PhD Position Aerodynamics of Unsteady Wing-Wake Interactions

Updated: 5 months ago
Deadline: 20 Oct 2022

PhD Position Aerodynamics of Unsteady Wing-Wake Interactions
PhD Position Aerodynamics of Unsteady Wing-Wake Interactions
Published Deadline Location
today 20 Oct Delft

Job description

Unsteady aerodynamic forcing affects the operation of a wide variety of natural, biological, and industrial systems: from insect flight to wind turbines. These forces can be understood in terms of simplistic, quasi-steady assumptions, which are inaccurate but interpretable, or they can be predicted via computationally intensive numerical methods which are accurate but do not always provide physical insight. This project will explore methods for incorporating unsteady time-history effects in interpretable low-order models for aerodynamic force prediction.

This four-year PhD project will develop methods for the identification of the dependence of instantaneous forces experienced by unsteadily oscillating bodies, such as the wings of insects or the blades of a wind turbine, on their kinematic time history. The focus will initially be on kinematics related to the flapping flight of insects, because of the complex reciprocating motion they employ and commensurately complex interplay of force-producing mechanisms. The ultimate goal is to develop both physical understanding of the aerodynamic mechanisms involved in wing-wake interaction and a methodology for nonlinear time-dependent system identification which can be more broadly applied to unsteady industrial flows in, for example, wind energy and aerospace applications.

The approach taken will be based on the generation and analysis of experimental data, using a unique unsteady flows facility which combines advanced flow diagnostic methods, including particle image velocimetry (PIV), with industrial robotics hardware. Working from a sufficient database of experimental flow and force measurements, the functional dependence of force on kinematic history in a lower-order space will be regressed. Possible means of performing this data analysis include techniques from dynamical systems theory and machine learning: For example, the extended dynamic mode decomposition or Volterra series representation.

The PhD student will be hosted by the Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime, and Materials Engineering (3mE) of TU Delft, within the Fluid Mechanics group of the Energy, Flow, and Process Technology department and will have the opportunity to collaborate with our partners at the Wageningen University Experimental Zoology group.     

  • 38—40 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • Delft View on Google Maps

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


We are looking for a candidate with an MSc degree (or equivalent) in a field related to Aerodynamics, Fluid Mechanics, Mechanical Engineering, Applied Mathematics. Experience in the fields of Biomechanics or Systems and Control would also be valued.

The candidate is expected to have the following skillset:

  • A strong background in fluid mechanics or aerodynamics (eg. turbulence, unsteady flows, biopropulsion).
  • Experience with experimental flow measurement techniques (eg. particle image velocimetry).
  • Scientific computing and programming skills are necessary (eg. C/C++, Python, Matlab).
  • A good command of the English language is required.
  • Experience with data-driven analysis or system identification techniques (eg. dynamic mode decomposition) is a plus.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements .

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.

Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!

Faculty Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering

The Faculty of 3mE carries out pioneering research, leading to new fundamental insights and challenging applications in the field of mechanical engineering. From large-scale energy storage, medical instruments, control technology and robotics to smart materials, nanoscale structures and autonomous ships. The foundations and results of this research are reflected in outstanding, contemporary education, inspiring students and PhD candidates to become socially engaged and responsible engineers and scientists. The faculty of 3mE is a dynamic and innovative faculty with an international scope and high-tech lab facilities. Research and education focus on the design, manufacture, application and modification of products, materials, processes and mechanical devices, contributing to the development and growth of a sustainable society, as well as prosperity and welfare.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering. Do you want to experience working at our faculty? These videos will introduce you to some of our researchers and their work.

Additional information

For further information about this vacancy please contact Dr. Abel-John Buchner at .

Working at TU Delft

Join the oldest and largest technical university in the Netherlands. Work on clever solutions for worldwide challenges, to change the world and make an impact. Ready to bring your energy to our research?

Challenge, change, impact!

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Application procedure

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply before 20 October 2022 via the application button and upload your motivation and CV.

Interested applicants should send:
1) a letter of motivation (max two pages);
2) a detailed Curriculum Vitae;
3) contact details of two professional referees;
4) a list of courses with grades from their BSc and MSc program;
5) a summary of your MSc thesis, and
6) a list of publications (if any).

  • A pre-employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.
  • You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.
  • Acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated.

For further information about the application procedure contact . 

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