PhD Candidate in Data-Driven Multi-Disciplinary Diagnosis and Solution

Trondheim, Norway
14 Jan 2021
End of advertisement period
01 Feb 2021
SO IV-13/21
Contract Type
Full Time

About the position

We have a vacancy for a PhD candidate at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

The position is about how to diagnose and reduce railway track movements due to subsoil settlements/displacements or due to difference in stiffness of ballast and track components under train traffic. Norway is a mountainous country with complex geological conditions and foundation challenges (e.g. soft clay, landslides). A Norwegian railroad may over short distances along the line move several times from rigid bedrock onto soft clays, crossing culverts or bridges in hilly terrain. Track settlements may be related to emerging slope displacements, soft soil consolidation/creep or freezing/thawing cycles amplified by climate exposures (increased rainfall, rising global temperature). A joint PhD research study across Geotechnical (GT), Road, Railway and Transport (VT), and Geomatics (GM) domains is therefore launched to monitor, detect, analyze, warn and control railway track deformations in order to allow for high speed, smooth and efficient rail traffic. This research will be aided and accelerated by Information and communication technology including machine learning.

The PhD candidate will work on data-driven analysis of domain data from GT, VT and GM, with the aid/advisor of researchers in these three domains in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The aim is to develop multi-disciplinary diagnosis methods and solutions for settlement-induced damages of railway assets, through digitalization and integration of relevant data and technology.

You will report to main supervisor.

Duties of the position

  • Conduct scientific research relevant to the research topic above.
  • Draft project documents, academic paper under the advice of the supervisor.

Required selection criteria

PhD candidate:

The PhD-position's main objective is to qualify for work in research positions. The qualification requirement is that you have completed a master’s degree or second degree (equivalent to 120 credits) with a strong academic background in I) geotechnical engineering or II) railway engineering with a specialization on subgrade and track or equivalent education with a grade of B or better in terms of NTNU’s grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic foundation. If you are unable to meet these criteria you may be considered only if you can document that you are particularly suitable for education leading to a PhD degree.

This PhD position is a part of NTNUs initiative to establish a Center for Green Shift in the Built Environment hosted by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The Center’s vision is to create value in the society through Digitalisation. This center will utilize and develop  expertise, methods, tools and strategies for a sustainable built environment. The research and innovation activities of the center will be directed at a Green Shift and a Digital Future.

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, post doctor and research assistant.

Requested selection criteria

  • Relevance: The candidate should have proven research qualification/experience of geotechnical engineering. Experience in machine learning, railway and track infrastructure as well as remote sense data processing will be an advantage.
  • Capability: The candidate should have a good track record of publications (academic paper and/or degree thesis) of relevant topics (geotechnical engineering, transportation geotechnics, machine learning). Coding capability with machine learning will be an advantage
  • Communication skills: The candidate should have excellent written and oral English skills (standard English tests, or have at least 1 year of learning experience in English-speaking nations/districts or Nordic countries).

Preferred selection criteria

  • Proven education/research/work experience relevant to the research topic mentioned in “About the position” above.
  • Strong research background and output (relevant journal papers);
  • Multi-disciplinary experience in geotechnics, transportation, geomatics and machine learning;
  • Education background in general civil engineering (soil mechanics, engineering surveying, railway and transportation).
  • Norwegian language skills or working/learning experience in Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland

Personal characteristics

  • Self-motivated
  • Diligent
  • Rigorous
  • Cooperative
  • Ability to work independently and in a team. Ability to work in an inter- and cross-disciplinary environment.

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidate:

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 482 200 per annum before tax, depending on qualifications and seniority. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 3 years with no duty work.

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in Engineering within three months of employment, and that you participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period.

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 criteria 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.

It is a prerequisite you can be present at and accessible to the institution on a daily basis.

About the application

The application and supporting documentation to be used as the basis for the assessment must be in English.

Publications and other scientific work must follow the application. Please note that applications are only evaluated based on the information available on the application deadline. You should ensure that your application shows clearly how your skills and experience meet the criteria which are set out above. 

The application must include:

  • CV, certificates and diplomas
  • Research plan or project proposal
  • Academic works - published or unpublished - that you would like to be considered in the assessment (up to 10 works)
  • Name and address of three referees

Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify your contribution to joint works, you must attach a brief description of your participation.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability.

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

General information

Working at NTNU

A good work environment is characterized by diversity. We encourage qualified candidates to apply, regardless of their gender, functional capacity or cultural background. 

The city of Trondheim is a modern European city with a rich cultural scene. Trondheim is the innovation capital of Norway with a population of 200,000. The Norwegian welfare state, including healthcare, schools, kindergartens and overall equality, is probably the best of its kind in the world. Professional subsidized day-care for children is easily available. Furthermore, Trondheim offers great opportunities for education (including international schools) and possibilities to enjoy nature, culture and family life and has low crime rates and clean air quality.

As an employee at NTNU, you must at all times adhere to the changes that the development in the subject entails and the organizational changes that are adopted.

Information Act (Offentleglova), your name, age, position and municipality may be made public even if you have requested not to have your name entered on the list of applicants.

If you have any questions about the position, please contact Dr. Yutao Pan, telephone +47 92046973, email If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact Ms. Tone Måsøval Arntzen, e-mail:

Please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Diploma Supplement is required to attach for European Master Diplomas outside Norway. Chinese applicants are required to provide confirmation of Master Diploma from China Credentials Verification (CHSI).

If you are invited for interview you must include certified copies of transcripts and reference letters. Please refer to the application number SO IV-13/21 when applying.

Application deadline: 01.02.2021

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 Civil and Environmental Engineering

We conduct research and teaching in civil and transportation engineering, technical planning, structural engineering, water and wastewater engineering and hydraulic engineering. Graduates from our programmes become employees – in both the public and private sectors – with a sustainability mindset combined with competitive knowledge and skills. The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is one of eight departments in the Faculty of Engineering.

Deadline 1st February 2021
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

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