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Home > Job vacancies



Last updated: 8 February 2018

NEW : 8 PhD and Postdoc vacancies for Spring 2018


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 at Ghent University. The offices and laboratories of this group are situated in the south of Ghent (Technologiepark-Zwijnaarde 903, 9052 Zwijnaarde).

Duration ?

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

Job description ?

  • Vacancy 1: PhD vacancy (4 years) on micro-to-macro correlation of fracture processes in composites

    Our previous and ongoing research in collaboration with industry has revealed the need of a better understanding and assessment of fracture parameters of composite laminates, with special attention to establishing a clear link between the experimental values and the microscopic fracture. These parameters are often (i) unknown by the companies, (ii) poorly characterized and suffering from big uncertainties, (iii) restricted to very simple fracture modes and a very simple composite architecture or (iv) typically obtained from literature from the work performed by other authors under unspecified and/or different conditions.

    The objective of this project is to generate a multiscale computational framework that simulates a variety of real-size testing setups in order to assess the strength and fracture toughness of Fibre-Reinforced Polymer (FRP) laminates. For this framework, a region enriched with a detailed description at the level of its constituents (matrix, fibres and interface) is strategically embedded in another coarse-grain region spanning the entire simulated testing setup (for example: three-point-bending test, double-cantilever-beam or compact-tension test, among others). Our research group of Mechanics of Materials and Structures at Ghent University (UGent-MMS) has recently initiated the development of this multiscale approach termed as "embedded" models, where intensive development and use of the Finite Element Method (FEM) are required.

    The proposed framework offers big possibilities and it can become a powerful virtual characterization tool to assess fracture properties: (i) to improve and optimize the performance of the already existing FRP laminates, (ii) to investigate new designs and their feasibility before fabrication and (iii) to analyse complex architectures under load conditions which are not possible to test experimentally due to difficulties associated with measurements in multidirectional laminates. The achievements of this PhD would not only provide better understanding and assistance to the experimental measurements but they would also provide validated and verified input parameters to other numerical methodologies in the field of composite materials already existing in the automotive or aerospace industries. In that sense, the proposed work covers also a very important stage of experimental validation: the developments will be validated with experimental microscopic in-situ observations of the fracture evolution. These observations will be obtained from measurements using different standardized mechanical tests that the framework will simulate.

    Only candidates with a Master degree should apply. The candidate should have a good background in mechanics of materials, preferably in composites, as well as very strong computational and programming skills.

  • Vacancy 2: PhD vacancy (4 years) on Reduced Order Methods for damage modelling in composites

    The aim of this project is to develop robust Reduced Order Methods (ROM) that can be applied to damage modelling in composites at the micro- and meso-scale. In previous and ongoing research, UGent-MMS is developing material models for fibre-reinforced composites under static, impact and fatigue loading. Those models are applied to Representative Volume Elements (RVE) at micro-scale (for unidirectional composites) and at meso-scale (for textile composites). The first step at micro- and meso-scale is homogenization of the elastic properties. This is straightforward at micro-scale, but not at meso-scale. If a nested textile composite is modelled with a fine mesh and periodic boundary conditions, this simple linear elastic step can already take several hours of calculation time.
    When damage models are applied, the calculation times are exponentially increasing, even at micro-scale. The combination of nonlinear visco-plasticity/damage modelling in the polymer matrix and fibre/matrix interface debonding quickly leads to long calculation times.

    The main aim of this PhD position is to investigate to what extent Reduced Order Methods can reduce the calculation times in multi-scale modelling of composites. In a first step, existing ROM will be applied to linear elastic cases and damage modelling. In a next step, dedicated new ROM will be developed.
    The PhD fits in a 4-year research project (funded by SIM Flanders) where the research group UGent-MMS at Ghent University (Belgium) will collaborate with the research groups KUL-PMA and KUL-MTM at KULeuven (Belgium). The Industrial Advisory Board consists of Siemens Industry Software (SISW), Honda R&D, Materialise, LCV and TWE Meulebeke.
    This published PhD position is a joint PhD position between UGent-MMS and KULeuven-PMA, which will require an intensive collaboration and commuting between the two research groups. UGent-MMS will provide the know-how on damage modelling in composites, and KUL-PMA the know-how and background on Reduced Order Methods (ROM). The PhD student will be assisted by two postdoctoral research fellows, respectively at UGent-MMS and KULeuven-PMA.

