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PhD/Postdoc Position in Machine Learning and Data Analysis of Wheel Wear in Trains

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About the job

A PhD or postdoctoral fellowship in machine learning and data analysis of wheel wear in trains is available at the Department of Structural Engineering, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway. The position has a duration of three years and starts in the summer/fall of 2023 or later.

If you apply for the position as a PhD candidate, the goal is a completed doctoral education up to an obtained doctoral degree. Candidates already having a PhD are welcome to apply for the position as a postdoctoral researcher.

The candidate will be a part of the Structural Mechanics research group at NTNU. The group conducts research at an internationally high level within the disciplines of structural and mechanical modeling and experiments, instrumentation of civil infrastructures, systems for monitoring, condition assessment, and large-scale data analysis. We work with a multitude of structural mechanic problems but have particular experience with critical road and rail infrastructures.

The research project aims to utilize data recorded from the electrical and control systems on trains to indirectly monitor the wheel-track interaction, and improve the understanding of wheel wear for predictive maintenance. The candidate will be conducting analysis of mechanical, electrical, positional (GPS), and environmental data measured on trains in operation in the Norwegian railway network. The project includes qualitative studies of wheel-track interaction, as well as statistical studies of the important influence factors. The project will rely mainly on machine learning methods for the development of data-driven models for wheel wear that can be used for optimizing train maintenance and operation.

The candidate will work on a joint research project with leading railway industry companies STADLER, ABB, and Norske tog. Norske tog manages the entire Norwegian passanger train fleet. The trains under consideration are made by STADLER, using electric traction supplied by ABB. These companies will support the project closely with data infrastructure and know-how expertise on traction systems.

We offer a PhD/postdoc position within an international research environment with a scope that is highly relevant for applied research and industrial needs. The industrial partners in this project, STADLER and ABB, will support the research candidate during the project period through regular meetings and facilitate interesting visits to their production sites in Switzerland. Publication of the project results in peer-reviewed journals is expected, as well as regular feedback to project partners.

The candidate will report to the supervising professors at NTNU.

Duties of the position

  • Partake in the collection, organization, and processing of data acquired from trains
  • Learn the main principles of train traction and wheel wear in trains
  • Learn and explore methods for data analysis and machine learning techniques suitable for wheel wear prediction
  • Develop models to predict wheel wear from on-board sensor data in trains
  • Produce scientific articles for publication in international scientific journals
  • Contribute to building a collaborative and interactive local and international research team
  • Fulfill the NTNU’s course credit requirements for the award of a doctoral degree (PhD candidates only)

Required selection criteria

If applying for a PhD candidate position

  • You must have a professionally relevant background in engineering, for instance Mechanical Engineering, Structural Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Computational Engineering Sciences, or Data Engineering Sciences.
  • 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 of Engineering doctoral program.

If applying for a Postdoctoral researcher position

The candidate must have completed a Norwegian doctoral degree, or corresponding foreign doctoral degree recognized as equivalent to a Norwegian doctoral degree, in structural engineering, mechanical engineering, or electrical engineering. Candidates who have not yet defended their doctoral thesis at the time of application are encouraged to apply provided completion before entering the position.

In addition to academic results and publications, the following will be considered when evaluating the applicants:

  • Research experience related to trains, railways, and transport infrastructure.
  • Research experience within monitoring systems, data processing, and application of machine learning techniques.
  • Applicants must have excellent English language skills, written and spoken. Such evidence might be represented by the results from standard tests such as TOEFL, IELTS, Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) or Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE). The candidate's language skills might also be assessed in a personal interview.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with Regulations on terms of employment for positions such as postdoctoral fellow, Phd candidate, research assistant and specialist candidate 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 

Preferred selection criteria

  • Experience with trains or railway infrastructure in an academic or industrial context.
  • Experience with data analysis or machine learning techniques.
  • Experience in conducting research.
  • Good written and oral English language skills.
  • Good programming skills in Matlab, Python, or similar.

Personal characteristics

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Independent and self-driven
  • Team-worker and collaborator
  • Motivated to learn new topics and new skills

Emphasis will be placed on personal and interpersonal qualities.

We offer

Salary and conditions

As a PhD candidate (code 1017) you are normally paid from gross NOK  501 200 per annum before tax, depending on qualifications and seniority. As a postdoctoral researcher (code 1352) you are normally paid from gross NOK 563 500 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 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

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

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

  • A cover letter where the applicant describes his/her personal motivation and relevance with respect to the requirements of this advertisement.
  • CV, certificates, and diplomas.
  • Transcripts and diplomas for bachelor's and master's degrees. If you have not completed the master's degree, you must submit a confirmation that the master's thesis has been submitted.
  • A copy of the master's thesis (or PhD thesis, if you already have a PhD). If you recently have submitted your thesis, you can attach a draft of the thesis. Documentation of a completed master's degree (or PhD degree) must be presented before taking up the position.
  • List of publications or academic works (published or unpublished) that you would like to be considered in the assessment.
  • Names and contact information for at least two referees.
  • If you have publications or other relevant research work.

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.

We will take joint work into account. If it is difficult to identify your efforts in the joint work, you must enclose a short 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. 

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

NTNU believes that inclusion and diversity is our strength. We want to recruit people with different competencies, educational backgrounds, life experiences and perspectives to contribute to solving our social responsibilities within education and research. We will facilitate for our employees’ needs.

NTNU is working actively to increase the number of women employed in scientific positions and has a number of resources to promote equality. 

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.

A public list of applicants with name, age, job title and municipality of residence is prepared after the application deadline. If you want to reserve yourself from entry on the public applicant list, this must be justified. Assessment will be made in accordance with current legislation. You will be notified if the reservation is not accepted.

If you have any questions about the position, please contact Øyvind Wiig Petersen, telephone (+47) 95054612, e-mail If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact June Hovde, e-mail

If you think this looks interesting and in line with your qualifications, please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates attached. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Upon request, you must be able to obtain certified copies of your documentation.  

Application deadline: 01.05.23


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 Structural Engineering

We teach mechanical engineering, engineering and ICT, and civil and environmental engineering. The Department conducts internationally leading research and participates in several large national research projects. The Department of Structural Engineering is one of eight departments in the Faculty of Engineering.

Deadline 1st May 2023
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service


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