PhD on Designing for Dynamics in Vulnerability

Eindhoven University of Technology
July 14, 2024
Offerd Salary:€2,770
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PhD on Designing for Dynamics in Vulnerability

This fully-funded 4-year PhD project at the Department of Industrial Design aims to examine how the dynamic degrees of vulnerability shape and influence the design process of technology to support users in sensitive settings.



Irène Curie Fellowship



Industrial Design



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Job description

Specific individuals or groups experience adverse effects or exclusion when interacting with technology due to physical or cognitive impairments, socioeconomic status, cultural differences, or health conditions. In this context, such users are often labeled as ‘vulnerable' based on characterizations or general representations of these specific user groups (e.g., diagnosis of dementia). However, these representations might not reflect how such users view themselves, yet strongly influence the design outcome. In addition, there is still a reported lack of understanding of what vulnerability entails for designers and technology developers in general and how design or technology can support overcoming vulnerability in sensitive settings.

This fully-funded 4-year PhD project at the Department of Industrial Design will address different cases of sensitive settings that are strongly characterized by dynamic changes of vulnerability, such as neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., Alzheimer's or Parkinson's) or specific sudden life situations (e.g., bereavement). Participatory design methodologies will be utilized to actively involve users in the design process and explore their perception and self-observation of vulnerability. Research through design methodologies will be employed in which tangible design artifacts will be co- created, developed, and evaluated to cater to dynamic levels of vulnerability.

The main goals for this PhD project are to:

  • Identify pathways to vulnerability and investigate how different degrees of vulnerability influence and shape the design process through participatory design methods;
  • Map and advance existing design guidelines and methodologies for creating technology solutions that are inclusive and accessible to users with dynamic and unique needs;
  • Develop tangible design artifacts for the specific use cases and evaluate the impact in real-life scenarios;
  • Facilitate transdisciplinary knowledge exchange and learning communities between different fields of sensitive settings through dissemination and international network activities.
  • This PhD project aims to make several contributions:

  • Advance the notion of vulnerability as a dynamic state or variable that can purposefully shape and influence the design process to better represent users with specific needs in the design outcome;
  • Generate insights into the role of technology in addressing the dynamics of vulnerability in health-related societal challenges and improving the quality of life for vulnerable communities;
  • Provide implications for policy and design practice in designing technology solutions to create a positive social impact and contribute to building a more inclusive and equitable society.
  • Job requirements
  • A master's degree (or an equivalent university degree) in Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction, Design, Psychology, or Software Engineering.
  • Experience or interest in researching and designing for sensitive settings.
  • Experience in participatory design methodologies and qualitative research.
  • Experience in designing and prototyping tangible design artefacts or interactive systems, as evidenced in a portfolio.
  • Ability to work in transdisciplinary settings and interested in collaborating with societal partners.
  • Motivated to develop teaching skills and coach students.
  • Strong communication and academic writing skills, including proficiency in written and spoken English (C1).
  • Conditions of employment

    A meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious university, in an interdisciplinary setting and within an international network. You will work on a beautiful, green campus within walking distance of the central train station. In addition, we offer you:

  • Full-time employment for four years, with an intermediate evaluation (go/no-go) after nine months. You will spend 10% of your employment on teaching tasks.
  • Salary and benefits (such as a pension scheme, paid pregnancy and maternity leave, partially paid parental leave) in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, scale P (min. €2,770 max. €3,539).
  • A year-end bonus of 8.3% and annual vacation pay of 8%.
  • High-quality training programs and other support to grow into a self- aware, autonomous scientific researcher. At TU/e we challenge you to take charge of your own learning process.
  • An excellent technical infrastructure, on-campus children's day care and sports facilities.
  • An allowance for commuting, working from home and internet costs.
  • A Staff Immigration Team and a tax compensation scheme (the 30% facility) for international candidates.
  • Information and application

    About us Eindhoven University of Technology is an internationally top-ranking university in the Netherlands that combines scientific curiosity with a hands- on attitude. Our spirit of collaboration translates into an open culture and a top-five position in collaborating with advanced industries. Fundamental knowledge enables us to design solutions for the highly complex problems of today and tomorrow.

    TU/e is located in a highly tech-driven region in the Netherlands, known as the ‘Brainport'. This region is internationally recognized as a top technology area with a special focus on the integration of design and technology. The department of Industrial Design at TU/e is internationally recognized for its scientific research on the design of systems with emerging technologies in a societal context. We excel at the acquisition and execution of projects where “integration of emerging technology into everyday life” and “application of technology in a societal context” play a major role.

    Curious to hear more about what it's like as a PhD candidate at TU/e? Please view the video.

    Information Do you recognize yourself in this profile and would you like to know more? Please contact the hiring manager Maarten Houben, [email protected] .

    Visit our website for more information about the application process or the conditions of employment. You can also contact HR Services, email [email protected].

    Are you inspired and would like to know more about working at TU/e? Please visit our career page.

    Application We invite you to submit a complete application by using the apply button. The application should include a:

  • Cover letter in which you describe your motivation and qualifications for the position, with a link to your design/research portfolio.
  • Curriculum vitae, including a list of your publications and the contact information of three references.
  • We look forward to receiving your application and will screen it as soon as possible. The vacancy will remain open until the position is filled.

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