PhD Position within Power System Protection and Control in Digital Substations

Gløshaugen, Norway
03 Dec 2019
End of advertisement period
05 Jan 2020
Contract Type
Full Time

About the position

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) has a vacancy for a 100% position as a PhD research fellow affiliated with the Department of Information Security and Communication Technology (IIK) at Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering (IE) in the field of inter-substation communication for power systems protection and control.

The PhD position is at the Department of Information Security and Communication Technology (IIK), NTNU. This is a researcher training position aimed at providing academic development in the form of a doctoral degree in the PhD Programme in Information Security and Communication Technology. This position is part of a new research project, Power system protection and control in digital substations (ProDig), a Norwegian Research Council KPN-project within the ENERGIX program with 9 industry/utility partners. ProDig is a multi-disciplinary, multi-vendor, PhD-incentive and international project. The PhD candidate will work closely with the Networking Research Group at IIK.

The position’s working place is at NTNU’s campus in Trondheim and reports to the Head of Department

Main duties and responsibilities

Substations are critical nodes in the power system and consist of lines, transformers, generators, compensation equipment, switchgear and instrument transformers. In a substation, the power system is controlled and protected. The term digital substation describes a technology where classical copper wiring between instrument transformers, switchgear, protective relays and control equipment is replaced by a process bus Ethernet cable or potentially by wireless links. The main advantages are smaller footprint (reduced wiring, and buildings), easier expansions (plug&play), simpler documentation and engineering and possible faster future upgrade. The challenges are related to the fact that this is new, unproven technology with new competence needs. Test pilots of digital substations are now being installed world-wide.

Modern intelligent electrical devices (IED) like protective relays can now communicate on process and station buses in a digital substation environment. Information from all instrument transformers and protective relays is available to all connected devices. This opens up new possibilities in central settings and fault record utilization for optimal performance, selectivity, fault location and adaptations. However, it also poses a threat to security and reliability, with new devices exposed to substation stress. What is sure is that this digital shift will require new knowledge and competence in both communication and power system behaviour.

In this position inter-substation communication will be investigated based on existing infrastructure technology and standards. The goal is to explore the 5th generation of mobile networks (5G) as a communication technology, taking into account the requirements of state-of-the-art protocols such as IEC 61850. Aligned with 5G, Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communications (URLLC) should be assessed as a possible solution for meeting the requirements of power system protection, which differ from other smartgrid technologies. 5G’s support of different networking slices and multi Radio Access Technologies (multi-RATs) shall also be studied as enablers of a better usage of infrastructures’ resources while simultaneously complementing the existing networking solutions. Topics of interest include but are not limited to:

  • Latency and time synchronization, robustness and reliability, scalability and cost efficiency
  • Service level agreement (SLA) monitoring and assurance
  • Mitigation of communication loss
  • Authentication and integrity (cyber security)
  • State-of-the-art protocols (e.g. IEC 61850, IEEE1588)

Qualification requirements

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 Communication and Information Technology or equivalent education with a grade of B or better in terms of NTNU’s grading scale. It is an advantage if the applicant has experience, or academic background, in electrical power engineering or cybernetics. 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.

Candidates completing the MSc-degree in spring 2020 are encouraged to apply. The position is also open for an integrated PhD for NTNU students starting the final year of their master degree in autumn 2020; see for information about the integrated PhD.

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.

Other qualifications:

  • The applicant should have a strong background in computer networking and additional experience or academic background in electric power engineering or cybernetics will be regarded as a plus
  • The applicant’s Master thesis must be research-oriented
  • Non-Norwegian-speaking applicants must provide evidence of good English language skills. The following tests can be used as such documentation: TOEFL, IELTS or Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) or Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE). Minimum scores are:
    • TOEFL: 600 (paper-based test), 92 (Internet-based test)
    • IELTS: 6.5, with no section lower than 5.5 (only Academic IELTS test accepted)
    • CAE/CPE: grade B

Personal characteristics

The applicant should:

  • enjoy working in a team-based environment but also be able to conduct independent activities and thinking
  • have a problem-solving attitude
  • have an inquisitive nature and enjoy cross-disciplinary challenges.

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

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 479 600 per year. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 3 years, or 4 years with required duties.

Appointment to a PhD position requires admission to the PhD programme in Information Security and Communication Technology. 

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.

The Department of Information Security and Communication Technology will work closely with key players in the Norwegian electricity supply sector, who manage critical infrastructure. A comprehensive risk assessment of the candidates' research interests and potential activities related to national threat assessments will therefore also form basis for the final selection of candidates.

In the final assessment of the candidates, strategic considerations at the Department of Information Security and Communication Technology will also be taken into account.

Questions about the position can be directed to David Palma, phone number +47 73590776, e-mail:

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.

About the application:

Please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates.

The application must contain information of educational background and prior training, exams, and work experience. In addition, the applicant must submit a research statement (max. 2 pages), detailing research interests and initial plans with regard to the above project description. The statement should also describe why the applicant is suited for the position, and how the project relates to previous education, research and competence. Publications and other work that the applicant wishes to be taken into account must be enclosed (including a brief description of the contribution if not obvious).

The application must contain:

  • Curriculum vitae (CV) with information about the candidate’s prior training, exams, and work experience.
  • A cover letter (1 page) explaining the candidate’s motivation for doing a PhD and how the candidate’s skills and experience relate to the research focus of the position.
  • Research statement (max. 2 pages) detailing the candidate’s research interests, the candidate’s view on the research challenges within the area of the PhD position and initial research directions given the description of the position.
  • Names and contact information of at least 2 reference persons.
  • A copy of the master thesis (in PDF), or, for those who are near to completion of their MSc, an extended abstract combined with a statement of how and when the applicant plans to complete the thesis.
  • Certified copies of transcripts and diplomas for the whole bachelor and master’s degree. An English translation of all education documents is required unless the documents are in Norwegian.
  • Applicants from universities outside Norway are kindly requested to send a diploma supplement or a similar document that describes in detail the study and grading system and the rights for further studies associated with the obtained degree.

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

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.

Application deadline: 05.01.2020

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 Information Security and Communication Technology

Research is vital to the security of our society. We teach and conduct research in cyber security, information security, communications networks and networked services. Our areas of expertise include biometrics, cyber defence, cryptography, digital forensics, security in e-health and welfare technology, intelligent transportation systems and malware. The Department of Information Security and Communication Technology is one of seven departments in the Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering .

Deadline 5th January 2020
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service NTNU Campus Gløshaugen

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