The following is an excerpt.
If you’re grateful for Magnus Langseth’s scientific contributions, say thank you to his wife. She stopped him from taking over the family farm. What she hasn’t done, is take the hunter out of him.
A good number of Norwegian municipalities don’t hold meetings for several weeks each autumn. During the moose hunt, no one will show up. The hunt is sacred. The mixture of excitement, companionship, autumn leaves at their most colourful and an occasional blue sky beats everything. Plus, there’s delicious food to be harvested. One of this writer’s fondest childhood memories is the smell of moose kidneys sizzling in the pan.
Point taken? SFI CASA Director Magnus Langseth is a hunter. Come late September, he’s gone. Crocs empty in the office, toes happily curling in forest boots.
The link? Possibly none, but a moose hunter needs to be alert, focused, patient and good at communicating with the rest of the team. This just might be some of the qualities that have brought SIMLab and CASA to their current position.
When the Research Council of Norway wrote their Midway Evaluation of SFI SIMLab, they described Professor Langseth like this: “of remarkable scientific and professional management quality”.
He is Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Impact Engineering and sits on three more editorial boards. In other words, he is a world capacity in his field.
At the same time, he is a boy, beaming with childish joy. His energy and enthusiasm never fails, his creativity and ability to act swiftly likewise. His laughter echoes in the corridors.
There are other sides, too, he confesses:
“I very much need to feel that everyone is on board. Sometimes, when I say or do things, I can spend days waiting for signals that everything is OK.”
“The group has been likened to a family. What do you think?”
“I sympathise with that. Everyone knows each other really well; the atmosphere is friendly and very open. In a family, mom and dad should be present. With us, senior professors arrive early and they are not the first to leave. There is a general sense of well-being. We enjoy each other’s company.”
What would happen if…?
A recent evaluation by three international panels found that 2 out of 64 Norwegian technology research groups were world leading. SIMLab was one of them.
Professor Langseth emphasizes the combined effort behind. Building the group that has so far culminated in the NOK 300 million SFI CASA program has taken 25 years.
Some persons and institutions have been particularly important. Professor Per Kristian Larsen was vital from the start. He was Langseth’s supervisor for his PhD thesis.
Statoil Director and NTNU Adjunct Professor Jon M. Huslid played a decisive role in choosing impact as focus point. In 1983/84, he commissioned and financed Langseth’s PhD thesis.
“Statoil were concerned what would happen if a 3-ton drill pipe dropped to the deck of an oilrig during installation. He wanted us to find out. We wrote a description of the project and applied for NOK 80 000. We got one million. This enabled us to build a test rig that is still in use. We developed a formula model that describes how much energy is needed to penetrate a steel plate. The formula still stands,” says Langseth.
In comes aluminium
The focus on impact in turn triggered Arnfinn Jenssen, Head of R&D at the Norwegian Defence Estates Agency. He and Hydro Director Einar Wathne were central in the funding of research activities and the lab that is such a crucial part of SIMLab.
Hydro’s interest started after another decisive moment in SIMLab/CASA’s history, namely the discussion between Larsen, Langseth and Odd Sture Hopperstad about the future of the research group. They decided to dive into aluminium and the focus was placed on the modelling of the material and its use in structural applications.
As Langseth puts it: “Hydro had a lot of metallurgists, but limited competence on modelling and structural design.”
Arnfinn Jenssen also provided valuable staff by sending newly graduated civil engineers to SIMLab for their military service. One of them was Professor Tore Børvik. Today he is CASA’s Co-Director. Professor Arild Holm Clausen and SINTEF Research Director Odd-Geir Lademo were recruited in the same way.
In addition, Professor Langseth stresses the theoretical capacity of CASA’s Research Director Hopperstad: “Our co-operation has been extremely rewarding, with me on the more practical and administrative side.”
Some of this is history, some is still actual fact. As far as the future is concerned, Magnus Langseth is happy to see that CASA succeeds in its strategy of recruiting candidates primarily from NTNU.
And the farm? Hasn’t seen cows and sheep in decades.