Sasha’s summer at EDF immersed her in a fast paced R&D environment where she learned how research, ideas, and solutions to problems are developed in an international setting
Sasha Churikova learning about the hexapod and how it is used in concrete damage analysis in LMT-Cachan mechanics lab in Paris

Unique technology

In the EDF Analysis of Acoustics and Mechanics group, MIT sophomore Sasha Churikova simulated damage in industrial concrete using cutting edge software Code_Aster (developed by the company). “This is really one of the first types of software for this kind of analysis,” says Sasha. “EDF is one of the first to use this type of simulation and it was amazing to be in the environment where ideas of solutions to difficult problems are produced and debated right in front of you.”

Sasha’s project consisted of developing and testing an algorithm that would apply automatic remeshing to samples of concrete in regions where damage would propagate. This technique allows one to “control” the damage and its path. “It was a bit of a challenge at first getting used to the inner workings of the program,” says Sasha, “But I realized I was a part of something very special. The results of this kind of research are very useful in developing ways to test the strength and durability of material used in industry and energy fields.”

Changing her path

One advantage of being at a leading lab is the varied experiences it attracts. “There was a real sense of community in my group at EDF. The environment was very international and I was able to learn about how research is conducted all over the world, from Iran to China.” 

Sasha has returned to France for another MISTI experience at CNRS in Grenoble, but the country and science have already had a great impact on her. “I realized that not only do I want to continue to immerse myself in the culture of this country, but also to contribute to its amazing spirit of innovation by working or studying here in the future.”

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