PhD Positions in Human-AI Collaboration for Design at Scale (D@S)

PhD Positions in Human-AI Collaboration for Design at Scale (D@S)

Published Deadline Location
24 Feb 5 Apr Delft

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Challenge Design to tackle large-scale, systemic challenges in society.
Change Integrate Artificial Intelligence (AI) with Human Intelligence at scale—Hybrid Intelligence (HI).
Impact Enable designers, domain experts, and societal stakeholders to collaborate with AI for informing, realising, and evaluating large-scale design interventions

Job description

TU Delft is a top tier university and is exceedingly active in the field of Artificial intelligence. The mission of the Design at Scale (D@S) Lab is to bring together TU-Delft expertise in Design and Computer Science to establish a centre of excellence in Hybrid Intelligence for Societal-Scale Design. Hybrid Intelligence can play a key role in reducing the complexity of design for large-scale societal problems by orchestrating large-scale design activities involving people, data and machines. This is achieved by informing effective design interventions, predicting the impact of design interventions, monitoring and learning from the implementation of design interventions, and adapting design interventions over time to maximise their impact.

Designers increasingly aim to tackle systemic challenges in society (e.g., health and wellbeing, climate action, mobility, inclusiveness, etc.). This requires new design methods and tools that operate at societal scale and enable designers to effectively involve large numbers of stakeholders and harness large amounts of data to analyse complex social systems and assess the longitudinal impact of design interventions. In particular, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted shortcomings of current design approaches which remain limited in scope, involving small groups of design experts and users across relatively short time frames. Hybrid Intelligence (HI)—the integration of Artificial Intelligence and Human Intelligence at scale—bears immense potential for transforming and scaling up Design, to enable designers to effectively tackle complex societal problems.

In total, D@S lab offers 4 PhD positions: 2 PhD positions with a Design profile, and 2 PhD positions with a Computer Science profile. In this call, we are looking for the following Computer Science profile positions:

  • Human-AI Interaction for Design at Scale

While AI systems offer computational powers that vastly transcend human capabilities, the impact of AI systems on human behaviour remains largely unexplored. To harness the virtues of AI in a manner that is beneficial and useful in design contexts, it is essential to bridge this crucial gap. The aim of the research on this PhD project is to develop principles of human-AI interaction answering research questions such as how system behaviour conforms to human understanding of various tasks and how to best explain system behaviour to human users and support decision-making. You will carry out interdisciplinary research with a particular focus on conversational crowd computing approaches that engage large groups of people through conversational interfaces. This research lies at the intersection of HCI, design, and Artificial Intelligence and has a strong emphasis on the combination of technological prototyping and empirical research.

  • Human-in-the-Loop AI for Design at Scale

AI systems are dominated by machine-learned models that often capture biases from the training data, generating undesired outcomes with safety, ethical, and societal concerns across applications in different contexts. For such systems to best serve users, domain experts, and designers, it is essential to elicit from relevant stakeholders their requirements, knowledge, and values, and to test and improve the systems accordingly. The research on this PhD project aims at developing guidelines and workflows for probing needs from design stakeholders and developing computational methods for testing AI system behaviour against such needs and improving AI systems by integrating human intelligence. You are expected to work in an interdisciplinary research team on real-world use cases. This research lies at the intersection of HCI, Design, and Artificial Intelligence, and has a strong focus on the combination of user research and system design


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


  • An MSc degree in an applied sciences field relevant to the PhD research described above and demonstrated competencies in one or more of these domains: AI, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Design, Computer/Data science, or another relevant field.
  • Strong interest and experience in conducting empirical research (e.g., user studies) and familiarity with qualitative and quantitative methods and an understanding of user-centred design methods
  • A proven record and interest in further developing your problem-solving, programming, analytical, web/mobile software design and development skills.
  • Proficient in written and verbal English communication
  • Affinity with guiding and teaching students
  • Ability to work in a team, take initiative, obtain results, be systematic and communicative.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 5 jaar.

TU Delft offers DAI-Lab PhD-candidates a 5-year contract (as opposed to the normal 4-years), with an official go/no go progress assessment after one year. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2395 per month in the first year to € 3217 in the fifth 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 and aim to be as inclusive as possible (see our Code of Conduct). Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale.

Challenge. Change. Impact! 


Faculty Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science

The Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS) brings together three disciplines - electrical engineering, mathematics and computer science. Combined, they reinforce each other and are the driving force behind the technology we use in our daily lives. Technology such as the electricity grid, which our faculty is helping to make future-proof. We are also working on a world in which humans and computers reinforce each other. We are mapping out disease processes using single cell data, and using mathematics to simulate gigantic ash plumes after a volcanic eruption. There is plenty of room here for ground-breaking research. We educate innovative engineers and have excellent labs and facilities that underline our strong international position. In total, more than 1,100 employees and 4,000 students work and study in this innovative environment.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science.

The D@S lab is a TU Delft Artificial Intelligence Lab, where experts in the fundamentals of AI work with experts in AI challenges in a shared lab. As a PhD candidate, you will work with at least 2 academic members of staff and 3 other PhD candidates, 2 of which will share their expertise on Design, as members of D@S lab and the Faculty of Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering (IDE). In total, TU Delft will establish 24 DAI-Labs, where a group of 48 Tenure Trackers and 96 PhD candidates will have the opportunity to push the boundaries of science using AI. You will be a member of the thriving DAI-Lab community that fosters cross-fertilization among individuals with different expertise and across different disciplines.

Each team is driven by research questions, which arise from scientific and societal challenges, and contribute to the development and execution of domain specific education. You will receive a 5-year contract and you will be deployed for AI-related education for the usual teaching effort for PhD students in the faculty plus an additional 20%. The extra year, compared to the usual 4-year contracts, accounts for the 20% additional AI, Data and Digitalisation education-related activities. All team members will have many opportunities for self-development.

As a member of the D@S Lab, you will work in the Department of Software Technology (ST), Faculty of EEMCS, and collaborate with 2 more PhD candidates from the Department of Sustainable Design Engineering (SDE), Faculty of IDE, TU Delft.

The ST Department contributes both to the foundations of software and computer systems, and to the understanding of the operation of such systems. Therefore, its research approach is both fundamental--designing algorithms and abstractions, developing new concepts and theories, and identifying principles, as well as experimental--engineering and analysing the behaviour of actual systems. It is this combination of design, engineering, and analysis that characterises the research of the ST department. 

The SDE Department develops scientific and practical knowledge on the intersections of technology, design, engineering and sustainability. Our mission is to develop new design methods and tools to enable the design of future technology-intensive and sustainable products and services. The expertise of SDE covers a broad spectrum and includes Internet of the Things, Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, Human-Computer-Interaction, Robotics, smart materials, bio materials, 3D/4D printing, sustainability and the circular economy.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • 32—38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • TUD00853


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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