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BELGIUM - THESIS - ENHANCE MSCA ITN: Health Monitoring & Lifecycle Management of Advanced Aerospace Composite Structures (BE-TP-2020-001)

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Applicants are invited to work as part of a European-funded Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN), “ENHANCE”. Successful applicants will also register for a PhD at the Polytechnic University of Milan (Italy). Full description of the Innovative Training Network ESRs can be found on: https://euraxess.ec.europa.eu/jobs/471470.



Damage of aerospace structures can be a financial burden to the operator and the manufacturer and ultimately life-threatening for passengers. This is the main reason for which a large part of an aircraft’s lifecycle and operating cost is spent on inspecting its structural integrity on the ground. On-line detection and characterization of minor failures within composite aerospace structures can lead to a radical reduction of this cost. Computing the behavior of these active systems and their response over the whole life cycle through structural damage can be a computationally challenging task and manufacturing challenge.

The successful applicant will be expected to make significant contributions to the development of process monitoring and simulation of structures with integrated sensors used for prognosis in complex composites. The work will be carried out under the ESR entitled: Virtual Laboratory for Modelling and Optimization of Manufacturing of Composites Structures with embedded structural health monitoring systems.


Description of the mission

The objective of the thesis taken on by the PhD candidate is to reach a development framework where the acousto-ultrasonic SHM (Structural Heath Monitoring) system is an integral part of the manufacturing process of smart composites. The technology and methodology will rely on the information that can be obtained through virtual multi-physical models.

Research and numerical simulation work will focus on:

  • Accurately predicting and understanding how sensors can be integrated as close as possible to “hot-spots” without jeopardizing structural integrity or manufacturing tolerances.
  • Accurately predicting and understaning initial stress levels in composites considering processing conditions & signals measured by sensors.
  • Exploring the effect of the curing process on the propagation of guided waves.

Specificities of the mission

Candidates will be required to meet the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Early Stage Researcher eligibility criteria: (ec.europa.eu/research/mariecurieactions). At point of appointment candidates must have had less than four years full-time equivalent research experience and must not have already obtained a PhD. Additionally, they must meet the Mobility Rule which implies not having resided in the host country (BE) for more than 12 months in the three years immediately before beginning the ESR position. Please refer to https://euraxess.ec.europa.eu/jobs/471470 (see the additional information section) for further details about eligibility.


Approval and Enrollment

The selected candidate will be enrolled within the PhD Program in Mechanical Engineering of Politecnico di Milano. Additional rules and regulations can be found at https://www.mecc.polimi.it/us/phd/organisation/ and  http://www.dottorato.polimi.it/carriera-dottorandi/iniziare-il-dottorato/ (annual evaluations, mandatory ECTS, etc.).



This full-time post will be available from June 2020 and is offered on a fixed-term 36 month contract. The post benefits from a highly competitive salary, including a mobility allowance and a family allowances where applicable.



Candidates must be in possession of (or expected to obtain) a first class or a 2:1 degree in mechanical/aerospace engineering, applied mathematics/physics or a relevant discipline and have a sound background mechanics and/or composite structures numerical modelling.

Candidates should:

  • Have completed an internship or have working experience in computational mechanics or engineering of composite materials.
  • Have a strong interest in programming and methodology development.
  • Be pragmatic and meticulous. Scientific curiosity and technical background are your key partners to catch rapidly the industrial stakes in this thesis.
  • Beyond technical skills, have a good critical spirit, analysis and communication ability that will be assets to tackle this PhD project.
  • Be fluent in English.
  • Be a team player to interact with colleagues, other ESR candidates and academic supervisors.

Being a PhD student in an ITN includes a considerable amount of travelling including participation in meetings and workshops and stays of periods of a few months outside the host laboratory. Therefore, a requirement is the willingness to travel and stay abroad.

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