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PhD 1/3 Futureproof Tunnels: Develop a monitoring strategy to continuously monitor tunnel deformations, without hindering tunnel operations.
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Do you want to obtain a PhD while researching Future Proof Tunnels? Developing a monitoring strategy to continuously monitor tunnel deformations, without hindering tunnel operations?

Job description

The Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences has started a research cooperation with Centrum Ondergronds Bouwen (COB), the Dutch Center for underground space technology and underground space use.

The Futureproof Tunnels research program looks into the challenges posed by aging underground infrastructure and the upcoming renovations of (mostly immersed) tunnels in soft soil conditions.

The current standard in monitoring tunnels does not provide enough information to analyze the deformation and structural behavior of immersed tunnels. This stems in part from the assumption that deformation during operation would be limited to small-scale vertical deformations caused by settlements. However, the limited data available shows that tunnels undergo significant deformations in multiple directions, both vertically and horizontally resulting in local rotations. Accurate and continuous monitoring of tunnels is necessary to gain insights into the way tunnels deform and which external factors play a role. This project takes on the challenge of monitoring the tunnel deformation and establishing all external load factors and detailed subsoil data. In total three are three PhD positions available.

In PhD project 1 you will develop a monitoring strategy to continuously monitor tunnel deformations, without hindering tunnel operations. This monitoring strategy will be applied at several immersed tunnels. In this project the monitoring data will be collected for the various tunnels, stored in a semantic wiki (or unified database) and used for structural behavior analysis. The monitoring data will then be used to predict the long-term behavior of the tunnels and its impact on their structural safety.

You are expected to assist in the monitoring program as well as in the development of the database and analysis methods to transform deformation measurements into structural safety assessments.


Applicants should possess a master’s degree in Civil Engineering or a related discipline. An aptitude for experimental testing and interpretation of data is essential. This includes an interest in the design and application of monitoring systems.

You are also expected to contribute to the monitoring program and data analysis; hence, a strong background in soil mechanics and/or structural mechanics is highly appreciated.

In this role it is expected that you cooperate closely with other members of the research team and with the COB expert committees that will guide the project in conjunction with the university supervisors.

Communication skills are important, and applicants should have a high level of proficiency in written and spoken Dutch and English.

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

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 € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 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 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.

TU Delft (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 depletion, urbanisation and the availability of clean water, conducted in close cooperation with a wide range of research institutions. CEG is convinced that Open Science helps to achieve our goals 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.

Within the department of Geoscience and Engineering the Section of Geo-Engineering has 9 full-time and 6 part-time academic staff, and 30 PhD and Post-Doctoral researchers. Areas of expertise include soil mechanics, dykes and embankments, foundation engineering, underground space technology, engineering geology, and geo-environmental engineering. There are extensive experimental laboratory facilities, including large-scale soil-structure interaction testing facilities and a geotechnical centrifuge, as well as excellent computing facilities including access to national High Performance Computing networks.

Within the Department of Materials, Mechanics, Management & Design the Section of Materials and Environment has 9 full-time academic staff, 35 PhD and Post-doctoral researchers. Areas of expertise include micromechanics of construction materials, modelling of material behaviour, material health monitoring and durability and sustainability aspects of materials. The section has excellent laboratory facilities for high level material research located in the Microlab.

Additional information

You can check out the other vacancies of this project here:

  • Identifying the main environmental causes for deformation and to develop realistic 3D subsurface models
  • Monitoring, explaining and predicting degradation

More information about Centrum Ondergronds Bouwen (COB) and the research program Futureproof Tunnels is available in Dutch and English.

For more information about the vacancies with , please contact Dr. Wout Broere (Geo-Engineering); email:

Application procedure

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply before 19 February 2023 via the application button and upload:

A motivation letter that briefly describes why you apply for this position, your research interests, and your fit to Geo-Engineering and/or Materials and Environment.

A detailed CV.

Names and email addresses from at least 2 references.

  • You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.
  • A pre-Employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.
  • Acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated.

Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences








€ 2.541,00 - € 3.247,00


University graduate



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