Trainee - Data Driven Mechanics for Alpine Climate Risks

December 18, 2022
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2022-05567 - Trainee - Data Driven Mechanics for Alpine Climate Risks

Contract type : Internship agreement

Level of qualifications required : Graduate degree or equivalent

Fonction : Internship Research

About the research centre or Inria department

The Inria Grenoble - Rhône-Alpes research center groups together almost 600 people in 22 research teams and 7 research support departments.

Staff is present on three campuses in Grenoble, in close collaboration with other research and higher education institutions (University Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, CEA, INRAE, …), but also with key economic players in the area.

Inria Grenoble - Rhône-Alpes is active in the fields of high-performance computing, verification and embedded systems, modeling of the environment at multiple levels, and data science and artificial intelligence. The center is a top-level scientific institute with an extensive network of international collaborations in Europe and the rest of the world.


TRIPOP is a joint research team of Inria Grenoble Rhône-Alpes and of the Laboratoire Jean Kuntzmann and started in January 2018 as a follow up of the BIPOP team. The team is mainly concerned by the modelling, the simulation and the control of nonsmooth dynamical systems. Nonsmooth dynamics concerns the study of the time evolution of systems that are not smooth in the mathematical sense, i.e. systems that are characterized by a lack of differentiability, either of the mappings in their formulations, or of their solutions with respect to time. In mechanics, the main instances of nonsmooth dynamical systems are multibody systems with Signorini's unilateral contact, set-valued (Coulomb-like) friction and impacts, or in continuum mechanics, ideal plasticity, fracture or damage. The members of the team have many years of experience of nonsmooth dynamics modelling together with the development of simulation software. This project will be undertaken as part of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions project LEMMA (Landslide and avalanchE Mechanics with Multiphysical datA), undertaken by TRIPOP team members Dr Nicholas Collins-Craft, Dr Franck Bourrier, and Dr Vincent Acary, in collaboration with Professor Johan Gaume (ETH/WSL). The selected candidate will be integrated in the TRIPOP team for a period of approximately 6 months (the exact start date length and will be tailored to meet the needs of the successful candidate), provided with all necessary resources, and paid a salary of approximately 600 euros/month.


Warmer temperatures are linked with an increase in rockfalls in the high Alps (Keiler et al., 2010), and as such it is expected that as global warming increases, rockfalls at culturally and economically important sites such as the Mont Blanc massif will substantially increase. The underlying physical processes that trigger rockfalls (crack propagation due to freeze–thaw cycles) requires extremely high numerical resolution of the model (on the order of millimetres and milliseconds), which is impractical at the scale of a mountainside. One way to try and resolve this is to turn to multi-scale methods, but these typically remain very computationally demanding and introduce substantial modelling assumptions into the process. A recent technique that has been developed that aims to remove many of these modelling assumptions and exploit the vast advances of data science techniques is Data Driven Mechanics (DDM) (Kirchdoerfer and Ortiz, 2016). Further, DDM has proven to be extremely promising when applied to the sort of large scale computations involved in multi-scale problems (Eggersmann et al., 2021), meaning that its continued development offers a promising path towards simulating climate-change-driven rockfalls from the scale of millimetres to mountains.

The DDM method involves creating a database of material behaviours (from experiments or micro-scale models) and finding the entries that best respect the fundamental physical constraints (Newton's laws of motion and the compatibility of deformations). However, thus far it has only been developed in the context of classical continuum mechanics, but cracking and rockfall problems involve contact problems that must be described in terms of “non- smooth mechanics”, involving additional constraints and non-standard functions (Collins-Craft et al., 2022). Thus,the scientific project is to adapt the data-driven formulation to create a non-smooth data-driven mechanics (NSDDM), and implement it using specialised software that will allow large- scale simulation.

To apply, please include a cover letter (in English or French, approximately one page in length) describing your background and motivation for this project, as well as a curriculum vitae. Applications will be reviewed continuously until the position is filled. This project would be suitable for students with a solid grounding in mathematics (including but not limited to civil/mechanical engineering, physics, geology, applied mathematics etc), and who have experience in coding, especially as applied to scientific computing. There is some scope to adapt this project to suit the interests of the candidate, provided it remains similar in spirit to the proposal. Interested candidates are encouraged to contact Nicholas Collins-Craft ( with any questions about the project.


