PhD Operations Research & Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Road Transport

Eindhoven University of Technology
July 02, 2023
Offerd Salary:€2,541
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Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Full time
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PhD Operations Research & Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Road




Irène Curie Fellowship



Industrial Engineering and Innovation Sciences

Institutes and others

EAISI - Eindhoven Artificial Intelligence Systems Institute



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Reference number


Job description

At TU/e, we solicit applications for PhD students in an industry-driven project. With our industry partner, we investigate more realistic, but also easily usable planning tools for mid-sized transport companies. At the core of all algorithms and planning tools stands the possible increase of sustainability, e.g., by reducing empty mileage and unused capacity.

Project description

With this project, we aim to develop planning solutions using both traditional methods from operations research and artificial intelligence. The developed tools will have the potential to make road transport both more efficient, more resilient, and more sustainable, and will also address driver shortages, ongoing electrification and automation of road transport, and collaboration and competition in the transportation market.

During an early phase of the project, the students will jointly get to know the industry partner and the challenges of such medium-sized road transport companies. Further, the students will become acquainted with the daily job of planners, and will perform some preliminary analyses. We will also use this time to break down the project into multiple smaller research projects.

Some exemplary research projects include:

  • Learning the planners' decision-making process: We will use historic data on decisions (using inverse optimization) and/or experiments to elicit information about the planning process, such as informal soft constraints but also considered future events.
  • Improving the interaction between planners and tools: In their day-to-day work, planners face a multitude of messages coming in (e.g., existing inefficiencies, new orders, or delays of loads requiring replanning) with different urgency and impact. Using experiments, we will investigate how different communication measures increase or decrease the planners efficiency.
  • Developing next-day planning algorithms: Transport companies must coordinate not only their trucks, but also their loads and their drivers. All three are subject to a multitude of regulations (e.g., country- specific vehicle permits, driver rest time). We will develop algorithms for next-day planning using efficient algorithms such as branch-price-and- cut as well as heuristics.
  • Developing dynamic planning algorithms: We will combine classic OR techniques with reinforcement learning methods to allow real-time planning of trucks, drivers, and loads.
  • TU/e and the team

    The PhD students will be supervised by dr. Albert H. Schrotenboer, dr. Layla Martin, and prof. dr. Tom Van Woensel. Albert and Layla are both assistant professors with a clear focus on planning and operating transport and logistics, and Tom is a full professor for freight logistics.

    Our industry partner is an international logistics service provider employing more than 400 people headquartered in Utrecht (around one hour by car from TU/e, costs covered). They offer transport, flexible storage and logistics optimization, and act as a transporter (2PL), freight forwarder (3PL) and handle the complete management of logistics transport activities (4PL). Our industry partner strives to offer the best possible sustainable transport solutions based on honesty and respect for people and society.

    The project, the supervisors, and eventually also the PhD students are embedded in TU/e's Operations, Planning, Accounting, and Control (OPAC) group, the Eindhoven AI systems institute (EAISI) of TU/e, and the European Supply Chain Forum (ESCF). OPAC uses methods from operations research and operations management on a wide variety of problems, and currently hosts around 50 PhD students from various backgrounds. EAISI brings together all AI- related activities throughout TU/e and will support the PhD students by providing an enriching environment. ESCF works on fostering collaborations between industry and academia, among others in their program lines “ESCF Circular” and “AI planner for the future”.

    Target profile

    We are looking for PhD students with a keen interest making transport more sustainable. Students shall have prior experience in optimization, operations research, decision support, and/or artificial intelligence, for example proven by a suitable master degree (e.g., Industrial Engineering, Econometrics, Applied Mathematics, Computer Science). Ideally, applicants have already finished their master degree or are expected to finish early 2023 to allow a project start before summer 2023.

    Candidates must have experience in programming, using languages such as C++ or Java. Ideally, candidates have experience with mathematical modeling and implementation in CPLEX or Gurobi, implementing efficient heuristics, and/or machine learning.

    Due to our industry collaboration, we particularly look for outgoing, communicative students with willingness to learn the Dutch language. In particular during the first phase of the project, the students will spend several days per week at our industry partner in Utrecht.

    Job requirements
  • A Master's degree in Operations Research, Industrial Engineering, Econometrics, Applied Mathematics, Computer Science, or a related field.
  • Strong analytical and mathematical skills.
  • Programming experience in object oriented languages such as C++ or Java.
  • Outgoing and communicative personality.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills in English, and willingness to learn Dutch to converse with our industry partner.
  • 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 27 (min. €2,541 max. €3,247).
  • 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.

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

    How to get in touch

    We are happy to answer any remaining questions via email (;

    Visit our website for more information about the application process or the conditions of employment. You can also contact HR Services (


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

  • A short letter of motivation.
  • A curriculum vitae.
  • An example of scholarly writing (e.g., seminar papers, theses).
  • A research idea (approx. 1 page) in line with the overall project detailing the tackled problem and the suggested methodology and approach.
  • 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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