PhD Student

Last application date
Dec 08, 2023 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 and ocean renewable energy
Occupancy rate
Vacancy type
Research staff

Job description

The Belgian offshore wind industry to stay as competitive as they currently are, needs to fully enter the emerging and promising market of floating wind. But to do so, they require a competent and long-term academic base, which the BEL-Float project (funded by the Belgian Energy Transtion 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 opening is for PhD research at the Coastal Engineering Research Group of the Department of Civil Engineering. Within the BEL-Float project, this PhD research will focus on the development and optimization of simulation tools for operation of a floating offshore wind turbine (FOWT) in extreme conditions, using numerical and 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 set up an experimental test campaign with 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. Industries and researchers worldwide are free to use the numerical model to perform their numerical analysis. The PhD researcher will collaborate with the industrial project partner Parkwind, as they 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), as they have experience in performing a decoupled or a fully coupled aerohydrodynamic numerical model for FOWTs, which will help in the development of an SPH based model that includes aero- and hydrodynamic loads.

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 international 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 and ocean renewable energy
  • Knowledge of and interest in numerical simulation and physical 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.
  • Prior knowledge of physical modelling in a wave flume or basin. 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 yearly extension to maximum 4 years, after yearly evaluation.
  • Your contract will start on 01/01/2024 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), and with a planned research stay of 3 months at the University of Stavanger.
  • 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 (PER30/2190), and explaining your interest in this vacancy and highlighting any previous experience of coastal and ocean engineering and numerical/physical modelling to and by the 8th of December 2023.
Please send in addition to the above a list with the names and contact details (address, telephone, e-mail) of at least one, but preferably up to three referees, including if possible a senior person (preferably your supervisor, manager or head of organisational unit) closely associated with your current work. A referee must be able to comment on your work experience, skills and performance with respect to the selection criteria.

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