PhD position ’Robust optimization of ground vibration barriers’

     
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WorkplaceLeuven, Flemish Region, Belgium
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PhD position "Robust optimization of ground vibration barriers"

The present doctoral research project will focus on PDE-constrained optimization for the development of novel designs of ground vibration barriers. Analyzing the performance of such wave barriers requires the solution of three-dimensional linear elastodynamic problems, defined on a semi-infinite spatial domain representing the soil. The structure embedded in the soil is modelled using finite elements (FE) whereas the surrounding soil is modelled using boundary elements (BE) or perfectly matched layers (PML). The doctoral research will focus on 1) developing efficient numerical simulation tools (e.g. relying on multi-grid) for the elastodynamic problem and 2) obtaining robust designs by taking into account uncertainties related to imperfections in the barrier geometry and imperfect knowledge of the subsoil. Both sources of uncertainties will be modelled by random fields.

The PhD project will be co-supervised by Geert Lombaert (main supervisor, Department of Civil Engineering), Stefan Vandewalle (Department of Computer Sciences), and Mattias Schevenels (Department of Architecture). The PhD candidate will be hosted in the Structural Mechanics Section of KU Leuven, which presently counts 4 professors (Geert Degrande, Geert Lombaert, Edwin Reynders, and Stijn François), 3 post-doc researchers, 10 PhD candidates, and 4 international scholars. The PhD candidate is also expected to take an active role in the bimonthly meetings of the multi-disciplinary group of researchers in working group 4 of the Optimization in Engineering Centre (OPTEC). 

The proposed doctoral research is part of a large research project (10 PhD candidates over a period of 6 years) that encompasses the study of PDE-constrained optimization for a variety of engineering applications, including structural design, heat exchanging devices, nuclear fusion devices, structural health monitoring, environmental ground vibration, and turbulent flow and wind energy. In all these applications, PDE-constrained optimization problems emerge that are constrained by a large system of (non)linear equality constraints that originate from the discretization of the PDEs. The challenge in these problems comes from the large cost and complexity of the PDE system, as well as uncertainties that need to be considered for robustness. Departing from a solid mathematical ground, we believe that aggressively exploiting the structure of PDE solutions in complex engineering optimization problems can speed up the solution by several orders of magnitude.

The proposed doctoral research is part of a large research project (10 PhD candidates over a period of 6 years) that encompasses the study of PDE-constrained optimization for a variety of engineering applications, including structural design, heat exchanging devices, nuclear fusion devices, structural health monitoring, environmental ground vibration, and turbulent flow and wind energy. In all these applications, PDE-constrained optimization problems emerge that are constrained by a large system of (non)linear equality constraints that originate from the discretization of the PDEs. The challenge in these problems comes from the large cost and complexity of the PDE system, as well as uncertainties that need to be considered for robustness. Departing from a solid mathematical ground, we believe that aggressively exploiting the structure of PDE solutions in complex engineering optimization problems can speed up the solution by several orders of magnitude.

We are looking for a PhD candidate holding a MSc degree in Civil Engineering (or Mechanical Engineering) with a solid background in structural dynamics that is motivated to complete a PhD within four years, starting 1 October 2019 (or sooner, depending on candidate).

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR [at] kuleuven[.]be.

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