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Home > Job vacancies



Last updated: 18 June 2020

NEW : 3 PhD and postdoc vacancies for Summer 2020


Clearly mention in all your communication the number of the vacancy you are applying for !


Where ?

All vacancies are available in the "Mechanics of Materials and Structures" research group (UGent-MMS) at Ghent University.
Ghent University is a large university in Belgium, counting about 45,000 students. Ghent University consistently ranks among the best 100 universities in the world. In 2019, it was ranked, globally, 66th by the Academic Ranking of World Universities or Shanghai ranking (http://www.shanghairanking.com/World-University-Rankings/Ghent-University.html). More information about the UGent rankings can be found here.

The research group UGent-MMS counts 3 professors and about 30 researchers. More information can be found in the slideshow of the research group. The offices and laboratories of this group are situated in the south of Ghent (Technologiepark-Zwijnaarde 46, 9052 Zwijnaarde).

Duration ?

All vacancies are full-time job positions. For the duration, see below.

Job description ?



  • Vacancy 1: PhD vacancy (3 years) on mechanical testing of recyclable vitrimer composites

    Vitrimers are a groundbreaking development in polymer chemistry. This new class of polymers is neither thermoset, nor thermoplastic, but inherits properties from both polymer classes. Vitrimers were "invented" by Prof. Leibler in Paris in 2011 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitrimers).
    Many applications can be imagined, but the application of vitrimers as the polymer matrix in fibre-reinforced composites, is particularly attractive, because the recycling of fibre-reinforced composites could be drastically improved.

    UGent-MMS is partner in the approved Marie-Curie Innovative Training Networks (ITN) "VITRIMAT - Training in VITRImers: high performance MAterials and Trainees for cutting-edge industrial applications".
    In this project, vitrimers will be applied to manufacture and characterize vitrimer composites. UGent-MMS has a PhD vacancy for 3 years on this large research project with a strong industrial consortium. The purpose is to manufacture and characterize the thermomechanical behaviour of vitrimer composites, by combining a diverse set of experimental testing methods. Those tests should be combined with dedicated instrumentation methods to provide valuable insights into the processing characteristics and thermomechanical behaviour of thermoplastic composites.
    The PhD study is a purely experimental PhD, focussed on manufacturing of small-scale vitrimer composites and mechanical characterization of those composites. The PhD researcher will interact very frequently with the PhD researchers in vitrimer chemistry at the other partners in this project, so it is important to have good notions of polymer chemistry as well.

    Only candidates with a Master degree in Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science, Civil Engineering, (Applied) Physics or similar should apply. You are interested to perform experimental research and to interact and collaborate with industry.


  • Vacancy 2: PhD/postdoc vacancy (4 years) on development of topology optimization algorithms for functionally graded materials

    Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing or WAAM techniques are attracting interest from the manufacturing industry because of their potential to produce large metal components with low cost and short production lead time. This process exists alongside other high deposition rate metal AM technologies such as powder and wire based DED. While these use either laser or an electron beam as energy source to melt a metal powder or wire, WAAM technologies melt metal wire using an electric arc.

    The mechanical properties of additively manufactured materials, such as titanium alloy, are comparable to cast or wrought material. It has also been found that twin-wire WAAM has the capability to produce intermetallic alloys and functionally graded materials.
    It is exactly that last feature of functional grading that can be used to tune the mechanical, thermal and thermomechanical properties of large structures, by depositing differently graded material compositions in different areas. Based on this technological asset, the European H2020 project Grade2XL has been approved (https://www.m2i.nl/news/granted-horizon-2020-proposal-on-additive-manufacturing/). The project is coordinated by M2i in the Netherlands, and Ghent University is one of the partners.

    The current 4-year vacancy will focus on the development of new topology optimization algorithms and software, in order to optimize the geometrical shape and the spatial distribution of the functional properties across the whole part geometry. Case studies will be provided by the industrial partners, for example tuning the thermal expansion coefficients of very large 3D printed moulds (in order to minimize the warping and geometric tolerances of the produced parts in those moulds).
    It is important to mention that the focus of this vacancy is NOT on the additive manufacturing process itself, nor on the manufacturing simulation or the design simulation of WAAM produced parts. The research question is how the topology of large components can be optimized for certain mechanical properties, if the manufacturing allows for functionally graded material properties across the volume of the part. This optimization should also take into account the physical feasibility to generate certain material phases, dependent on the phase diagrams (e.g. through ThermoCalc simulations) and the alloys that can be manufactured with twin-wire WAAM. From that point on, the optimization strategy can be disconnected from the WAAM manufacturing process itself and becomes a numerical research problem. This means that the classical topology optimization has to be extended with additional field variables that take the spatial variation of material properties into account. Therefore, the profile of the candidate should be much more focussed on computational mechanics and experience with (topology) optimization methods, rather than expertise in AM manufacturing or experimental characterization of AM materials.
    The PhD/postdoc study at Ghent University is purely numerical, while the experimental work will be done at the other academic and industrial partners.

    Only candidates with a Master/PhD degree in Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science, Civil Engineering, (Applied) Physics or similar should apply. You have a strong background in computational mechanics, you are interested to perform numerical research and to interact and collaborate with industry.


  • Vacancy 3: PhD/postdoc vacancy (4 years) on Ultrasonic assessment of the structural health of Lined Pipelines transporting heavy acids

    Transportation of heavy acidic fluids is often done with specifically designed lined pipelines. The pipelines typically have an outer steel wall (thickness ~15 mm) and an inner ceramic coating (thickness ~1 mm). The proper functioning of such lined pipelines is almost exclusively determined by the inner ceramic coating. In case there would be a leak in the ceramic coating, the acidic fluid will corrode through the outer steel wall in a matter of hours, leading to a full shutdown of the industrial plant.
    Upon installation of the lined pipelines, the ceramic coating could already have a varying quality: e.g. thickness variations, porosity clusters, varying stiffness,... Further, during the operational lifetime of the pipeline, the acidic fluid will gradually erode the ceramic coating (~0.05 mm/year). Hence, it is crucial to properly assess the actual state of the inner ceramic coating at certain time intervals. Current inspection procedures involve a full team of operators which need to go inside the pipeline (after thorough flushing with water) for assessing the quality of the ceramic coating.

