Architect, researcher and assistant professor in the degrees of Architecture and Design
Who are you?
My name is Borja Iraola, I am a Spanish architect, researcher and assistant professor in the degrees of Architecture and Design. I combine my professional practice in San Sebastian with my position in the University of Navarra in Pamplona. My research field is about timber structures and their analysis with Finite Element Models with Abaqus. Moreover, I am currently getting into fiber composites produced by additive manufacturing.
What is your background?
I was born in San Sebastian, where I live currently, but studied my degree in architecture in Pamplona. I worked for several architectural offices and got a Master on Heritage Restoration, where I focused on Timber Structures. I then decided to start a PhD in Applied Engineering about timber structures.
What do you think a doctoral thesis is/what do you think research is?
A doctoral thesis is a unique opportunity to study a topic that really interests you, contributing to expanding the knowledge about it. The final document, the thesis, is just a small part of all what you have learnt about the topic and about research. Because research is more than the very important aspect of publishing papers, it has to do with expanding the knowledge in a more universal way, which implies attending conferences, meeting people, collaborating with the industry, developing new products, creating a network of contacts and many other activities outside of your desk.
What is/has your thesis been about?
I started my thesis in a department that was just also starting in the field of Timber Structures and my research was about establishing the basis for the future research. The department had experience in Finite Element Analysis (FEA) for Steel and Reinforced Concrete structures, and in order to apply the FEA for timber structures a complex material model was needed. Therefore, in my thesis I developed a material model algorithm that was implemented in the software Abaqus as a subroutine.
Any advice for a student who is thinking of going into research?
Students that already have some interest in research should go for it. Phd studies promote a wide research experience that can not be achieved in other ways and they will allow to obtain a solid base for any challenging charge in the future even if not directly research related. To those students, I would recommend to remain curious, to be aware of the research opportunities during the degree and to be in contact with people that already do passionate research on their topic of interest. Almost without notice, they will be bewitched by the research activity.