PhD student innovates sustainable timber-steel building material

International student Shelley Karkoodi is working hard to create a new sustainable building material that is a composite of timber and steel. “Australia has very good sources of timber. I came to Griffith to do PhD research on creating a new building material with timber and steel that is more sustainable and robust,” she says.

Her research currently revolves around structural analysis, computer simulation and trying to find design rules for the new material. And recently she’s had the benefit of undergoing a block research internship at Geoinventions to help her gain transferable skills that she can use in her projects.

“It’s an Australian company trying to develop a new product,” she explains. “So we’re doing structural analysis and computer simulations of a composite material that can be used as pavements, which is quite similar to what I am doing in my PhD.”

Shelley says doing an internship during her PhD has helped put her career in perspective. “I enjoyed my internship so much. It gave me confidence in the workplace and networking and certainly motivated me,” she says.

“Doing the internship helped me see my future outside of academia and I could see that someday I could use my knowledge in practice. I was more confident in what I was doing because I could see my future more clearly. It had a very valuable impact on me.”

She recommends that any students thinking about doing an internship as part of their Griffith PhD should take advantage of the opportunity.

“As an international student, I didn’t have any work background in Australia, so my internship helped me to understand the local culture and how to communicate with people in the industry.

“Sometimes it’s going to be challenging but taking an internship is helpful. It makes you ready for the workplace and you can see the bigger picture of what you are doing outside of academia. You can see what’s going on in the real world. I would say go for it.”