The following is an excerpt.

Take a closer look at this photo. It sums up how the coronavirus put its mark on Ole Vestrum’s defence of 4 years of doctoral work. 

Digital defence Ole Vestrum
From left: Administrator Professor Bjørn Skallerud, Ole Vestrum and supervisor Professor Tore Børvik. The photo was taken by back up opponent professor Arild Holm Clausen.

There were only four people physically present in the room on 26 March. Plus, a solid dose of disinfectant Antibac. Neither handshakes nor hugs. No pats on the back. All the chairs empty.
«I am just very relieved. It has been a quite intense period», said Ole Vestrum to Østlandsposten (+) after the first digital doctoral defence in SIMLab and SFI CASA’s history was a fact.


Administrator Professor Bjørn Helge Skallerud from Department of Structural Engineering, NTNU was the only member of the Assessment Committee present. Opponents Professor Carlos Guedes Soares, Universidade de Lisboa, and Senior Scientist Frode Grytten, SINTEF Materials and Chemistry, joined via Skype.
Around 50 people logged on to Skype to follow Vestrum defend his doctoral work on «Impact on porous polymer coated pipelines».
The historical event also caught some media interest (Adresseavisen left).


When the presentation was over, the big screen behind him was filled with emojis virtually applauding, hugging, cheering and smiling. The subject on Ole Vestrum’s trial lecture was “Concrete structures exposed to extreme loading: Behaviour, modelling and simulation”. The prescribed subject was given in the morning on 12 March. Just a few hours later, NTNU cancelled all physical, scheduled lessons and practical training on campus.

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As the planned doctoral party was cancelled, all the more Ole appreciated that a bunch of colleagues dressed up and met on a digital surprise party (below) via Teams in the evening. SFI CASA’s new doctor has already signed up for a position at the Norwegian Defence Estates Agency (NDEA). NDEA is one of the Centre’s research partners, and Vestrum will continue to work with protection and physical security.