    Only candidates with a Master degree should apply. The candidate should have a strong background in mathematics and preferably have some knowledge about composites modelling. During the project the applicant has to be flexible to work both at the UGent-MMS site and at the KULeuven-PMA site.

  • Vacancy 3: PhD vacancy (4 years) on composite geometry reconstruction from CT images

    This project is a large collaborative project between Ghent University and several industrial partners about X-ray imaging of materials and the related post-processing of the tomographic data to extract information about geometry, damage, moisture diffusion, etc. in materials.
    For the PhD position at UGent-MMS, the particular interest is to extract the internal geometry of the composite from the X-ray data and build a finite element model of the reconstructed geometry.

    Almost all composite materials for engineering applications are built up from a polymer matrix, reinforced with carbon or glass fibres. Those carbon or glass fibres are embedded in the polymer matrix in the form of weaves, knits, braids, etc. Besides that, the compaction pressure during the composite manufacturing makes that the different layers of the composite are slightly interpenetrating and the fibre reinforcement is deformed. As a result, the final product has a complex micro-structure, with a three-dimensional distribution of the reinforcement architecture. Nowadays, micro-tomography is very popular to inspect the internal geometry of composites, but automatic extraction of the fibre bundle positions is very difficult, because the X-ray contrast between e.g. carbon fibre and epoxy resin is very poor, and also the direction of the fibres is very hard to distinguish. Therefore, the conversion from the X-ray images to a finite element model of the composite geometry is still manual in many cases.

    In this PhD, it is the purpose to automate the complete conversion from CT-images to CAD to Finite Element model, by use of advanced image processing, virtual noise estimation and enhancement of the X-ray contrast. This PhD will be in close collaboration with the colleagues from X-ray imaging (UGCT), image processing (TELIN-IPI), geology and WoodLab, and companies such as Siemens, Agfa, Unilin, Wienerberger,...

    Only candidates with a Master degree should apply. The candidate should have a strong interest in image processing and mathematics and preferably have some knowledge about composites.

  • Vacancy 4: PhD vacancy (4 years) on fatigue testing of composites with advanced instrumentation

    Composites are used more and more as structural components in aerospace industry, automotive sector, wind energy applications,… As a consequence, the loads on those composite components are much higher than for secondary components, and can lead to fatigue damage in the composite part. Moreover, the fatigue behaviour of fibre-reinforced composites is much more complex than that of metals, because of the many different fibre/polymer combinations, the heterogeneous nature of the composite, the anisotropic behaviour of the composite and the multitude of damage mechanisms.

    In this research project, it is the purpose to test the mechanical response of fibre-reinforced composites in fatigue, but at the same time monitor the micromechanical damage mechanisms that occur during fatigue. This includes matrix cracking, delamination and fibre failure. Besides that, the degradation of the stiffness properties and the possible occurrence of creep and visco-elastic effects should be measured. To that purpose, advanced online and offline instrumentation techniques have to be developed.
    UGent-MMS has already a very long tradition in fatigue testing and monitoring, and has extensive equipment for that. Composite specimens can be tested in various loading scenarios (tension-tension, tension-compression, bending, shear,...), together with online Digital Image Correlation (DIC), video-microscopy and post-mortem inspection with optical and SEM microscopy. The group has also acquired a high-end active thermography system which can be used to monitor fatigue damage.

    This PhD project requires a very good experimentalist, who has a thorough background in composites and has experience with fatigue testing and/or advanced instrumentation techniques. The PhD position fits into a larger project, funded by the Dutch Polymer Institute (DPI) in the Netherlands. Along with the experimental PhD track, a postdoctoral track will focus on the modelling of the fatigue damage in composites, based on the micromechanical observations from the experiments in the PhD track. There will be a close collaboration with this postdoctoral researcher and with the DPI industrial partners (Sabic, DSM, Shell, Akzo Nobel, Teijin) that will follow this project.

    Only candidates with a Master degree should apply. The candidate should have a strong interest in experimental testing and instrumentation. A background in composites is recommended.

