PhD Position in Situation Awareness for Harbour Operations and Auto-docking in Maritime Transport

Ålesund, Norway
25 Sep 2019
End of advertisement period
30 Oct 2019
Contract Type
Full Time

About the position

We have a vacancy for a PhD-candidate at the Department of Ocean Operations and Civil Engineering.

The digital transformation of marine transportation is progressing further. The promise of machine learning is to increase safety, reduce costs and conserve the environment. One very active research field within this topic is autonomous shipping and situation awareness, specifically the process of safe harbour operations and docking. The term situation awareness in autonomous harbour operations covers a wide spectrum of applications:

Full autonomy would refer to a system, that without any human interaction assess the environmental situation, devises a harbour operation and docking manoeuvre and physically controls the ship motion to the docking station.

A lower degree of autonomy would be a decision support system. Such a system would provide a comprehensive analysis of the current environmental conditions and may recommend a possible harbour and docking manoeuvre, but would not steer the ship.

The difference between these two variants is the form in which the information is represented. A fully digital system can process data differently than a human. Crucial for the fidelity of a docking system is the quality of the input data. The environmental conditions in a harbour operations scenario are comprised of the harbour topology/bathymetry, traffic and weather data, including wind, waves, currents and tide-level. This information has to be location specific and real time. Furthermore, an environmental forecasting model is needed, that can predict the local conditions within a short term time window. As with every extrapolation method, the quality of the forecasting depends greatly on the input data.

The PhD research will be carried out in an interdisciplinary environment. The institute currently have several ongoing PhD projects working on related aspect of digital transformation in the maritime industry, such as developments within autonomy, remote ship operations, situational awareness and management challenges due to digitalization. In line with the strategy of the institute, the candidate will be expected to make use of the lab concept and field data in the project. 

The position reports to Head of department.

Main duties and responsibilities

The research objectives are the need for a decision support system, and the challenges that come with it motivated the following research project: “The development of a data driven scenario forecasting system”. Towards this objective the following items have to be realized:

  • Concept development of a sensor system and forecasting model.
  • Assessment of existing instrumentation equipment and extension with additional sensor.
  • Development of a signal processing system for the complete range from individual sensors over time series analysis, sensor fusion, regression model to classification and visualization.

The primary focus of this research project is the establishment of a functional system. To gain practical knowledge and assess the quality of the forecasting system, physically measured and not simulated data must be used.

Qualification requirements

PhD candidate:

The PhD-position's main objective is to qualify for work in research positions. The qualification requirement is completion of a master’s degree or second degree (equivalent to 120 credits) with a strong academic background in a related technical field (multidisciplinary)  or equivalent education with a grade of B or better in terms of NTNU’s grading scale. Applicants with no letter grades from previous studies must have an equally good academic foundation. Applicants who are unable to meet these criteria may be considered only if they can document that they are particularly suitable candidates for education leading to a PhD degree.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and national guidelines for appointment as PhD, postdoctor and research assistant

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA.

The current PhD project opens up for multidisciplinary backgrounds, as relevant to marine technology, mechanical engineering, cybernetics, electronics/sensor/instrumentation technologies or a nautical science competence. Regardless of background it is the technology related questions raised in this call that is the focus of the PhD work.

Other qualifications

  • Good written and oral English language skills (must be documented)

Personal characteristics

  • Good communication skills
  • Ability to work independently as well as in team
  • Potential for research at an international level
  • Keen interest in the wider context of own research, and an ability to engage in cross-disclipinary teams

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability, as well as motivation, in terms of the qualification requirements specified in the advertisement

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidate:

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 449 400 before tax per year. From the salary, 2 % is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is either 3 years without required duties, or 4 years with 25% required duties. Appointment to a PhD position requires admission to the PhD programme in Engineering ( ).

As a PhD candidate, you undertake to participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period. A condition of appointment is that you are in fact qualified for admission to the PhD programme within three months.

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criterias in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

General information

A good work environment is characterized by diversity. We encourage qualified candidates to apply, regardless of their gender, functional capacity or cultural background. Under the Freedom of Information Act (offentleglova), information about the applicant may be made public even if the applicant has requested not to have their name entered on the list of applicants.

Questions about the position can be directed to associate professor Guoyuan Li, e-mail

About the application:

Publications and other academic works that the applicant would like to be considered in the evaluation must accompany the application. Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify the individual applicant's contribution to joint works, the applicant must include a brief description of his or her contribution.

Please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates. Applicants invited for interview must include certified copies of transcripts and reference letters.

Please refer to the application number XXX when applying.

Application deadline: 30.10.19

NTNU - knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

Department of Ocean Operations and Civil Engineering

We aim to be a hub of international knowledge and innovation in maritime operations. This involves education and research on the design of ships and marine equipment as well as on the operation of vessels. Maritime operations integrate technology, human factors and business. The interfaces between these areas often spark inspiration for innovation and new solutions. The Department of Ocean Operations and Civil Engineering is one of eight departments in the Faculty of Engineering.

Deadline 30th October 2019
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Ålesund
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service Dep.of Oceans Operations and Civil Engineering