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Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Arctic research without validation!

I’m an engineer, but can appreciate the fact that many problems can’t be solved with new technology or by solving an equation. Since June, when I visited the ASME conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering (OMAE 2013), I’ve been revisiting a thought several times:
In the opening speech to the arctic symposium at the conference it was clearly stated that in arctic engineering everything starts with the arctic operation. Without understanding the intended operation there is no point in doing the engineering. This sounds very true and important to understand…

But then the presentations started and none of the ones I visited even reflected on the intended operation. Many presentations discussed calculations in model scale and calibration with model tests and when there were questions about agreement with the full scale situation everybody said: “Don’t know, we don’t have any full scale data”.
So my impression from the conference (hope it’s wrong) is that all over world there are a lot of researchers doing arctic studies with the aim make arctic operations feasible (and risk assessment on arctic operations) without validated relevant data. The excuse is that the full scale tests needed are very expensive. But maybe the tests it is more worthwhile than putting the money on research that can’t be validated?

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