The Netherlands is a world leader in agricultural technology and the second largest exporter of food worldwide. This is good for the Dutch economy, but in addition to its economic success, the Netherlands also faces major challenges in the field of sustainability. The current farming techniques lead to environmental pollution, resource depletion, loss of biodiversity and deterioration of soil quality. Moreover, there are less and less skilled workers available. Today, more and more innovative solutions are being developed to make agricultural processes more environmentally friendly. But how do you decide what the best solution is for the planet and the climate? How can you continue to feed the world without harming the environment? The goal of the SYNERGIA research programme (SYNERGIA stands for 'SYstem change for New Ecology-based and Resource efficient Growth with high tech In Agriculture') is to develop and integrate fundamental knowledge from the biological, technical, and social sciences for the next generation of sustainable agricultural systems, based on the new concept of 'technology-4-ecology-based farming' (T4E-farming). See also related work on Digital twins in agri-food (https://doi.org/10.1080/27685241.2021.1989269).
We are looking for a candidate with a design or engineering background who will work on the NWO funded SYNERGIA project to research, design and develop a comprehensive vision of Digital Twins in future sustainable agri-food. Aiming beyond eco-efficiency, the project has the ambition to investigate how digital twins may support alternative sustainable approaches that increase biodiversity and enrich the soil, such as inter-cropping, which involves cultivating a mix of various crops to interact much like a natural system. As a first step towards that aim, the EngD will dive into the (anticipated) needs of stakeholders through facilitating active participation and co-creation and actively engages in the intended and unintended consequences through designing and developing (aspects of) such technologies and futuring techniques. The focus of research spans identifying, collecting, combining, and using data, representation and use of knowledge created in and with digital twins and implementation of digital twins in particular contexts of use. The candidate will be embedded in the various activities of the SYNERGIA project and work in the Digital Twins lab of the Eindhoven AI Systems Institute.
Goal 1: Getting to know the target group, mapping out their challenges and needs for AI-supported data sensemaking and control in the context of current and future agri-food processes.
Goal 2: In co-creation with them, design accessible and meaningful Digital Twinning concepts in the context of the SYNERGIA project.
Goal 3: Design and develop a Digital Twin demonstrator for one of the three research areas of the SYNERGIA project: greenhouse horticulture, arable farming, and dairy farming.
Goal 4: Evaluate the Digital Twin demonstrator with SYNERGIA stakeholders and outline future development opportunities with this target group.
Candidates should have a background in an area related to interaction design (e.g., industrial design, software engineering, human computer interaction, design for business innovation). They need to be creative, entrepreneurial and to have an innovative mind. Candidates will be embedded in a multi-disciplinary team consisting of computer scientists, industrial designers, and business entrepreneurs.
The mission of the HSI program is to train professionals who already have a Master's degree in design or engineering to develop competences in designing and evaluating interactive intelligent and innovative systems, services, and products. The goal is to ensure positive user experiences that support their values and needs. The HSI program is based on design thinking and system thinking, as well as scientifically founded and methodologically sound user-centered and data-driven approaches, paying special attention to the frontier of the complex systems enabled by artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies and its impact on individuals, organizations and society.
In the HSI program, candidates are positioned as designers throughout the program, as the intermediate between market demands and technical possibilities, between user needs and product satisfaction; candidates work on design cases and projects for research, industry, or government supervised by university staff and the host organization; Candidates work on assignments and case studies throughout the program; Candidates with backgrounds in the engineering, behavioral and physical sciences work in small interdisciplinary teams, together with other EngD, PhD, and Master students with different national and cultural backgrounds;
The structure of the program is attached. The design project stretches over two years with a total of 10 to 12 month of effort. The courses are offered once a year and the candidate may decide to take a course during either the first year or the second. Elective courses can be adjusted or replaced if needed. Design cases are one to three month long smaller design or research projects in the context of the research groups. For each individual candidate a Training and Supervision plan of courses, design cases and projects will be developed and followed according to the background of the candidate and the needs from the industry and business.
Examples of positions held by HSI graduates are data designer, ai-system designer, interaction designer, usability engineer, user experience designer, human factor engineer, information architect, manager in innovative businesses, and team leader of these roles.
Information and application
Information about the terms of employment can be found here
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Candidates will be selected based on graduation mark and proficiency at university including consideration of the reputation of the university, relevant experience and skills, writing skills and publications, work experience as well as performance in relevant modeling exercises and interviews.
EngD Program Designing Human-System Interaction
Department of Industrial Design
Eindhoven University of Technology