PhD Position Methodologies for Analysis Testing and Certification of Thermoplastic Composite Aerostructures

PhD Position Methodologies for Analysis Testing and Certification of Thermoplastic Composite Aerostructures

Published Deadline Location
9 Nov 8 Dec Delft

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Join the team that will develop breakthrough technologies for ultra-efficient aircraft development.

Job description

Aerospace structures made of thermoplastic composite materials have various advantages compared to thermoset composites including the possibility of joining them by welding, which enables a more efficient production of aircrafts. These composites have also higher fracture energy, better impact resistance and are generally easier to recycle. Nonetheless, the structural performance of thermoplastic composite structures is less well characterized compared to thermoset structures, particularly on welded parts as found on the fuselage, wings or empennage of composite aircrafts.

The aim of this PhD project is to develop and implement numerical and experimental techniques to characterize the performance of welded thermoplastic composite structures. The project involves establishing the limits of these structures (by fracture and/or buckling) based on Finite Element simulations of damage onset and damage propagation, taking the welding into account. The work involves verification and validation steps with experimental work on welded panel components, in collaboration with industrial partners. The goal is to investigate the effect of material variability and possible manufacturing defects on the overall strength and fatigue limits of thermoplastic welded structures. In turn, these data will be used for quantification of uncertainty and linked to a path towards certification by analysis.

The PhD project will be conducted at the department of Aerospace Materials and Structures (ASM) of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering (AE) and will be embedded within the Lightweight Composites and Structures (LCS) project of the "Luchtvaart in Transitie" (LiT) initiative, which brings together a variety of companies and knowledge institutes to develop materials, production technology and structures for ultra-efficient aircraft. This large-scale initiative of the Dutch growth fund is aligned with the mission of the ASM department to make aviation and spaceflight more sustainable by developing novel structures and materials that have a smaller environmental footprint by using less energy and enabling easier recycling, while simultaneously researching how to make structures smarter, lighter and safer, to support the transition to new sources of energy.


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


We are seeking for an excellent candidate who has knowledge on aerospace composite materials and structures with an interest on modelling and simulation of damage using numerical methods as well as an affinity for experimental activities of testing specimens for fracture strength under quasi-static and cyclic conditions. Previous experience in one or both aspects is relevant, as well as the desire to learn about the aspect that a candidate may not be familiar with.

In particular, we look for a candidate with:  

  • A MSc degree (or a four-year BSc) in an appropriate discipline, including Aerospace, Mechanical, Civil or Electrical , Materials Science Engineering
  • Experience with either (1) finite element simulations of damage in structures or (2) experimental testing of structural damage (preferably with both)
  • A curiosity-driven mindset and a strong motivation of conducting independent research
  • Inclination for team-work and effective communication in an international environment
  • Desire to publish scientific articles and participate in project meetings and international conferences

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 € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 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 a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. 

For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service. This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.


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 Aerospace Engineering

The Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at Delft University of Technology is one of the world’s most highly ranked (and most comprehensive) research, education and innovation communities devoted entirely to aerospace engineering. More than 200 science staff, around 270 PhD candidates and close to 3000 BSc and MSc students apply aerospace engineering disciplines to address the global societal challenges that threaten us today, climate change without doubt being the most important. Our focal subjects: sustainable aerospace, big data and artificial intelligence, bio-inspired engineering and smart instruments and systems. Working at the faculty means working together. With partners in other faculties, knowledge institutes, governments and industry, both aerospace and non-aerospace. Working in field labs and innovation hubs on our university campus and beyond. 

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • 38—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • TUD04590


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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