Two PhD Positions: Big Data Analytics and AI in Port Performance Optimization – Infrastructure State and Infrastructure Use

Two PhD Positions: Big Data Analytics and AI in Port Performance Optimization – Infrastructure State and Infrastructure Use

Published Deadline Location
20 Dec 28 Jan Delft

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Job description

Ports serve as critical nodes in the global logistics network, acting as key facilitators of international trade and commerce. The efficient operation of ports is key for ensuring the timely and secure movement of goods across the world. Ports play a pivotal role in connecting nations, enabling the smooth flow of imports and exports, and contributing significantly to economic development. The performance of ports directly impacts the competitiveness of regions and nations in the global marketplace. Efficient port operations not only reduce transportation costs but also enhance supply chain reliability, fostering economic growth and prosperity. The infrastructure of ports, including breakwaters, access channels, turning circles, harbor basins, terminals, quay walls and equipment, and physical environmental aspects like bed levels, water levels, currents, waves, and wind, profoundly influence the way ports operate. Recognizing the interplay between infrastructure, the physical environment, and efficiency is crucial for optimizing port performance.

PhD position 1: Big Data Analytics and AI in Port Performance Optimization – Infrastructure State.

As a PhD candidate for Infrastructure State, you will play an important role in exploring the strategic dimensions of port infrastructure through the lens of data availability and advanced AI models. The core objective of this position is to identify added value for port applications at the strategic level. You will tackle a range of complex problems, with a primary focus on port accessibility and dredging strategies. This entails a nuanced examination of how maintaining different bed levels can impact port performance, optimize dredging costs, integrate with tidal windows, and adhere to priority rules to achieve a desired service level.

The scope of your PhD extends to critical areas such as asset management, infrastructure monitoring, predictive maintenance, infrastructure resilience, space requirements, and infrastructure investments. Leveraging tools like satellite imagery, you will contribute to shaping the strategic landscape of port management. This role represents an exciting opportunity to be at the heart of insightful research, influencing the future of port infrastructure management through innovative approaches and advanced technologies.

PhD position 2: Big Data Analytics and AI in Port Performance Optimization – Infrastructure Use.

As a PhD candidate for Infrastructure Use, your role will be instrumental in exploring the operational dimensions of port infrastructure, leveraging the wealth of available data and advanced AI models. The primary goal of this position is to uncover added value for port applications at the operational level. Your focus will be on addressing diverse challenges, with a central emphasis on Port Nautical Safety. This involves the analysis of moving vessels, requiring the use of AIS and other sources of data, and translating this information into insightful assessments of trips and loads.

The scope of your PhD will extend to crucial operational aspects such as port call scheduling and queue management, optimizing logistics chain performance in terms of trips and capacity, and implementing real-time monitoring with anomaly detection mechanisms. By integrating AI techniques, your work will contribute to enhancing the safety, efficiency, and overall performance of operational aspects within the port environment. This position offers a unique opportunity to engage in cutting-edge research, influencing the practical applications that drive operational excellence in port and waterways management. 


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


We are looking for excellent candidates who are passionate about Port applications, are eager to apply state-of-the-art analysis techniques in a real-world practical context, and have a proven interdisciplinary track record. These two positions require extensive expertise in artificial intelligence and working with big datasets. In particular, we look for candidates with:

  • An MSc degree in Civil Engineering, Maritime Engineering, Transport and Infrastructure, or any other related field
  • Advanced skills in applying AI models and big data analytics to diverse data sources
  • Extensive expertise in scripting with Python
  • Affinity with port-related applications, dredging, and infrastructure maintenance (PhD position 1)
  • Affinity with port-related applications, nautical traffic, and safety issues (PhD position 2)
  • Strong problem-solving abilities for complex issues in port infrastructure state (PhD position 1) and port infrastructure use (PhD position 2)
  • Affinity with agent-based and discrete-event simulation is a plus
  • Affinity with AIS data is a plus
  • Experience in setting up databases in a plus
  • Ability to work in a collaborative, multidisciplinary environment both with scientific partners and stakeholders from industry

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. More specifically, TOEFL or IELTS English proficiency tests are required for all applicants except those whose MSc program was taught in English. The minimum requirement of a TOEFL score is 100 and IELTS is 7.0. 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 Civil Engineering & Geosciences

The Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences (CEG) is committed to outstanding international research and education in the field of civil engineering, applied earth sciences, traffic and transport, water technology, and delta technology. Our research feeds into our educational programmes and covers societal challenges such as climate change, energy transition, resource availability, urbanisation and clean water. Our research projects are conducted in close cooperation with a wide range of research institutions. CEG is convinced of the importance of open science and supports its scientists in integrating open science in their research practice. The Faculty of CEG comprises 28 research groups in the following seven departments: Materials Mechanics Management & Design, Engineering Structures, Geoscience and Engineering, Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Transport & Planning, Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • TUD04855


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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