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ANANYA RATH

email:ananyarath23@gmail.com

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

I would like to pursue an M.S. and a subsequent Ph. D. in the field of Civil Engineering at your

esteemed university. I have always been interested in solving new, challenging problems, hence my decision to pursue a career in research. My research interest is the study of the mechanics of viscoelastic materials. During my term as an undergraduate student in IIT Madras, I have gained a good understanding of the principles used in this field. I have been interested in taking up teaching as a profession since the start of my curriculum at IIT Madras and hence, my decision to pursue an M.S. and a Ph. D. in this field.

The fields of Mathematics and Science have always interested me and I decided to continue my education in the field of Engineering. A combination of a strong conceptual understanding of the subjects and intellect, I was among the top 1% of the 300,000 students who appeared for the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and was selected to be a part of the Bachelor of Technology (B. Tech.), Civil Engineering programme of IIT Madras. I am currently ranked second in the class of 40 undergraduate students with an overall CGPA of 8.92 and a major CGPA of 9.5. I have carried out several projects as a part of my undergraduate programme that helped me realise my interest in the field of rheology of viscoelastic materials.

To begin with, I developed an interest in the field of theoretical mechanics with the introduction of the course “Mechanics of Materials” in the third semester of the B.Tech Programme. The subject highly interested me. The subject briefly introduced the concept of stress analysis in elastic materials. The “Transportation Engineering-I” introduced the stress analysis of asphalt and concrete pavements. The various theories used in the stress analysis such as the three-layer Burmister theory and the two-layer theory for asphalt pavements and the Westergaard’s theory ( slab on Winkler Foundation) for concrete pavements, helped me develop an understanding of the constitutive relations for asphalt and concrete pavements. This course got me interested in the stress analysis of viscoelastic materials.

I thus, took the “Mechanics of Viscoelastic Materials” course in the sixth semester and achieved an A

grade (9/10). This course helped me develop an understanding of the time-dependent behaviour of viscoelastic materials and the constitutive relations for such materials. I also understood the use of

various mechanical models such as the Maxwell model, the Kelvin-Voigt model and the Burgers’

model to model the behaviour of such materials. The concepts of stress-relaxation and creep in such materials highly interested me and I am interested in a more detailed study of the mechanics of such materials. The emphasis of this course was in introducing a wide variety of constitutive models and to understand stress analysis in more detail, I took the” Elastic and Plastic Stress Analysis” course to understand the principles involved in the non-linear analysis of materials. The course introduced the concept of solving boundary value problems such as inflation and torsion of an annular cylinder using the Neo-Hookean and Blatz-Ko models to conduct a stress analysis. I have also developed an understanding of the failure theories including the Tresca and the Von-Mises criteria for the failure of steel.

During the summer of 2011, I was selected for an internship in Total Bitumen in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. During my stay as an intern in the plant, I understood the process of manufacture of modified asphalt and emulsions. I conducted experiments to study the difference in the rheological behaviour of asphalt due to addition of polymers using the rotational viscometer. Apart from this, I also developed an understanding of the network formation in modified asphalt and the influence of the digestion period on this network formation during its manufacture. In order to show the influence of the digestion period on the rheological behaviour of asphalt, I conducted experiments on samples of modified asphalt manufactured with different digestion periods and found the results to be consistent with the expected results.

I am currently doing a project which involves the study of the aging phenomenon of asphalt under Dr J. Murali Krishnan (Associate Professor, Transportation Division, Department of Civil Engineering). Aging is an internal structural change in a material that occurs due to loading or environmental conditions. Stress relaxation in viscoelastic materials can occur due to both the inherent viscoelastic nature and the effect of aging on the material. To analyse the mechanism of stress relaxation of such materials, I chose the problem of torsion of an aging asphalt cylinder. I have understood aging in asphalt as being of two types- reversible and irreversible. My project is to model the irreversible aging of asphalt. Asphalt is modelled as a Burgers’ fluid model. Using MATLAB, I developed a code to show the change in the behaviour of asphalt due to the influence of aging. Further, during the course of the next semester, I intend to model the transition of short-term aged asphalt to long-term aged asphalt, using the principles that I applied for the torsion of an aging asphalt cylinder. I have planned to study the chemical kinetics of the aging of asphalt and the consequent changes occurring in the molecular structure of asphalt during the winter-break and the next semester. This study could be used to determine the load-carrying capacity of pavements as they undergo a transition from the short-term aged condition to the long-term aged condition.

Apart from academics, I have also been active in sports and have been a part of the Institute Basketball Team that won the gold medal at the Inter-IIT Sports Festival for two years in a row (2008 and 2009). I have also shouldered responsibility in the technical festival of IIT Madras (Shaastra) in 2010. I coordinated and conducted the Smart Materials Workshop for 40 students, with two other classmates during Shaastra. I have also been an active participant in the Civil Engineering Festival held at IIT Madras every year. I helped in making LITRACON (light transmitting concrete block) by use of optical fibres in concrete. In spite of the intense academic curriculum, I have been able to coordinate between my academics and extra-curricular activities. I was part of the team that won the third prize at the national level in the Institute for Steel Development and Growth (INSDAG) Steel Structural Design Competition for Civil Engineers held in Kolkata in August 2011. I was also part of the team that conceptualised a super-corridor between Kakinada and Visakhapatnam. This super- corridor was a three-tier system consisting of a system of road, railways and pipelines between the two cities. The geometric design of the road was done using MX ROADS and the design was submitted at the Bentley International Design Competition for Students in the year 2011.

Texas A&M, with its unique blend of eminent faculty, resources and a reputation for highly innovative work is the kind of place that inspires me. I am particularly interested in the work carried out by the department in the area of asphalt technology and pavement design. I sincerely believe that my competence and dedication will help me achieve great heights. I solicit an opportunity to learn and contribute to my area of interest, by means of a fellowship in your esteemed university.