  • Vacancy 5: Postdoctoral vacancy (3 years) on high-frequency vibration techniques for non-destructive inspection of 3D printed metal parts

    The use of 3D printed metal structures is taking a very fast ramp-up in industry. General Electric has demonstrated the possibility of printing titanium fuel injectors for their LEAP engine, EADS has printed a nacelle hinge bracket for the Airbus A320, Boeing is printing plastic inlet ducts for high-altitude aircrafts, hip implants and other prosthetics are exploiting the design freedom of additive manufacturing (AM),...

    Additive manufacturing of titanium alloys yields great potential for the aerospace industry (and others) as it allows the generation of geometrically complex structures with high specific strength, low density and high corrosion resistance.
    However the inspection of such 3D printed components is almost impossible with traditional Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) techniques because of the typical complex geometries and internal cavities. A very interesting alternative is PCRT (Process Compensated Resonance Testing), a high-frequency vibration technique that tries to detect defects by isolating very small shifts in the resonance spectrum at very high frequencies.

    In this Postdoctoral position, it is the purpose to build a PCRT set-up for inspecting 3D printed metal parts with complex geometry, to implement the data-acquisition and to develop advanced post-processing tools for identification of defects in the frequency domain. The research is in close collaboration with Materialise and Siemens, two leading companies in the development of 3D printing. The project is funded by SIM-Flanders (Strategic Initiative Materials in Flanders).

    Only candidates with a PhD degree or equivalent experience should apply. The candidate should have a strong background in vibration techniques and data analysis in frequency domain.

  • Vacancy 6: Postdoctoral vacancy (2 years) on modelling interfacial debonding of short fibre composites

    Short fibre-reinforced composites are widely used in automotive industry. Their processing methods are very similar to polymer processing technologies, but adding short reinforcing fibres can bring a large increase in stiffness and strength for a rather low cost.
    The mechanical behaviour of short fibre-reinforced composites is typically strongly nonlinear, because the use of thermoplastic polymers leads to sensitivity to creep, visco-elastic and visco-plastic behaviour and strong temperature dependence.

    The prediction of this behaviour is typically done by using Mean Field Homogenization methods, based on Eshelby and Mori-Tanaka inclusion methods. In those methods, interfacial debonding cannot be taken into account, while it is one of the dominant damage mechanisms in short fibre composites. As an engineering approach, all damage at the fibre/matrix interface is lumped into the matrix properties, which are thus reverse engineered from measurements on the short fibre composite. In this way, the link to the physical damage mechanism of fibre/matrix interfacial debonding is lost.

    In UGent-MMS, analytical methods (e.g. variational approach, shear-lag approach, stress transfer methodology) are being developed for matrix cracks and delaminations in composite laminates with continuous fibre reinforcement. Those analytical methods are very fast, yet accurate in terms of stress fields and discontinuities at cracks. In this project, these methods will be applied to interfacial debonding of short fibre composites and implemented into a finite element code, so that the method can be applied to complex industrial geometries. The research group has its own code for Mean Field Homogenization of short fibre composites and a library of advanced material models for the thermoplastic polymer. The candidate will work closely together with two other postdoctoral researchers in the group that are already working in this field of modelling.

    Only candidates with a PhD degree or equivalent experience should apply. The candidate should have a strong background in finite element simulation, programming and composite materials.

  • Vacancy 7: PhD vacancy (4 years) on thermography-based NDT techniques for composite inspection

    The aim of this project is to develop robust NDT (NonDestructive Testing) methods that can detect defects in composite parts that are produced with state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques, ranging from autoclave production in aerospace industry up till high-volume production techniques in automotive sector. There is a very strong need for such NDT methods, because although ultrasound inspection is considered to be the most accurate NDT technique today, it still suffers from many limitations :

    • it is slow, because it is a point-wise measurement (in reflection or transmission) and inspection times of 15 minutes up to a few hours are very common for larger composite parts,
    • the robot that mounts the ultrasound sensor (or phased array) needs to be programmed to obtain an optimized scanning path for every composite part, and for larger parts, this can take a few weeks of programming,
    • hidden defects (e.g. in skin-stringer connections or in internal stiffeners) are also for ultrasound a big challenge,
    • parts with complex geometry and sharp corners are difficult to handle for ultrasound, and are still inspected manually. Also sandwich panels are difficult to inspect due to the large scattering of the waves.

