An integrated static-dynamic structural optimization approach for footbridges

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
March 12, 2023
Offerd Salary:Negotiation
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Working Time:Negotigation
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An integrated static-dynamic structural optimization approach for


(ref. BAP-2023-75)

Last modification : Thursday, February 9, 2023

Within the frame of the research project “An integrated static-dynamic structural optimization approach for the design of footbridges”, the Structural Mechanics Section of the Department of Civil Engineering and the Architectural Engineering research group of the Department of Architecture have a vacancy for one PhD student. We are looking for a PhD student with a MSc degree in civil or architectural engineering and an excellent background in structural mechanics. The PhD student will be hosted in both research groups which have their own focus, yet sufficient overlap for successful collaboration. Research in the Structural Mechanics Section (https: // www. of the Department of Civil Engineering focuses on the static and dynamic analysis of structures and is structured along six research lines: vibrations in the built environment, vibration based structural identification and evaluation, building acoustics, shape and topology optimization, computational structural engineering and human-induced vibration of civil engineering structures. Research in the Structural Optimization research group of the Architectural Engineering Section of the Department of Architecture focuses on gradient-based size, shape, and topology optimization of structures (https: // The Departments of Architecture and Civil Engineering are nicely located in and around the Arenberg Castle on Campus Arenberg of KU Leuven in Heverlee, one kilometre from Leuven's city center.

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This project aims at the development of an integrated structural optimization approach for footbridges that simultaneously considers static and dynamic loads. In current practice, footbridges are generally designed based on static loading considerations only. Since these static loads are relatively low, they can be made very slender, which makes them susceptible to human induced vibration. For this reason, a verification of the vibration levels is needed once the static design has been elaborated. When the levels are too high, the problem is mostly solved by adding tuned mass dampers (TMDs). Although the original design of the structure is largely preserved, some modifications are needed to accommodate these units, while their tuning also requires a testing of the footbridge after it has been built. The primary objective of this project is to develop an integrated design optimization methodology that incorporates static as well as dynamic design criteria. For small or moderate spans, such a procedure should allow determining a design which simultaneously satisfies the static and dynamic design requirements, avoiding ad hoc modifications after the static design. In order to achieve this goal, we will build on recent developments in structural optimization, remediate shortcomings in current analysis procedures for human induced vibrations, and take into account the recent trend where composite materials are become increasingly popular for footbridge design.

The research will be carried out by two PhD students who are expected to closely collaborate. The first PhD student PhD1 will focus on the development of the integrated design methodology for steel footbridges. The second PhD student PhD2, will focus on the development of the integrated design methodology for composite footbridges, including the planned experiments. The present vacancy is for PhD student PhD1, PhD student PhD2 is recruited at Ghent University, partner in this research project.

  • We are looking for a a candidate with a MSc degree in Civil or Architectural engineering, obtained not earlier than 2019, and having an excellent background in structural mechanics.
  • Interested candidates should be motivated to complete a PhD within four years, starting as from 1 September 2023.
  • More information on becoming a PhD student at KU Leuven and living in Leuven can be found at https: // www., https: // (Leuven Arenberg Doctoral School) and https: // www. Depending on their background (MSc diploma, research experience), students may first need to pass a pre-doctoral test, e.g. selected courses (12 ECTS) and research work with presentation (3 ECTS), prior to being allowed to the PhD program.
  • Offer
  • A remuneration package competitive with industry standard in Belgium, a country with a high quality of life and excellent health care system.
  • An opportunity to pursue a PhD in Civil Engineering in a 4-year trajectory, in a stimulating and ambitious research environment with a strong track record in the research topic.
  • Ample occasions to develop yourself in a scientific and/or an industrial direction. Besides opportunities offered by the research group, further doctoral training for PhD candidates is provided in the framework of the KU Leuven Arenberg Doctoral School (https: //, known for its strong focus on both future scientists and scientifically trained professionals who will valorize their doctoral expertise and competences in a non-academic context. More information on the training opportunities can be found via the following link: https: // .
  • A stay in a vibrant environment in the hearth of Europe. The university has approximately 50,000 students and is located in Leuven, a town of approximately 100,000 inhabitants, located close to Brussels (25km), and 20 minutes by train from Brussels International Airport. This strategic positioning and the strong presence of the university, international research centers, and industry, lead to a welcoming environment with ample opportunities for social, cultural and sports activities. The mixture of cultures and research fields are some of the ingredients making the university of Leuven the most innovative university in Europe (https: // leuven-once-again-tops-reuters-ranking-of-europes-most-innovative- universities). Further information can be found on the website of the university: https: // www. .
  • Interested?

    For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Geert Lombaert, tel.: +32 16 32 17 72, mail: [email protected] or Prof. dr. ir. Mattias Schevenels, tel.: +32 16 32 13 69, mail: [email protected]

    As part of your application, we expect the following: (1) motivation letter, (2) curriculum vitae (3) list of publications if relevant (please do not add these publications), (4) transcript of records (BSc and MSc degrees), (5) copy of diplomas (BSc and MSc degrees), (6) proof of proficiency in English (TOEFL or IETLS certificate or equivalent proof), and (7) contact details of three persons who can provide a reference on our request (so please do not include reference letters, only provide contact details).

    We request a TOEFL ibt total score of 94, with no section scores below 22, or an IELTS overall band score of 7.0, with no band scores below 6.5.

    Pre-selected candidates will be invited for an online interview.

    KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at [email protected]

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