PhD Candidate in Protective Structures for Debris and Slush Flows

Updated: about 2 months ago
Deadline: 26 Apr 2024

26th April 2024

  • English

The Department of Structural Engineering has a vacancy for a
PhD Candidate in Protective Structures for Debris and Slush Flows
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About the job

At the Department of Structural Engineering , we have a vacancy for a PhD candidate in the testing, modelling, and simulation of flexible protective structures exposed to debris and slush flows. 

For a position as a PhD Candidate, the goal is a completed doctoral education up to an obtained doctoral degree.

Climate change is expected to intensify with global warming, which likely increases the intensity of extreme precipitation events and the impact of climate hazards. Examples of such climate hazards are debris and slush flows. These hazards are gravity-driven mass flows and expose a growing risk of extreme loading events on buildings and critical infrastructures. Successful estimation of the interaction between the load and the structural response is essential to ensure the robustness of critical infrastructure to these types of climate hazards. While forecasting and hazard mapping methods exist, the interaction between dynamic loading and flexible structures is not properly understood. Mainly because we lack the experimental techniques providing insight into the actual physics of the loading during such loading events, hindering our ability to validate the performance of advanced modelling and simulation techniques.

This project will address this challenge from a solid mechanics point of view, developing new methodologies to quantify the actual loading on typical protective structures. This will be done through testing, modelling, and simulation methodologies. The project's outcome will be (1) an enhanced understanding of debris and slush flows through detailed insights into the mechanics and behavior of debris flows and (2) new or improved protective structure designs for debris flow mitigation structures. The work is to be carried out within a well-known research group with decades of experience in the testing, modelling, and simulation of structures subjected to impact loads and high deformation rates.

The position will be supervised by professors at the Department of Structural Engineering. Your immediate leader is Associate Professor Vegard Aune. 

Duties of the position
  • Experimental work in laboratory environments using non-intrusive, optical techniques to measure the structural response.
  • Numerical modelling and simulation of the interaction between the load and the structural response during impact-loading events.
  • Combining experimental, theoretical, and numerical methods to establish a better understanding of the interaction between dynamic loading and flexible structures.
  • Develop innovative mitigation structures for debris and slush flows, supported by rigorous testing and analysis.

Required selection criteria
  • You must have a professionally relevant background in Structural engineering, Mechanical engineering, Computational mechanics, or related areas.
  • Your education must correspond to a five-year Norwegian degree program, 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.
  • Master's students can apply, but the master's degree must be obtained and documented by 1 July.
  • You must meet the requirements for admission to the PhD programme in Engineering .
  • You must be fluent in spoken and written English.

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 in non-linear finite element analysis and solid mechanics.
  • Experience in simulations of fluid-structure interaction, and particular particle-based methods (e.g., the Smoothed-Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH), the Discrete Element Method (DEM), the Material Point Method (MPM), or similar).
  • Experience in optical measurements related to experimental work.
  • Experience in avalanches, debris flow, and rockfalls.

Personal characteristics
  • Willing to work both independently and to collaborate with other researchers.
  • Motivated and ambitious.
  • Curious, creative, and eager to learn.

Emphasis will be placed on personal and interpersonal qualities.

We offer
  • Exciting and stimulating tasks in a strong international academic environment (SIMLab)
  • An open and inclusive work environment with dedicated colleagues
  • Favourable terms in the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund
  • Employee benefits

Salary and conditions

As a PhD candidate (code 1017) you are normally paid from gross NOK 532 200 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 without teaching duties, or four years with 25 % teaching duties, depending on the candidate’s qualifications.
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.

Please note that the candidate holding the announced position is expected to work with critical infrastructure and areas affected by control of the export of strategic goods, services and technology. Candidates with the potential of not fulfilling requirement for security clearance, access clearance and authorization as described in the Act Relating to National Security, The Export Control Act and Act on the Implementation of International Sanctions (Sanctions Act) cannot be considered for the position (e.g., candidates from Russia, Iran, North Korea, China, among other countries).

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 daily.

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 be attached to the application. Please note that your application will be considered based solely on information submitted by the application deadline. You must therefore ensure that your application clearly demonstrates how your skills and experience fulfil the criteria specified above.

The application must include: 

  • CV and certificates
  • 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. If you recently have submitted your master's thesis, you can attach a draft of the thesis. Documentation of a completed master's degree must be presented before taking up the position.
  • Name and contact information of three referees

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 Vegard Aune, e-mail [email protected]. If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact Kristine Grønvold, e-mail: [email protected]

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: 26.04.2024

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NTNU - knowledge for a better world

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 .


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26th April 2024


NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology




Fulltime (1 positions) Fulltime (%)



Place of service
Richard Birkelands vei 1A, 7034 Trondheim


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