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PhD student: Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) of material defects in aircraft components

 KU Leuven  Leuven
In the research group Materials Performance and Nondestructive Testing of the Department of Materials Engineering we offer a 3-years research and training position in the field of non-destructive testing (NDT) and structural health monitoring (SHM) of aircraft components, potentially leading to a PhD degree. In addition, the applicant will have the option to follow parts of the training course on Aircraft Maintenance according to the EASA rules, part 66 at Brussels Airlines in Zaventem (Belgium). All research and training activities are part of the EU-funded International Trainings Network (ITN) “Training Network in Non-Destructive Testing and Structural Health Monitoring of Aircraft structures (NDTonAIR).

In 2014, KU Leuven has proposed and validated a new structural health monitoring (SHM) technique in which the propagation of crack due to fatigue cycling in a metal plate was monitored by exploiting the modulation of ultrasonic waves due to loading-induced opening and closing of the crack. In the proposed PhD work, the approach would be further extended to (i) realistic aircraft components including composites by (ii) exploiting the possibility to use multiple sending and detecting, (iii) making use of piezo-strip-arrays to perform ultrasonic mode selection, (iv) correlate the results to the technique of electrical crack propagation gauges based on percolation sensors. To validate that approach, dynamic loading conditions (static and fatigue) by state-of-the-art material testing equipment (Instron) in all temperature ranges required will be applied and the evaluation of material damage is investigated by fractography (scanning electron microscope) and microfocus X-ray computer tomography. 
As the research topic is situated in the field of ultrasonics and related sensing applications, applicants are required to have an excellent proven background in related natural or engineering sciences, including profound knowledge on signal processing as well as on the respective hard- and software.
The work will be performed in the research group Materials Performance and Non-destructive Testing at the Department of Materials Engineering at KU Leuven, as well in the Laboratory for Soft Matter and Biophysics of the Department Physics and Astronomy including short-term research and training stays at international project partners. As a part of an International Training Network (ITN) of the EU, candidates must prove to fulfil the respective eligibility criteria for this position: (i) not residing in Belgium for at least 24 months in the last 3 years, and (ii) having not more than 4 years of research experience (working as researcher after obtaining your master’s degree).

Master degree in one of the following fields (or similar): Materials Science, Materials Engineering, Mechanical engineering, Physics, Natural Sciences, … .
A strong interest for multidisciplinary research is required.
Communication skills: ability to work both independently and in a team.
Appropriate skills in English speaking and writing are mandatory.

The project offers funding for a 3-year program towards a PhD at the KU Leuven within the Department of Materials Engineering.
KU Leuven offers an exciting multidisciplinary research environment, a broad gamut of training courses for Ph.D. students, competitive salaries or scholarships and full social and medical insurance.
How to apply:
You can apply for this job no later than December 01, 2016 via the online application tool.
Send application to
For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Martine Wevers, tel.: +32 16 32 13 03 , mail: or Prof. dr. Christ Glorieux, tel.: +32 16 32 72 01 , mail:
While applying for the job please refer to jobvector and use the following reference number: BAP-2016-489

About KU Leuven

KU Leuven is an ambitious, international and research-oriented university. Internally, the university tries to maintain a balance between the power of the big ship and the flotilla of small, mobile, independent vessels of which it is composed. KU Leuven is home to a lot of creative, young and academic talent. As a leading university in Europe, it is looking for staff who can think outside the box.

More about KU Leuven

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