The following is an excerpt.

CASA’s researchers reach out to many more as technical meetings and seminars are now just a click away.

Two men attending a virtual meeting in an office
Professors Magnus Langseth and Tore Børvik join PhD candidate Kristoffer A. Brekken´s presentation on SFI CASA´s Technical meeting on Protective structures 27 August. (All photos: Sølvi W. Normannsen)

The virtual meetings have become the new normal. Whether we love them or hate them, Zoom, Teams and Skype have come to stay. And more and more of us see that the downsides are far outweighed by their benefits.
«Covid 19 put a ban on travelling and thus prevent us from personal meetings, but in fact, we now reach out toward many more people at our individual partners. The online solutions made us more flexible and opened up for new and better ways of communicating with our partners», says SFI CASA’s director Magnus Langseth.


Since early summer, the Centre has organised a row of online dialogue meetings with partners and open seminars on ongoing work. So far, there have been technical meetings on glass, polymers and physical security. And there are more to come.
The fact is that the digital meetings gather three to four times more participants than the physical sessions would have. The whole thing means less time and costs spent on travelling. At the same time, the Centre reaches out to more people. The feedback is also very positive, according to representatives of CASA’s core team.
The Technical meeting on glass gathered 36 people on 17 June. 24 of the participants were representatives of the partners. The week after, Protective structures gathered 45 participants. 34 of them were employees at CASA’s partners.


«It is brilliant that so many join. Our research becomes more available», says Professor Arild Holm Clausen.
24 June he organised a Technical meeting in the Polymeric Materials programme. In ordinary meetings, usually, around 6 to 10 partner representatives show up. Now they were 18.
«Those who attend the physical, technical meetings are very dedicated people. We usually have many engaging discussions and questions around the table. Even though we have set aside a whole day, time is often short “, says Clausen.
He shares the impression that participants tend to be a little more disciplined when attending online meetings. The transition to virtual meetings means fewer questions and less discussion after the conversations.
«So, there are definitely some downsides. But as it is now, and none of us is allowed to travel anywhere, the online meetings are perfectly ok », Professor Clausen says.


The last in the series of seminars had the somewhat cryptic title «* MAT_258: more than a t-shirt?». Researcher Miguel Costas took the lead role in front of the camera with Associate Professor David Morin as an assistant, both wearing white T-shirts printed «* MAT_258».
There was definitely more to this presentation than the cool outfit.
The topic was the TTR-model and specific challenges related to the simulation of ductile failure in metals. More than half of the people attending were partner representatives.
Miguel Costas admits he has mixed feelings for online meetings. He sees the advantages for those who listen comfortably from their offices. Also, it is the apparent fact that the Centre can reach out to people who would not be able to participate in person.
«In this way, the partners get first-hand information about the development and what we strive for daily and can provide direct immediate feedback».


However, there are real and tangible disadvantages, according to Costas.
«I don’t like talking to a camera in a semi-empty room, and not being able to move from a static position. Honestly, I don’t think anyone does», the researcher says, adding that he hopes this way of presenting will not last forever.
And the T-shirt thing? It was Miguel Costas thinking it would be nice having the outfits as an internal joke. So, last year he made some for the close collaborators and authors of the paper «A through-thickness damage regularisation scheme for shell elements subjected to severe bending and membrane deformations».


«People definitely ask about them at the conferences and recognise us when they see us again. Two men in similiar T-shirts in front of a whiteboardI guess that is good, he says, revealing that there might be a new batch of t-shirts coming soon «once we finish the anisotropic extension of the model, we’ll see».
The next CASA seminar is scheduled 5 October. The theme is ductile fracture in aluminium, and research fellow Henrik Granum gives the lecture.
And there is more in stock. Granum is one of a total of 7 PhD candidates who will defend their theses over the next few months. All defences will be digital, publicly available on Zoom.

Below is the preliminary plan for technical meetings, presentations and PhD exams at CASA this autumn.