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PhD Position in Vibration-based Assessment of Concrete Structures After Fire

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven - Department of Civil Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD, Professional Doctorate, International Doctorate
Location: Leuven - Belgium
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: Not Specified
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 15th December 2021
Closes: 30th January 2022
Reference: BAP-2021-826

An adequate and efficient assessment of structural safety after extreme events such as fire, an earthquake or flooding, is essential for increasing the resilience and sustainability of our infrastructure. Unfortunately, current practice in post-fire structural condition assessment is far from this goal, as the many uncertainties associated with fire exposure and residual mechanical properties are not sufficiently taken into account, and appropriate non-destructive assessment methodologies are lacking. As a result, refurbishment and demolition are often needlessly pursued. In a new joint research project, funded by the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO), the Department of Civil Engineering of KU Leuven and the Department of Structural Engineering and Building Materials of Ghent University are joining forces for developing a new, much more rational post-fire assessment methodology.

This PhD project focuses on the non-destructive assessment of the residual load-bearing capacity of reinforced concrete structural elements and connections after a fire event. First, a dedicated approach to the experimental identification of damage-sensitive features will be developed based on the combination of promising new fiber-optic sensing techniques with advanced signal processing, system identification and machine learning methods. Next, a methodology for creating a suitable digital twin of the structure in post-fire condition will be developed, based on structural and thermal finite element modeling. The accuracy of the digital twin will then be improved by incorporating the experimentally identified information via Bayesian updating. The new methodologies will be thoroughly validated via laboratory fire tests and demonstrated via in-situ showcase problems. 

Profile

The successful applicant is soon to obtain or has obtained a MSc degree (or equivalent) in Civil Engineering, Structural Engineering, Mechanical Engineering or a closely related field with very good to excellent grades. Next to this, he or she must have a solid background and keen interest in structural dynamics and finite element analysis, strong communication, programming, and problem solving skills, proficiency in English, the ability to meet the admission requirements of the KU Leuven Arenberg Doctoral School and the motivation to successfully complete the PhD project within 4 years.

Offer

This PhD project will involve close collaboration between KU Leuven and Ghent University and therefore offers the unique opportunity to obtain a double PhD degree from both universities. The main host institution will be KU Leuven, which offers a collaborative and internationally oriented research environment at one of the leading engineering faculties worldwide. Regular secondments are foreseen at Ghent University. The successful candidate will be jointly supervised by Prof. Edwin Reynders (KU Leuven), Prof. Geert Lombaert (KU Leuven) and Prof. Ruben Van Coile (UGent), who offer complementary research expertise in numerical and experimental structural mechanics, structural dynamics and fire safety engineering. 

Application

Applications should include (1) a motivation letter describing why the applicant is interested in this particular position and how it fits into his or her career plans, (2) a full cv showing how the applicant’s profile fits the requirements, (3) a complete transcript of records to date, (4) a proof of proficiency in English (TOEFL, IELTS or native speaker) or Dutch, and (5) an electronic copy of the MSc thesis or a similar research project report (if already available).  Applications may only be submitted online via the link below, where additional information is available. The submission deadline is 30 January 2022.

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