosive column, and determining its accuracy by checking the data obtained against the actual results.

Irati: The aim was to calculate the TNT equivalent relative to the shockwave velocity of previously tested civil and military explosives, and to subsequently analyse the results obtained, bearing in mind that there are no references from similar previous works. 

What were the main challenges you encountered along the way? How did you overcome them?

Blanca: In the theoretical model, I came up against some advanced arithmetic which I had to put a lot of work into, as well as signal processing, which is never trivial. I overcame them by working long hours alongside my tutor.

Irati: The challenges typically found in research, such as achieving the TNT equivalent based on an unusual parameter like shockwave velocity.

What do you intend to do now that you have finished this stage at the ETSIME?

Blanca: To carry on, when you like something, why would you give it up? Right now I am doing my PhD, so I will be at the School for at least another three years, hopefully more.

Irati: I have chosen to continue with my education, and I am about to graduate in a Master's Degree in Industrial Engineering, which I have had to balance with working a job.



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