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ETH Zurich

PhD Position: Structural Health Monitoring of Railway Vehicles Wheelset Axle

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ETH Zurich is one of the leading international universities for technology and the natural sciences. It is well known for its excellent education, ...

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PhD Position: Structural Health Monitoring of Railway Vehicles Wheelset Axle

The Nonlinear Dynamics Group in the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering and the Chair of Structural Mechanics & Monitoring in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geometric Engineering of ETH Zurich are seeking one doctoral student for a project on structural health monitoring and fault diagnostics for train components. The position is funded by a recently awarded SCCER Mobility grant.

Project background

Continual use and exposure to rough environments weaken critical components of railway assets exposing them to possible failures. In particular, the project focuses on the wheelset axle, where damage may initiate as a small crack, which can slowly grow due to fatigue and lead to failure. To timely detect damage, predict deterioration and assure safety, current railway vehicles are subjected to regular checks, which imply significant downtime, decrease in availability and an increase in operational costs.  

Job description

The project aims at developing diagnostic techniques to be applied in operation, for assessing the state of the wheelset axle. The acquired data, constituted by accelerations and strains, will be paired with a reduced order model, i.e., with a computationally fast approximation of a high-fidelity numerical model, to predict the response of the component in presence of a crack of arbitrary shape and position. Each PhD project will tackle one of these applications. However, significant cross-feeding of methodologies and collaboration between the supervisors’ chairs is expected. The close-to-real-time predictive capabilities of the reduced order model allows for fusion with sensor data - in operation - and leads to early detection of possible faults.

The project will be embedded the Mobility SCCER-funded SENTINEL: In-SErvice diagnostics of the cateNary/panTograph and wheelset axle systems through INtELligent algorithms. SENTINEL aims at developing diagnostic techniques to be applied in operation, for assessing the condition of critical train components (with the pantograph/catenary system  considered in a further PhD project).

You will drive the research in the field of structural health monitoring for the wheelset axle. In particular, the focus will be on the following tasks:

  • Propose a scheme for monitoring the wheelset axle, which relies on fusion of acceleration and strain recordings, further to the typically available, but not sufficient, axle box accelerations.
  • Develop a Reduced Order Model (ROM) of the wheelset axle, which is parametrized with respect to damage parameters characterizing the presence, position, size, and shape of crack faults.
  • Develop a hybrid scheme, which integrates such a ROM into a structural health monitoring strategy able to detect and characterize damage in an online manner, i.e., during operation.

The position reles on close collaboration with involved industrial project partners (including Siemens and SBB) from different departments. The collaboration will be focused on for data collection, data pre-processing, model sharing, development of the solutions and their knowledge transfer to the application field.

Moreover, the position involves: 

  • Supervision of Msc students
  • Limited teaching responsibilities
  • Involvement in academic activities (e.g., conference, seminar organisation,…)

Your profile

We are looking for a PhD student with a strong analytical background and an outstanding Msc degree in Engineering, Physics, Applied Mathematics, or a related field. You should have a proven experience in structural dynamics, finite element method and model order reduction. Good programming skills are required, as well as experience with commercial Finite Element programs. A general knowledge of sensor technology for vibration detection and structural health monitoring is desiderable. Professional command of English (both written and spoken) is mandatory. German is an advantage. We expect the candidate to be self-driven with strong problem solving abilities and out-of-the-box thinking. The duration of the PhD position is foreseen for three years.

ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.

Interested?

We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents:

  • Letter of motivation
  • CV
  • Brief research statement (one page) describing your project idea relevant to the job description, making connection to your experience in this area and the related work from the literature
  • One publication (e.g. Msc thesis or preferably a conference or journal publication)
  • Transcripts of all obtained degrees (in English)
  • Contact details of at least two referees

Only complete applications containing all the required documents will be considered. Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered. The review of applications will continue until the position is filled, with the position to start as soon as possible.

Questions regarding the position (no applications) should be directed to 

In line with our values, ETH Zurich encourages an inclusive culture. We promote equality of opportunity, value diversity and nurture a working and learning environment in which the rights and dignity of all our staff and students are respected. Visit our Equal Opportunities and Diversity website to find out how we ensure a fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.

Job details

Title
PhD Position: Structural Health Monitoring of Railway Vehicles Wheelset Axle
Employer
Location
Rämistrasse 101 Zurich, Switzerland
Published
2021-11-09
Application deadline
Unspecified
Job type
PhD
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About the employer

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Visit the employer page

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