PhD Student

Last application date
Jul 16, 2021 00:00
TW18 - Department of Industrial Systems Engineering and Product Design
Limited duration
Master degree in Industrial Engineering, Educational Sciences & Technology, Operations Research, or equivalent
Occupancy rate
Vacancy type
Research staff

Job description

Phd in operator competence management towards a skilled and robust workforce: ISyE (Ghent University, Belgium)

ISyE is a core research group of Flanders Make. It performs applied research in the domain of industrial systems engineering and optimization. Our major research areas are in flexible assembly systems design, control and optimization, and in particular human support in manufacturing.

Outline of the PhD:
Due to the introduction of mass customization, manufacturing companies have to be more flexible than before. Subsequently, there is a high need for multi-skilled operators that can perform a wide range of tasks. Training people (offline and on-the-job), however, comes with a cost. The origin of this cost is twofold: directly due to a trainer or the specific technology used (digital instructions, AR/VR, micro-learning) and indirectly due to a reduced added value to the production line during training. Finding the right trade-off between cost and benefit is thus crucial to remain competitive. Next to the personal development of a single operator, it is important for a manufacturing company to have a robust and resilient workforce that can cope with absenteeism, frequent changes in product mix and volumes and multiple unforeseen circumstances. Different strategies could be used to ensure the required robustness of the workforce, going from a standard cross-training approach to more sophisticated competence monitoring and management.
The aim of this PhD research is to investigate (1) how the competence level(s) of an individual should be quantified; (2) what the effect is of on-the-job training strategies on competence levels and (3) how this information can be used in order to improve and maintain the robustness of the workforce.
We offer the opportunity to carry out a doctoral research in a motivating environment (ISyE-core lab, part of Ghent University and Flanders Make).

Job profile

Next to a high motivation and interest in the topic, you must meet following requirements:

  • You earned a master degree (or in the process of earning it by the end of academic year 2020-2021) in Industrial Engineering, Educational Sciences & Technology, Operations Research, or equivalent, with excellent achievement.
  • You have prior experience with programming or you are eager to add programming to your skill set.
  • You are motivated to validate and transfer your finding to industry.
  • You are a team player who has strong communication skills and your English is fluent, both speaking and writing.

How to apply

Send your application by email or any questions concerning this vacancy to prof. Johannes Cottyn (, indicating “Application: PhD operator competence management towards a skilled and robust workforce” in the subject. Applications should include (1) an academic resume, (2) a personal motivation letter, and (3) detailed transcripts of study results. After a first screening, selected candidates will be invited for an interview (via Teams, Skype, Zoom) as a first contact in a multi-stage selection process.

  • Application deadline: July 16th 2021 or until the vacancy is filled.
  • Type of contract: Full-time
  • Employment: Temporary (4 years), with yearly progress evaluation
  • Earliest starting date: September 2021