Collins-Craft, N. A., F. Bourrier and V. Acary (1st Oct. 2022). “On the Formulation and Implementation of Extrinsic Cohesive Zone Models with Contact”. In: Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering 400, p. 115545. issn: 0045-7825. doi: 10.1016/j.cma.2022.115545. url: https: // www. Eggersmann, Robert et al. (15th Aug. 2021). “Efficient Data Structures for Model-Free Data-Driven Computational Mechanics”. In: Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering 382, p. 113855. issn: 00457825. doi: 10.1016/j.cma.2021.113855. arXiv: 2012.00357. url: https: // Keiler, Margreth, Jasper Knight and Stephan Harrison (28th May 2010). “Climate Change and Geomorphological Hazards in the Eastern European Alps”. In: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 368.1919, pp. 2461–2479. doi: 10.1098/RSTA.2010.0047. url: https: // Kirchdoerfer, T. and Michael Ortiz (1st June 2016). “Data-Driven Computational Mechanics”. In: Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering 304, pp. 81–101. issn: 00457825. doi: 10.1016/j.cma.2016.02.001. arXiv: 1510.04232

Main activities

Main activities :

  • Become familar with the literature describing the data-driven mechanics and non-smooth mechanics frameworks, and write a literature review summarising them,
  • Develop a mathematical model combining the two frameworks in a way that is suitable for numerical computation, and
  • Implement this model in code.
  • Skills

    Technical skills and level required : A strong background in mathematics is required, preferrably with competences and/or knowledge of numerical solution of differential equations (some experience with tensors preferred) and optimisation. Some skills and experience in programming are also needed, ideally with respect to scientific computing. Experience and familiarity with the principles of continuum mechanics and material modelling are appreciated.

    Languages : The candidate must be at least strong enough in English to comfortably read scientific articles. The candidate must also be competent in written or spoken English or French.

    Other values appreciated : Curiosity and a strong commitment to openness, rigour and scientific integrity in your work.

    Benefits package
  • Subsidized meals
  • Partial reimbursement of public transport costs
  • Professional equipment available (videoconferencing, loan of computer equipment, etc.)
  • Social, cultural and sports events and activities
  • Remuneration

    Minimum legal gratification

    General Information
  • Theme/Domain : Numerical schemes and simulations Scientific computing (BAP E)

  • Town/city : Montbonnot

  • Inria Center : Centre Inria de l'Université Grenoble Alpes
  • Starting date : 2023-02-01
  • Duration of contract : 6 months
  • Deadline to apply : 2022-12-18
  • Contacts
  • Inria Team : TRIPOP
  • Recruiter : Collins-craft Nicholas Anton /
  • About Inria

    Inria is the French national research institute dedicated to digital science and technology. It employs 2,600 people. Its 200 agile project teams, generally run jointly with academic partners, include more than 3,500 scientists and engineers working to meet the challenges of digital technology, often at the interface with other disciplines. The Institute also employs numerous talents in over forty different professions. 900 research support staff contribute to the preparation and development of scientific and entrepreneurial projects that have a worldwide impact.

    Instruction to apply

    Applications must be submitted online on the Inria website.

    Processing of applications sent by other channels is not guaranteed.

    Defence Security : This position is likely to be situated in a restricted area (ZRR), as defined in Decree No. 2011-1425 relating to the protection of national scientific and technical potential (PPST).Authorisation to enter an area is granted by the director of the unit, following a favourable Ministerial decision, as defined in the decree of 3 July 2012 relating to the PPST. An unfavourable Ministerial decision in respect of a position situated in a ZRR would result in the cancellation of the appointment.

    Recruitment Policy : As part of its diversity policy, all Inria positions are accessible to people with disabilities.

    Warning : you must enter your e-mail address in order to save your application to Inria. Applications must be submitted online on the Inria website. Processing of applications sent from other channels is not guaranteed.

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