Researchers that are new to centrifuge modeling or new to our facility are faced with learning a wide range of technologies and procedures necessary for successfully completing a centrifuge test. For example, a new researcher may need to learn about many of the following items.
- Calibration of sensors for measuring pore pressures, displacements, accelerations, strains, and/or stresses.
- Operation of data acquisition systems and understand data processing techniques.
- Construction of soil models, including sand pluviation methods, clay mixing and consolidation methods, sensor placement techniques, saturation methods, and viscous pore fluids.
- Detailing of structural models, such as piles, building frames, and abutments. Hydraulic actuator controls for the loading of structures or penetrometers.
- Hydraulic actuator controls for the loading of structures or penetrometers.
- Utilization of high-speed video systems.
- Shear wave velocity measurement systems.
- Data archiving procedures.
- Any range of tasks unique to their project, such as grout gel times, voice coil vibrators, biocementation processes, or admixtures for controlling sensitivity of reconstituted clays.
The work involved in performing a centrifuge test includes “research” tasks and “operations” tasks. Operations tasks are performed by the facility staff. Research tasks are performed by the user or the user may pay for assistance by facility staff. The distinction between research and operations tasks is described in the Roles and Responsibilities section of the Equipment Site Utilization Form (ESUF). The fees associated with staff time for research support are listed in the approved recharge rates for our site. A copy of the ESUF and the recharge rates for our facility are available on the Facility pages of this website.
There are three primary ways that training is obtained: (1) on-site mentorship under an experienced researcher, (2) on-site training provided by our staff or researchers, and (3) off-site training at other facilities, workshops, and/or courses.
On-site mentorship is our recommended means for a new researcher to obtain training on a full spectrum of required research tasks. The new researcher arranges to spend from 4-6 weeks helping a more experienced researcher perform their test; most experiments require two active researchers, so the more experienced researcher gains valuable assistance while the new researcher gains hands-on training. In many cases, an agreement may be reached where the assistance is returned on the new researcher’s experiment. Mentorship-based training has been most successful in our experience.
On-site hands-on training on research tasks can also be provided by our facility staff at the approved recharge rates for their time. The time required for training varies with the researcher’s background, so interested parties should contact us for clarification on likely costs.
Off-site training is an important component for new researchers in all situations. New researchers are encouraged to attend one of the joint UCD/RPI Centrifuge Training Workshops, to become familiar with centrifuge scaling laws and literature, and to have experience with experimental techniques. Our experience has been that new researchers should have a strong experimental background to be successful in leading a centrifuge research experiment.
Visiting researchers must obtain an “appointment without salary” at UC Davis prior to commencing work at our site. An “appointment without salary” is facilitated by our administrative staff and is critical because it provides visiting researchers will the applicable university insurance coverage.
Visiting researchers are also required, prior to commencing work at our site, to read the site safety manual, attend a safety training meeting with our site safety coordinator, and read and sign a laboratory use agreement that explains the safety policies of our center.