PhD Position in Physics-Based and Data-Enriched Modelling and Analysis of Wind Turbine Gearboxes

Catholic University of Leuven Mechanical Engineering Department

The PhD is hosted by the KU Leuven Noise and Vibration Research Group, which currently counts 90 researchers and is headed by Prof. Wim Desmet and is part of the Mechanical Engineering Department, a vibrant environment of more than 300 researchers. The research group has a long track record of combining excellent fundamental academic research with industrial relevant applications, leading to dissemination in both high ranked academic journals as well as on industrial forums. More information on the research group can be found on the website.


The objective of this PhD trajectory is to develop, validate and exploit advanced numerical tools for the analysis of wind turbine gearboxes that are tailored towards the needs and requirements of Industry 4.0 and beyond. Applications of these numerical tools in the new industrial paradigm include virtual prototyping of novel gearbox and drivetrain concepts, virtual sensing of difficult to measure gearbox characteristics, parameter estimation of difficult to model/measure parameters, and parameter sensitivity analysis in view of robust gearbox design and testing. Depending on the application, the accuracy and/or computational efficiency of these tools needs to be higher than what is currently available in the state-of-the-art. As a PhD researcher, you will use novel insights in the fields of physics-based modelling (Finite Element Modelling, Flexible Multibody Dynamics, Computational Contact Mechanics, Multi-physical Simulation, …), data-based and/or data-enriched modelling, as well as model reduction (size and/or complexity reduction), to develop and validate accurate and efficient gearbox analysis tools, starting from a library of computational tools available at the hosting research group. Throughout the entire PhD trajectory, a close link with industry will be maintained in order to validate and exploit the newly developed tools and applications in an industrial context.


If you recognize yourself in the story below, then you have the profile that fits the project and the research group.
•I have a master in mechanical engineering.
•I’m proficient in written and spoken English.
•During my courses, master thesis or prior professional activities, I have gathered some basic experience with mechanical modelling and numerical simulation, and/or I have a profound interest in these topics. 
•As a PhD researcher of the KU Leuven Noise and Vibration Research Group I perform research in a structured and scientifically sound manner. I read technical papers, understand the nuances between different theories and implement and improve methodologies myself. 
•I set up a plan of approach for the upcoming 1 to 3 months to work towards my research goals. I work independently to follow my plan and achieve the goals. I indicate timely when deviations of the plan are required, if goals cannot be met or if I want to discuss intermediate results or issues.
•In frequent reporting, varying between weekly to monthly, I show the results that I have obtained and I give a well-founded interpretation of those results. I iterate on my work and my approach based on the feedback of my supervisors which steer the direction of my research.
•I value being part of a large research group which is well connected to the machine and transportation industry and to learn how academic research can be linked to innovation roadmaps of companies.
•During my PhD I want to grow towards following up the project that I am involved in and representing the research group on project meetings or conferences. I see those events as an occasion to learn the larger context of my research and the research project.


•A remuneration package competitive with industry standards in Belgium, a country with a high quality of life and excellent health care system.
•A chance to pursue a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, typically a 4 year trajectory, in a stimulating and ambitious research environment.  
•Ample opportunity to develop yourself in both a scientific or an industrial direction, besides opportunities provided by the research group, further doctoral training for PhD candidates is provided in the framework of the Leuven Arenberg Doctoral School (, known for its strong focus on both future scientists and scientifically trained professionals who will valorise their doctoral expertise and competences in a non-academic context. More information on the training opportunities can be found on the following link: 
•A stay in a vibrant environment in the hearth of Europe. The university is located in Leuven, a small town of approximately 100000 inhabitants, located close to Brussels (25km), and 20 minutes by train from Brussels International Airport. This strategic positioning and the strong presence of the university, international research centers, and industry, lead to a safe town with high quality of live, welcome to non-Dutch speaking people and with ample opportunities for social and sport activities. The mixture of cultures and research fields are some of the ingredients making the university of Leuven the most innovative university in Europe More practical information can be found on the website of the university:


To apply for this position, please follow the application tool and enclose:

1.full CV – mandatory

2.motivation letter – mandatory

3.full list of credits and grades of both BSc and MSc degrees (as well as their transcription to English if possible) – mandatory

4.proof of English proficiency (TOEFL, IELTS, …) - if available

5.two reference letters - if available English version of MSc or PhD thesis, or of a recent publication or assignment - if available.

For more information please contact Mr. Bart Blockmans, tel.: +32 16 37 28 09, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than August 31, 2021 via the
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
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: August 31, 2021
  • Tags: Ingenieurswetenschappen