PhD Candidate in Safety Demonstration of Autonomously Controlled Ships using Digital Twin

Trondheim, Norway
06 Jul 2021
End of advertisement period
22 Aug 2021
Contract Type
Full Time

About the position

We have a vacant 3-year PhD position at the department of Engineering Cybernetics at NTNU in the new 8-year research-based innovationCentre  SFI AutoShip. The objective of the position is to provide new insight into to how digital twins can be utilized to demonstrate safety built into autonomous systems. SFI AutoShip consists of 22 industry, research, and university partners and are in total employing around 20 PhD positions and 5 Postdoc positions over the period. Being part of SFI AutoShip means close contact to industry and involvement in Centre workshops and activities. 

The main scientific supervisor for the PhD position is Professor Mary Ann Lundteigen and the candidate will also receive co-supervision and have collaborations with one or more of the SFI AutoShip partners. In addition, the position is part of the academic environment at the Department of Engineering Cybernetics.

You will report to the Head of Department.

Why apply for a PhD position?

A PhD position is a researcher education where you learn how to approach and solve complex tasks. Compared to a master education, you will be able to investigate deeply into some specific, challenging and currently unsolved research questions, and work systematically to try to answer them during a period of 3 years. New skills are acquired by attending PhD courses and seminars, and you have allocated funding to attend conferences and make short visits to meet other researchers in your area. At the end of the 3-year period you will be able to present and defend your work for which you are awarded a PhD degree. As part of SFI AutoShip, you will not work in isolation, but be part of a larger team where you acquire relevant work experience. With the PhD degree you are attractive both for the industry, for research institutes and a life in academia. Perhaps one of the SFI partners will be your future employer.

Duties of the position

The main objective of the research of the PhD position is to develop a digital twin that can be used for safety demonstration of autonomous control systems. The main application area is ships, including its infrastructures.

A digital twin can be regarded as a virtual representation of a ship, its behavior, and interaction the environment including human-machine interfaces. Digital twins in the form of dynamic simulators have been available for years, but the focus has been on automatic rather than autonomous systems. Operating a ship autonomously will place new requirements on safety functions built into the control system, in order to detect and respond to unexpected events and abnormal situations. These functions must also have the necessary diagnostics capabilities to reveal and manage internal faults. A digital twin for safety demonstration must therefore constitute models and interfaces that are needed to test these functions. A first step of the research is to develop specific requirements for the utilization of digital twin for this purpose, while a second step is develop and demonstrate a digital twin prototype that can be tested with practical use cases suggested by the industry partners. 

SFI AutoShip wants to recruit more female candidates to PhD positions in SFI AutoShip, to improve the gender balance in the maritime sector. Women are needed at all levels in organizations and their contribution to more diversified teams is essential to reach better decisions about technology development, deployment, and leadership. We therefore encourage female candidates to apply for this position. 

Required selection criteria

  • MSc in control engineering or equivalent education
  • Your education must correspond to a five-year Norwegian degree programme, where 120 credits are obtained at master's level 
  • You must have a strong academic background from your previous studies and an average grade from the master's degree program, or equivalent education, which is equal to B or better compared with NTNU's grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic basis. If you have a weaker grade background, you may be assessed if you can document that you are particularly suitable for a PhD education. 
  • You must meet the requirements for admission to the faculty's doctoral program.

The PhD-position's main objective is to qualify for work in research positions, either in research institutes, universities or in industry. The qualification requirement is completion of a master’s degree or second degree (equivalent to 120 credits) with a strong academic background in in control engineering (cybernetics) 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.

Other required selection criterias:

  • Programming skills (Phyton, MATLAB, C++, or equivalent)
  • Some knowledge and/or experience with digital twins and their application
  • Modeling and simulation skills
  • Some knowledge and/or experience with digital twins and their application
  • Excellent English skills (written and oral)
  • Excellent collaborate skills

Preferred selection criteria

  • Knowledge and/or interests in the domains of safety and risk
  • Knowledge and/or interest in the maritime sector
  • Interest and/or knowledge in machine learning/artificial intelligence
  • Mastering of a Scandinavian language

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience, personal suitability, and motivation, as documented according to the requirements for the application.  

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and Regulations concerning the degrees of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) and Philosodophiae Doctor (PhD) in artistic research national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant  

The PhD candidates who, based on a comprehensive first-hand assessment, might come into conflict with legislation governing exports of knowledge, technology and services will not advance further from the first stage in the recruitment process. For further information, please refer to the Export Control Act.

Personal characteristics

The candidate is expected to:

  • Be scientifically curious and open to new research challenges
  • Demonstrate independence and persistence in addressing technical problems
  • Be flexible and reliable, with ability to work effectively independently and as part of a team
  • Have excellent collaborative skills

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 491 200 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.

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in engineering cybernetics 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.

The position is subject to external funding.

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

About the application

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

The application must include:

  • A short and directed application letter that (in English or Norwegian) identifies:
    • Your motivation for a PhD study
    • Your understanding and reflections about the topic(s) of the position
    • How you meet the required and preferred selection criteria
    • Your preferred direction and focus, based on your interests and background.
  • CV including contact details, education, work experience, and (if any) publications.
  • Contact information for at least two reference persons
  • Certified copies of academic diplomas and transcripts (in English or Norwegian)
  • Link that gives access to, or a copy of, your master thesis (if published/submitted)
  • Copy of other selected academic work (such as publications, if any) that you find to be relevant for the application. 

If all, or parts, of your education has been taken abroad, we also ask you to attach documentation of the scope and quality of your entire education, both bachelor's and master's education, in addition to other higher education. Description of the documentation required can be found here. If you already have a statement from NOKUT, please attach this as well.

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 and interpersonal qualities. Motivation, ambitions, and potential will also count in the assessment of the candidates. 

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

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.

In accordance with The Public 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 Professor Mary-Ann Lundteigen, email

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 2021/35245 when applying.

Application deadline: 22.08.2021

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 Engineering Cybernetics (ITK)

Engineering cybernetics is the study of automatic control and monitoring of dynamic systems. We develop the technologies of tomorrow through close cooperation with industry and academia, both in Norway and internationally. The Department contributes to the digitalization, automation and robotization of society. The Department of Engineering Cybernetics is one of seven departments in the Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.

Deadline 22nd August 2021
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Project
Place of service Trondheim

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