Doctoral fellow

Last application date
Apr 30, 2024 00:00
TW15 - Department of Civil Engineering
Limited duration
a Master’s degree in (electro-)mechanical engineering, civil engineering, coastal/offshore engineering, or a related area, with a proven strong knowledge on offshore structures or ocean renewable energy.
Occupancy rate
Vacancy type
Research staff

Job description


The Belgian offshore wind industry targets to enter the emerging and promising market of floating wind, to keep its leading role. This requires a competent and long-term academic base, which the BEL-Float project (funded by the Belgian Energy Transition Fund) will provide: a select group of junior researchers, and their surrounding ecosystems, will, in close collaboration with industry, acquire knowledge and skills to face the most urgent challenges in floating wind. A unique bonus is the extensive cooperation with Norwegian universities, strengthening the Belgian-Norwegian energy alliance. This vacancy is for PhD research at the Coastal Engineering Research Group of the Department of Civil Engineering of Ghent University, within the BEL-Float project. The PhD research will focus on the development and optimization of numerical simulation tools for operation of a floating offshore wind turbine (FOWT) in extreme sea conditions, using mainly numerical (supported by limited experimental) modelling of the involved aero- and hydrodynamics.

The first objective within the PhD research is to develop a numerical model based on Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH), including the coupled effects of the aero- and hydrodynamic loads and the mooring lines. Hereto, the state-of-the-art SPH solver DualSPHysics will be used, which is able to simulate violent free surface flows, non-linear wave-structure interactions and higher order wave transformations. The DualSPHysics model will coupled to the mooring line solver MoorDyn. Using this numerical model, the FOWT can be accurately modelled in extreme sea states in order to assess the FOWT’s survivability. The aerodynamic load on the FOWT will be added by applying a time-dependent thrust force on the turbine, together with an aerodynamic damper. In order to determine these aerodynamic loads, results from field monitoring tests will be used. From these simulations slamming loads acting on the FOWT can be determined.
Secondly, the PhD researcher will assist in setting up an experimental test campaign using a scaled model of an FOWT with mooring lines. This scaled model of the FOWT will be experimentally tested for a range of sea states in the Coastal and Ocean Basin Ostend (COB) research facility. Therefore, the PhD research will result in a novel, validated numerical SPH-based tool. Model validation will result from comparison with experimental data, from the test campaign with the scaled FOWT.
The developed software to perform a numerical simulation for computation of slamming loads on a FOWT in extreme waves will be made publicly available, since the numerical model will be based on open-source software models.
The PhD researcher will collaborate with the industrial project partner Parkwind, who will assist in providing the necessary input regarding platform geometry, mooring line layout and used materials needed for numerical simulations of FOWTs in extreme wave conditions. The PhD researcher will collaborate with the University of Stavanger (Norwegian academic project partner), who have experience in performing a decoupled or a fully coupled aerohydrodynamic numerical model for FOWTs.

Within BEL-Float, the PhD researcher will be responsible for:

  • At least 70% of the assignment will be spent on academic research.
  • Planning, coordination, and implementation of the project tasks as described above.
  • Interaction and coordination with the (inter-)national BEL-Float project partners, e.g., planning and execution of project meetings, workshops and in-house conferences
  • Project communication and reporting, including writing project reports, scientific articles, etc

Job profile


  • Candidates must hold a Master’s degree in (electro-)mechanical engineering, civil engineering, coastal/offshore engineering, or a related area, with a proven strong knowledge on offshore structures or ocean renewable energy.
  • Knowledge of and interest in numerical modelling of offshore renewable energy applications is essential.
  • Prior experience (master thesis, internship) related to numerical modelling of wave-structure interaction is recommended.
  • Prior knowledge related to (floating) offshore wind is essential.
  • Hands-on experience in programming, data analysis and related statistics using appropriate software tools (e.g., MATLAB, Python) is recommended.
  • Experience with physical modelling using floating offshore wind is a plus.
  • Knowledge of open source platforms (e.g., GitHub) is a plus.
  • Candidates must have excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Candidates must be proficient in English.
  • Candidates must be flexible, responsible and team workers.


  • Duration of the contract: start of 1 year, with extension to maximum 4 years, after evaluation.
  • Your contract will start on 01/05/2024 at the earliest.
  • All Ghent University staff members enjoy a number of benefits, such as a wide range of training and education opportunities, 36 days of holiday leave (on an annual basis for a full-time job) supplemented by annual fixed bridge days, a bicycle allowance and eco vouchers. Click here for a complete overview of all the staff benefits (in Dutch).
  • An open, stimulating and multi-disciplinary research environment.
  • A unique chance to join a challenging and one-of-a-kind international project in close collaboration with other research institutes, industry and government.
  • Working place will be the Coastal Engineering Research Group at Ghent University (Technologiepark 60, 9052 Zwijnaarde, Belgium), with a physical modelling campaign in the Coastal and Ocean Basin Ostend (COB) in Ostend (Belgium), and with a planned research stay of 3 months at the University of Stavanger (Norway).
  • More detailed information on working at UGent is available on
  • The Coastal Engineering Research Group website is available on
  • The Coastal and Ocean Basin Ostend website is available on

How to apply

To apply, please send your full CV with a cover letter indicating the reference number of the vacancy (PER30/2193), and explaining your motivation for this vacancy and highlighting any previous experience of coastal/ocean engineering and numerical modelling to and before 30th April 2024.
Please send in addition a list with the names and contact details (address, telephone, e-mail) of at least one, but preferably up to three referees, closely associated with your expertise and skills.

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Prof. Peter Troch ( and Dr. Timothy Vervaet (