PhD Candidate within process engineering/artificial intelligence

Updated: 3 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 01 Oct 2022

About the position

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

In the context of Industry 4.0, digitalization is a key concept for developing novel advanced control and optimization techniques. In this way, artificial intelligence (AI) models have been widely used for control and optimization purposes. However, the main limitation of using AI to model complex processes is the extensive data required for training the model and the lack of interpretability of these models.

On the other hand, in recent years, new AI techniques have been developed to provide interpretability and less data dependence on these models. One of these techniques is Physic Informed Neural Networks (PINNs), a knowledge-driven approach. In other words, it learns from mathematical information. The identification of a PINNs model is based on a learning function computed through a mathematical model encompassing the physical knowledge regarding the system. The training makes the network learn the solution of the mathematical model. In this context, the training of neural networks is obtained without the need for laboratory experiments or tests in an industrial environment. On the other hand, the trained model encapsulates the mathematical laws that drive the system. 

In the context of control theory, several developments have been achieved in the last years. Advanced predictive controllers have been developed with performance guarantees, such as stability and optimality. However, these controllers require a lot of computational effort, making implementing these strategies embedded directly in industrial hardware (programmable logic controllers, PLCs) challenging.

In this context, this project aims to advance the current state of the art and build a robust predictive control strategy oriented to artificial intelligence models represented by PINNs. Thus, it is expected that the controllers based on PINNs will inherit the original control problem's mathematical guarantees (optimality and feasibility). Bayesian Inference and Monte Carlo methods will support the uncertainties identification. The methodology will have its concept proven by embedding it in a PLC used to control a Pressure Swim Adsorption unit for CO2 capture.

Your supervisor is Associate Professor Idelfonso Bessa.

Duties of the position
  • Develop the methodology to translate a predictive controller into a PINNs
  • Identify uncertainty associated with the strategy
  • Developing all programming codes of the proposed controller
  • Integrate an existent digital twin with the PINNs controller
  • Embedding the developed control strategies in a PLC
  • Carry out qualitative research activities such as systematic literature reviews using bibliometrics tools
  • Take part in mentoring undergraduate and master's students
  • Take part in the mandatory Ph.D. research education program, conduct independent research, publish the result in recognized scientific journals and present them at international conferences

Required selection criteria
  • ​​​​​​You must have a professionally relevant background in Chemical Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Stability analysis of Model Predictive Controllers, Cyclic Adsorption processes, Artificial intelligence, Uncertainty, Modeling of Dynamic Systems or similar
  • 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 Ph.D. education.
  • You need a strong background in the topic of the research project
  • You need strong experience in using methodologies and tools requested by the project (Preferred Methodologies: Advanced process control; Preferred Tools: simulation software, programming)
  • You must meet the requirements for admission to the faculty's doctoral program Chemical Engineering ( )
  • Good written and oral English.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with  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
  • Strong analytical skills and interest in quantitative approaches
  • Competence in using programming languages Python, Matlab, Julia, and gPROMS
  • Experience in mentoring undergraduate students
  • Experience in uncertainty analysis of models and experimental data
  • Knowledge of Bayesian inference and Markov Chain Monte Carlo methods
  • Modeling and simulation of control systems (PID, MPC, IHMPC, RIHMPC)
  • It is beneficial if the applicant has some previous experience in research
  • You need strong experience in using methodologies and tools requested by the project
    • Preferred Methodologies: Advanced process control; Preferred Tools: simulation software, programming

Personal characteristics
  • Ability to work independently as well as in teams
  • Good communication skills
  • Strong writing capabilities

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. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 4 years with 25 % teaching duties in agreement with the Department.

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in Chemical 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.

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 follow 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:

  • Motivationletter (Max 1 A4-page)
  • 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. Documentation of a completed master's degree must be presented before taking up the position.
  • Project proposal
  • Name and contact information of three 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.

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 Associate Professor Idelfonso Bessa, email .

If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact HR-consultant Andrea Sommervold, e-mail: .

If you think this looks interesting and in line with your qualifications, please submit your application electronically via jobbnorge .no 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: 01.10.2022

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The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

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