PhD Position in Development of Optimization Based Design Strategies Using (Flexible) Multibody Simulation

Catholic University of Leuven


The KU Leuven Mecha(tro)nic System Dynamics division (LMSD) is searching for a research engineer to join its team to work in the challenging FlexMoSys strategic basic research project.


•This PhD is part of a project aiming to develop a novel approach towards an integrated design framework for mechatronic systems. In the development of high-end mechatronic products, a shorter time-to-market strongly improves the competitive position of companies. However, the design of these products still suffers from late designs problems, as the designs process is siloed over different departments. In this project a fully integrated framework will be developed which allows to bridge the various trade-offs in the design of mechatronic products going from mechanical system design, over actuator design and embedded hardware systems. In this PhD, the focus is on the development of the optimization based design framework for mechanical and actuator systems.  
•As a researcher you will investigate novel methods to combine flexible multibody models through co-simulation approaches with actuators with the aim of designing these coupled systems. For the design process you will focus on the exploitation and development of various optimization schemes which enable an efficient parameter selection. Depending on the main bottlenecks you encounter in setting up this process, the research can shift more towards efficient co-simulation methods, (approximate) adjoint solvers for the coupled models, or novel optimization schemes. You will validate the developments in first instance on academic problems, and finally scale them to (close-to-)industrial complexity cases. 
•The research is hosted by the KU Leuven Mecha(tro)nic System Dynamics division (LMSD), which currently counts >100 researchers. This research track is supervised by prof. Frank Naets ( ). The research group has a long track record of combining excellent fundamental academic research with industrially relevant applications, leading to dissemination in both highly ranked academic journals as well as on industrial fora. More information on the research group can be found on the website: and our linkedIn page:


If you recognize yourself in the story below, then you have the profile that fits the project and the research group.
•I have a master degree in engineering, physics or mathematics and performed above average in comparison to my peers.
•I am proficient in written and spoken English.
•During my courses or prior professional activities, I have gathered some basic experience with numerical modelling methods and optimization methods.
•I have notions about multibody simulation and 1D simulation frameworks like Simulink/Simscape. 
•I am proficient in programming basic methods in Matlab. 
•As a PhD researcher of the KU Leuven Noise and Vibration Research Group I perform research in a structured and scientifically sound manner. I read technical papers, understand the nuances between different theories and implement and improve methodologies myself. 
•Based on interactions and discussions with my supervisors and the colleagues in my team, I set up and update a plan of approach for the upcoming 1 to 3 months to work towards my research goals. I work with a sufficient degree of independence to follow my plan and achieve the goals. I indicate timely when deviations of the plan are required, if goals cannot be met or if I want to discuss intermediate results or issues.
•In frequent reporting, varying between weekly to monthly, I show the results that I have obtained and I give a well-founded interpretation of those results. I iterate on my work and my approach based on the feedback of my supervisors which steer the direction of my research.
•I feel comfortable to work as a team member and I am eager to share my results to inspire and being inspired by my colleagues.
•I value being part of a large research group which is well connected to the machine and transportation industry and I am eager to learn how academic research can be linked to industrial innovation roadmaps.
•During my PhD I want to grow towards following up the project that I am involved in and representing the research group on project meetings or conferences. I see these events as an occasion to disseminate my work to an audience of international experts and research colleagues, and to learn about the larger context of my research and the research project.


•A remuneration package competitive with industry standards in Belgium, a country with a high quality of life and excellent health care system.
•An opportunity to pursue a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, typically a 4 year trajectory, in a stimulating and ambitious research environment.  
•Ample occasions to develop yourself in a scientific and/or an industrial direction. Besides opportunities offered by the research group, further doctoral training for PhD candidates is provided in the framework of the KU Leuven Arenberg Doctoral School (, known for its strong focus on both future scientists and scientifically trained professionals who will valorise their doctoral expertise and competences in a non-academic context. More information on the training opportunities can be found on the following link: 
•A stay in a vibrant environment in the hearth of Europe. The university is located in Leuven, a town of approximately 100000 inhabitants, located close to Brussels (25km), and 20 minutes by train from Brussels International Airport. This strategic positioning and the strong presence of the university, international research centers, and industry, lead to a safe town with high quality of life, welcome to non-Dutch speaking people and with ample opportunities for social and sport activities. The mixture of cultures and research fields are some of the ingredients making the university of Leuven the most innovative university in Europe ( Further information can be found on the website of the university:


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Frank Naets, tel.: +32 16 37 26 93, mail: or Mr. Bert Pluymers, tel.: +32 16 32 25 29, mail:

To apply for this position, please follow the application tool and enclose:
1.full CV – mandatory
2.motivation letter – mandatory
3.full list of credits and grades of both BSc and MSc degrees (as well as their transcription to English if possible) – mandatory (when you haven’t finished your degree yet, just provide us with the partial list of already available credits and grades)
4.proof of English proficiency (TOEFL, IELTS, …) - if available
5.two reference letters - if available English version of MSc or PhD thesis, or of a recent publication or assignment - if available
You can apply for this job no later than January 31, 2022 via the
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: January 31, 2022
  • Tags: Ingenieurswetenschappen

In your application, please refer to


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