– Enormous projects and excellent presentations. The research in the E39- project can be utilised on our entire infrastructure, stated Terje Moe Gustavsen, Director General, NPRA.

A basis for the whole infrastructure in Norway

The E39 project currently has more than 50 young researchers working on how to achieve an improved and ferry-free coastal highway route E39 in Norway. The project is divided into various subprojects, and the researchers are working on various issues related to fjord crossings, sustainable infrastructure, and community development.

Read more about the organiszation

Meet some of our young researchers

– Research is an absolute necessity in order to be able to achieve the goal of an improved and ferry-free E39, stresses program manager Kjersti Kvalheim Dunham.

– We intend on crossing extremely wide and deep fjords in western Norway, an area known for its extreme harsh wind. Many researchers are working on how we can build extremely long bridges and tunnels that can withstand being exposed to severe weather, she adds.

– We are planning on building robust bridges, explains Dunham. The researchers are working on new types of bridge decks to curb the natural fluctuations and vibrations caused by wind loads, so that the bridges will move slower. Smaller fluctuations in the structure mean less wear and tear and therefore longer life cycle and not least, the bridges will provide a good driving experience, she says. 

Which three words do the researchers associate with the E39-project? 

Dunham explains that a key goal for the researchers is to prevent movement in the structures, but also to develop new methods of constructing bridges with lighter materials. Long bridges are heavy and if we are prepared to build the world's longest suspension bridge, we must find alternative materials that can withstand the wind loads in addition to carrying their own weight, she elaborates.

Peter Nilsson at Chalmers University of Technology is one of several researchers helping us to find lighter materials. His project is about building light steel structures by using alternative welding methods, aiming to impose the least damage to the the quality of the steel. Dunham explains that when welding, you can affect the durability of the steel.We have an exciting collaboration with Kleven, a shipbuilding group in western Norway that performs welding mechanically. When robots perform the welding we have good control of the design and we have experienced that we can weld together lighter designs with good qualities! 

Aksel Fenerci at NTNU  and Etienne Cheynet at the University of Stavanger  are working with wind loads and how they affect for example a suspension bridge. We will use the results from their work to check that Peter's new constructions can withstand the wind!

– The results of the research will be relevant to the entire infrastructure in Norway, and we have also experienced a great deal of international interest," she adds.

Communication is important!

– Research is important, but it is equally important that the researchers are able to explain what they are working on and the results they have achieved. That's why we’ve spent two whole days practicing pitching together with the entrepreneurial school at NTNU (Engage), so the researchers can practise how to disseminate their projects to different audiences, explains Dunham. 

– Many of the PHD-candidates are active participants at international conferences, and have given many presentations or technical lectures before. When speaking to a technical audience they are "deep into the details" speaking to an audience that  understand professional terminology ("research language"). Today they’ve been challenged to explain their projects with a "simple" and plain language, "says Dunham.

Poja Shams Hakimi, a researcher at Chalmers Technical University, says he found the exercise advantageous, and that he has enjoyed being "drilled" at research dissemination. 

– I was quite nervous today, but it was fun collaborating with the other researchers, and fun to present my project to a general audience. I am working on how we can avoid large steel structures shaking in the "weakest " spots, Hakimi says.

During the pitching, the top executives were comfortably seated on a couch while listening to the presentations.

– The young researchers were a little nervous today, since they were pitching to the top executives in NPRA and the principals at NTNU, Chalmers University and the University of Stavanger, but they passed the test with flying colours, says Dunham. She exclaims: 

– I am so proud of them!

Some of the ongoing research in the E39-project