PhD Candidate

WorkplaceFlemish Region, Ghent, Belgium


PhD candidate

Job description

UGent offers two PhD positions in the MAXWind project, which is a collaboration of three Belgian universities (UGent, VUB and ULiege) and Sirris, and is funded by the Belgian Federal Government. MAXWind is short for "MAintenance, Inspection and EXploitation Optimization of Offshore Wind Farms subjected to Corrosion-Fatigue".

Fatigue and corrosion are critical failure causes of offshore wind support structures. The low accessibility and high inspection/repair costs of large structures in corrosive environments is motivating remote monitoring and optimized inspection and maintenance plans, based on continuous assessment of the structure reliability. Due to the time-variant uncertainties associated with the applied loads, stress prediction and modelling of the deterioration mechanisms, a more advanced lifecycle reliability assessment is necessary to assess the structural safety and to support decision making. The project aims to reduce the uncertainties by combining inspection data (about cracks and corrosion), load measurements and estimates (stresses, wind, wave) and improved material property models. This information can be employed to regularly update the failure probabilities of welded joints and thus structural reliability. This also necessitates to have reliable models that can simulate the real behavior of the structure to predict qualitatively and quantitatively the degradations due to corrosion and fatigue. These numerical models will be calibrated with available and new field data (unique long-term load measurements on offshore wind turbines). The global goal is to get a much better estimation of the remaining life of in-service wind turbines and to derive optimized inspection and maintenance plans for a group of similar structures.

The project tasks of UGent focus on numerical simulation of fatigue and corrosion-fatigue based on (virtual) monitoring data (task VUB). The outcome of these simulations will serve as input to a probabilistic structural reliability model (task ULiege) and allow improved prediction of remaining useful lifetime of offshore wind foundations.

A first PhD researcher will work on the development of advanced corrosion and corrosion-fatigue models. The objective is to integrate a state-of-the-art probabilistic corrosion model (based on an empirical study of corrosion pit growth) with an advanced fracture mechanics based damage evolution model to develop an innovative methodology for assessing the fatigue performance of the OWT support structures associated with corrosion pits. The integrated model will cover all stages of pit initiation, pit growth, the transition from a pit to a crack, and subsequent growth of the crack.

A second PhD researcher will work on fatigue simulations and development of so-called "smart S-N curves". The goal is to develop a so-called "Smart S-N curve" to identify a proper fatigue life distribution (or probability of failure) considering inspection (corrosion, crack size) and measurement data (loads). The first level of the smart S-N concept is to include the influence of the corroded surface on the number of cycles to failure for a certain stress range. The second level of the "Smart S-N" concept is the introduction of the influence of a crack on remaining lifetime.

There will be a close collaboration between these PhD candidates and 2 PhD candidates working at VUB and 2 PhD candidates working at ULiege.

The earliest PhD-project starting date is 1/3/2020. We offer an 100% research position for maximum 48 months (4 years). After a probation period of 12 months, a fixed-term contract will be offered on condition of positive evaluation. The salary and appointment terms are consistent with the current rules for PhD degree students. The net salary for a starting PhD candidate (unmarried) is about 2000,-. The scholarships for the PhD degree are subject to academic approval. The successful candidate will be enrolled in the doctoral program of Ghent University (?" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">

Profile of the candidate

1. You hold a Master of Science degree in Engineering, preferably (Electro)Mechanical or Civil Engineering.

2. You have a strong motivation for conducting scientific research at a high level.

3. You possess good analytical and technical skills.

4. You are interested in both experimental and numerical activities.

5. You are interested in mechanical behaviour and structural integrity of components, and in offshore wind energy.

6. Experience with finite element analysis and programming in python or equivalent are advantages.

7. You take responsibility for the development of your project in a well-structured, thorough way, and you’re able to solve problems independently. You display creativity in solving problems, generating ideas or finding new ways of working.

8. You have an open personality and willing to contribute to the team and participate in didactic projects.

9. You have excellent communication skills in English, both orally and written. 10. You are willing to spend some short research stays at the other Belgian universities involved in the project.

How to apply

For further information on the project and/or application, please contact Prof. Wim De Waele (wim.dewaele [at] ugent[.]be).

To apply, please send the following minimum information (in pdf format) to the former email address.
  • Personal information (Name, gender, date of birth, nationality, marital status, phone number, e-mail)
  • Language (native language, english proficiency)
  • Higher education (bachelor and master degree, additional studies, obtained at which university or institution, diplomas and transcripts of records, dissertation topic)
  • Work and research experience (dates, employer, function)
  • List of publications (if any)
  • PhD motivation (1/2 page) Your application will be taken into consideration on condition that all required information has been submitted completely and properly.


In your application, please refer to and reference JobID 2888.

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