    This project focusses on the development of a novel, efficient and in-situ non-destructive test method to monitor the structural integrity of lined pipelines from the outside during their operational lifetime. The ultrasonic technique of interest is the classical contact pulse-echo ultrasound (pipelines are above the ground and accessible). From the ultrasonic response, several signal parameters will be extracted and analyzed in order to estimate the quality of the ceramic coating. In order to cope with the harsh industrial circumstances, this involves the development and implementation of (i) advanced excitation signals (e.g. coded waveforms), (ii) novel signal analysis tools in time/frequency domain and (iii) inversion procedures. In a second stage, the developed method will be implemented in a phased array system with a rolling transducer. Such a system will allow to assess large parts of the lined pipeline in a time-efficient manner.

    This project requires a researcher with a strong interest in instrumental hardware (NI-PXIe platform will be employed), a good background in LabVIEW, as well as a high affinity with advanced signal processing techniques. This project is funded by industry and the final developed device will be tested on-site at the facilities of the industrial partner.

    Only candidates with a Master/PhD degree in Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Civil Engineering, (Applied) Physics or similar should apply. You are interested in instrumental physics and signal processing. You have good knowledge of LabVIEW, and preferably also of MATLAB. You are interested to interact with industry and to disseminate your results and findings.


    Contact person ?

    The responsible person at Ghent University is Prof. Wim VAN PAEPEGEM. He has 20 years of experience in mechanics of composites and finite element simulations. More information on the achievements of the research group can be found on http://www.composites.ugent.be/.

    Who do we look for ?

    • you are interested in research and have obtained a Master and/or PhD degree,
    • you are interested to interact and collaborate closely with the industrial partners during the research period,
    • you have an education in Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Computational Mechanics, or similar,
    • you are familiar with mechanics of materials and experimental or computational techniques (depending on the specific vacancy requirement mentioned above),
    • mastering the Dutch language is not a prerequisite, but a good knowledge of English writing and speaking is absolutely required.

    What do we offer ?

    • you will be working in a dynamic environment. Our group has expanded quite fast the last few years and currently, 16 postdoc's and 15 PhD students are working in our group. Besides, 18 PhD students have successfully obtained their PhD degree in the last five years,
    • we have extensive experimental and numerical facilities. You will have access to several Linux workstations and a high performance computing cluster to run finite element simulations on 2000+ cores,
    • we have good contacts with the regional composite and additive manufacturing industry and regional universities, so you will come into contact with industrial applications of composites and related research in other universities,
    • you will get the chance to attend international conferences (e.g. ECCM, ICCM,...) and to present papers on these conferences. For those who are interested, an international exchange with another university is possible. As publications are increasingly important (also for your career afterwards), you are encouraged to publish your results not only on international conferences, but also in peer-reviewed international journals,
    • you will have a personal laptop and a private workspace. All PhD students and staff have their office in the same wing of the building. The laboratories are separate in another wing of the same building,
    • if you are just graduated (junior PhD student), your net income is about 1950 EUR per month. That is the amount of money that is deposited on your bank account every month (after taxes). If you have a dependent wife/husband and/or children, the salary is raised. Also seniority can be taken into account if you can show former relevant experience. The salary for postdoctoral researchers starts at 2450 EUR net income per month (after taxes).
    • the cost for the PhD study itself is very limited. Our education system is very different from for example the system in the United Kingdom. When you start your PhD study, you pay a once-only tuition fee of ca. 1000 EUR, and the rest of your study is free of charge,
    • the university offers compensations for public transport (train) and bicycle. The work location can be reached easily by public transport (train and tram/bus),
    • a hospitalization insurance policy can be concluded,
    • there are a lot of sport accommodations and other benefits (reductions on computer purchase, internet connection, fitness,...) for university personnel,
    • there are specific organizations for the international student community in Gent. There are ISAG (International Students Association Ghent) and ESN (European Students Network). They are quite active in organizing all sorts of events (Student Unions and Societies for international students).
      Recently, a "China platform" and "India platform" have been founded for the benefit of Chinese and Indian students at Ghent University (see China platform and India Platform).

    How to apply ?

    • you write a detailed Curriculum Vitae in Dutch or English, containing:
      • your personal details (name, address, date of birth, nationality,...)
      • your education, subject of master thesis and degrees
      • transcripts of records of Bachelor and Master degree
      • your work experience (previous jobs)
      • additional skills (finite element software, programming languages, communication skills, ...)
      • mastered languages (Dutch, English, French)
      • references (previous projects in the domain, published papers,...)

    • you send the C.V. by post or e-mail to the following person:
      Prof. Wim VAN PAEPEGEM
      Ghent University
      Mechanics of Materials and Structures
      Technologiepark-Zwijnaarde 46
      9052 Zwijnaarde
      Belgium
      Tel.: +32-(0)9-331.04.32
      Fax: +32-(0)9-264.58.33
      E-mail: Wim.VanPaepegem@UGent.be

    Additional information ?

    • you can freely download our research brochure. This PDF-document contains a lot of pictures and impressions of our research activities. You can find it on the webpage http://www.composites.ugent.be/slideshow/Slideshow.pdf
    • you can contact Prof. Wim VAN PAEPEGEM for any additional information, either by phone or e-mail or a personal appointment.