PhD Research Fellowship Position in Human Factors and Control Rooms

Trondheim, Norway
19 Apr 2018
End of advertisement period
27 May 2018
AD- 2018/11566
Contract Type
Full Time

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) is now launching a strategic research program called Digital transformation with nine research projects. One of these projects is about the development of autonomous all-electric passenger ferries for urban water transport (Autoferry). Succeeding with the Autoferry project requires a broad interdisciplinary approach and involves six PhD positions. The position announced here is on the topic of Interaction design and Human factors, and is affiliated with the Department of Design (ID) at the Faculty of Achitecture and design. The place of work is in Trondheim.

Information about the department

The Department of design (ID) consists of two groups which are about the same size: one at Gløshaugen campus in Trondheim and one in Gjøvik. The group in Trondheim is responsible for a 5-year integrated master degree in Design (Industrial design and Interaction design), a 2-year International Master in Industrial design, as well as a doctoral program (PhD) in Industrial/Interaction design. The group in Gjøvik has responsibility for three Bachelor programs in graphic design, web development and interaction design, and a 2-year master's degree in interaction design, as well as a one year program in web design. One of the research fields at the department is Interaction design. Traditionally, Interaction design has been oriented towards web design, app design and general software development. In recent years, industry has become more aware of the value of Interaction design as an important approach to reduce the risk of human error in complex operations such as in control rooms, on ships’ bridges and in health and welfare systems.

Work description

In the aforementioned autonomous ferry project, the successful candidate will work on tasks relating to human-robot interaction. The goal is to optimize the understanding and transparency of technical systems vis-a-vis human operators, passengers and other, manned, crafts. The candidate will work at least within three areas: 1) passenger-ferry interaction, 2) remote operator-ferry interaction and 3) interaction between the ferry and other manned ships. The candidate will use a Human Centred Design methodology to research, build and test prototype systems.

Passenger-autonomous ferry interaction. Tasks involve communication during pre-boarding, embarkation, voyage and disembarkation of the ferry. Procedures to avoid overload and unbalance, emergency procedures during fire and evacuation.

Remote operator-ferry interaction. The ferry will be monitored, and in exceptional cases controlled, by a remote operator. This shore control room must support adequate situation awareness for the remote operator. The candidate will research, design and test a shore control room for the ferry.

Interaction between the autonomous ferry and other manned vessels. The rules of the road at sea are governed by IMO’s collision regulations. Given good sensors, some part of collision avoidance can be automated. But this is not always the case, and therefore good communication and clarity of intentions will be crucial for successful interaction between autonomous ships and humans in other vessels. The candidate will research, design and test prototype systems solving problems in this area.

Although the practical project relates to a local pedestrian ferry in Trondheim, the research should be scalable to other types of ferries including archipelago and fjord ferries in a Norwegian setting as well as longer over-sea ferry connections.

The research will be carried out in an interdisciplinary environment of several research groups, and under guidance of supervisors from the Department of Design (ID) in Trondheim and the Department of Ocean Operations and Civil Engineering (IHB), in Ålesund.

The appointment is for a term of 3 years without teaching assistance, or up to 4 years including 25% of teaching assistance.

For further information about the position, please contact Professor Thomas Porathe (


We seek a highly-motivated individual holding a master’s degree in design, interaction design, human factors, cognitive psychology, marine sciences or other relevant areas. The average grade must be B or better. Candidates with a background in nautical areas will be prioritized. Publication activities in the aforementioned disciplines will be considered an advantage.

Motivation for fundamental scientific research of practical relevance is essential. The applicant should have good communication skills and be willing to collaborate with other researchers in the cross-disciplinary group of people connected to this project. The successful applicant will be based at the NTNU’s Department of Design in Trondheim. We particularly encourage women to apply for the position.

Academic results, publications, relevant specialization, work or research experience, personal qualifications, and motivation will be considered when evaluating the applicants.

Excellent English skills, written and spoken, are required. Applicants who do not master a Scandinavian language must provide evidence of good English language skills, written and spoken. 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 or A.

Formal regulations

Appointments are made in accordance with the regulations in force regarding terms of employment for PhD candidates issued by the Ministry of Education and Research, with relevant parts of the additional guidelines for appointment as a PhD candidate at NTNU.

Applicants must undertake to participate in an organized PhD programme of study during their period of employment. The person who is appointed must comply with the conditions that apply at any time to employees in the public sector. In addition, a contract will be signed regarding the period of employment.

The appointment is for a term of 3 years without teaching assistance, or up to 4 years including 25% of teaching assistance.

It is a prerequisite that the successful applicant applies for and is granted admission to the relevant PhD study program as soon as possible after employment. NTNU’s PhD regulations require a master’s degree or equivalent with at least 5 years of studies, and an average ECTS grade of A or B within a scale of A-E for passing grades (A best). Applicants must be qualified for admission as PhD students at NTNU. See for more information.

See here for regulations concerning appointment and promotion to teaching and research posts:

Salary conditions

The PhD position is placed in code 1017 and are normally remunerated at gross NOK 436 500 before tax. A deduction of 2% is made as a statutory contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund


NTNU can offer an informal and friendly workplace with dedicated colleagues, academic challenges and attractive schemes for home loans, insurance and pensions in the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The Faculty of Architecture and Design wants to attract outstanding and creative candidates who can contribute to our ongoing research activities. We believe that diversity is important to achieve a good, inclusive working environment. We encourage all qualified candidates to apply, regardless of the gender, disability or cultural background.

The appointment is subject to the conditions in effect at any time for employees in the public sector, and assessments regarding the legislations regulating export control.

Under Section 25 of the Freedom of Information Act, information about the applicant may be made public even if the applicant has requested not to have his or her name entered on the list of applicants.

For further information about the position, please contact Professor Thomas Porathe (

Application requirements

Applications are to be submitted electronically through this page ( Preferably, all attachments should be combined into a single file.

The application must contain:

  • CV including information relevant for the qualifications and contact information for at least 2 reference persons
  • Certified copies of academic diplomas and transcripts
  • Applicants from universities outside of Norway are requested to send a diploma supplement (or a similar document) which describes in detail the study and grading system, and the rights for further studies associated with the obtained degree
  • A short research statement (max. 3 pages) including:
    • A short presentation of the motivation for a PhD study
    • Why the applicant is suited for the position
    • The applicant’s view of research challenges for the PhD position

Publications and any other work that the applicant wishes to be considered must also be enclosed. Joint works will be considered if a short summary outlining the applicant's contributions is attached.

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Mark the application with the reference number: AD- 2018/11566

Application deadline: May 27th, 2018

About this job

  • Deadline Sunday, May 27, 2018
  • Employer NTNU - Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet
  • Website
  • Municipality Trondheim
  • Place of service Institutt for Design
  • Jobbnorge ID 151396
  • Internal ID AD - 18/11566
  • Scope Fulltime
  • Duration Temporary

About applications

  • Applications on this job are registered in an electronic form on
  • You must complete: Standard CV
  • Please refer to where you first saw this job advertised!