This morning, just before 9 AM, the phone rang. The caller ID read “Civil Env Eng.” Hmmm…who could this be?, I thought. It was a professor in the School of Civil Engineering here at UT who is applying for a Career Grant from the National Science Foundation, and he needed help writing the Data Management Plan. He had found me through searching the Libraries’ website. We scheduled an appointment for a little later in the day.
Now, I know I just was trained for the last two years in data management, and this is exactly the thing I expected to do in this position. I even used to be a civil engineer, so I could speak his language, right? But still, I was nervous. I was meeting with a Ph.D. researcher on research that I probably wouldn’t be able to understand.
When we met, he explained his research idea to me, and I actually understood it! He’s a structural engineer and geotechnical engineering all in one. His research is on reticulated micropiles, an innovative way to design foundation piles that actually mimics the load bearing capabilities of a large oak tree using a study called biomorphic transformation. It looks a things in nature, which are optimized for whatever their role in nature is — in this sense a tree with its root ball being optimally designed to handle lateral loads — and applies it to the built environment. So his research is studying a micropile configuration that mimics a large oak tree’s root structure. Fascinating, no?
Anyway, I was able to help him understand what we could do for him here in the Libraries. I offered to review his Data Management Plan as soon as he sends it to me. I’m happy with my first consulting meeting with a researcher at UT.