    These considerations led to the conception of this project proposal. The general goal is to develop novel NDT techniques that can detect defects in composite parts with industrial complexity, and this within a limited inspection time so that inspection of composite components in volume production becomes feasible. Corresponding numerical models will be developed to support the development of the NDT techniques and to interpret the NDT data.

    Our research group UGent-MMS is coordinator of this project. Other research partners are KULeuven-PMA and VUB-MeMC in Belgium. The project has an Industrial Advisory Board, consisting of a wide range of companies (Siemens, Honda, Sabca, Engie Labs, Eddy Merckx Cycles, Optomet). The PhD student in UGent-MMS will focus on the thermography-based techniques and develop a robust NDT method that can be applied to composite components with a complex geometry, by combining thermographic methods with calibration by numerical simulations. He/she will also focus on the development and interaction of appropriate hardware, data-acquisition and software to set-up an inspection system that can be transferred to an industrial environment. A high-end lockin thermography system is currently being purchased for this project.

    The PhD student will be assisted by two postdoctoral research fellows (see vacancy below for one of them). The research group has also a wide expertise in NDT methods and mechanical characterization of composites.

    Only candidates with a Master degree should apply. The candidate should have a strong background in nondestructive testing methods of materials, preferably combined with knowledge of composite materials and thermography methods.

  • Vacancy 8: Postdoctoral vacancy (3 years) on thermography-based NDT techniques for composite inspection

    The aim of this project is to develop robust NDT (NonDestructive Testing) methods that can detect defects in composite parts that are produced with state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques, ranging from autoclave production in aerospace industry up till high-volume production techniques in automotive sector. There is a very strong need for such NDT methods, because although ultrasound inspection is considered to be the most accurate NDT technique today, it still suffers from many limitations :

    • it is slow, because it is a point-wise measurement (in reflection or transmission) and inspection times of 15 minutes up to a few hours are very common for larger composite parts,
    • the robot that mounts the ultrasound sensor (or phased array) needs to be programmed to obtain an optimized scanning path for every composite part, and for larger parts, this can take a few weeks of programming,
    • hidden defects (e.g. in skin-stringer connections or in internal stiffeners) are also for ultrasound a big challenge,
    • parts with complex geometry and sharp corners are difficult to handle for ultrasound, and are still inspected manually. Also sandwich panels are difficult to inspect due to the large scattering of the waves.

    These considerations led to the conception of this project proposal. The general goal is to develop novel NDT techniques that can detect defects in composite parts with industrial complexity, and this within a limited inspection time so that inspection of composite components in volume production becomes feasible. Corresponding numerical models will be developed to support the development of the NDT techniques and to interpret the NDT data. Three classes of NDT techniques are investigated: (i) high frequency vibration techniques (Local Defect Resonance) (see PhD vacancy above), (ii) vibro-acoustic methods and (iii) thermal imaging methods.

    Our research group UGent-MMS is coordinator of this project. Other research partners are KULeuven-PMA and VUB-MeMC in Belgium. The project has an Industrial Advisory Board, consisting of a wide range of companies (Siemens, Honda, Sabca, Engie Labs, Eddy Merckx Cycles, Optomet). The postdoctoral researcher in UGent-MMS will focus on the thermography-based techniques and develop a robust NDT method that can be applied to composite components with a complex geometry, by combining thermographic methods with calibration by numerical simulations. He/she will also focus on the development and interaction of appropriate hardware, data-acquisition and software to set-up an inspection system that can be transferred to an industrial environment. A high-end lockin thermography system is currently being purchased for this project. The research group has also a wide expertise in NDT methods and mechanical characterization of composites.

    Only candidates with a PhD degree should apply. The candidate should have a strong background in thermography (proved by PhD thesis or other experience), preferably combined with knowledge of composite materials and finite element simulations.

Contact person ?

The responsible person at Ghent University is Prof. Wim VAN PAEPEGEM. He has 15 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 computational techniques,
  • former experience with advanced computational mechanics is an advantage,
  • 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, 14 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 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, your net income is about 1950 EUR per month. That is the amount of money that is deposited on your bank account every month. 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 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
    • 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 903
    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/ftp/brochure_UGent_MMS.pdf
  • you can contact Prof. Wim VAN PAEPEGEM for any additional information, either by phone or e-mail or a personal appointment.