KU Leuven

Advanced Numerical and Experimental Investigation of Fatigue Behaviour in Metallic Fuselage Stiffened Panels

2024-08-15 (Europe/Brussels)
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KU Leuven is an autonomous university. It was founded in 1425. It was born of and has grown within the Catholic tradition.

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KU Leuven consistently ranks among the top 50 universities in the world. For four years in a row, Thomson Reuters ranked KU Leuven as Europe's no.1 most innovative university, with its researchers having patented more products than any other university in Europe. This vacant position is part of the fully funded FailProof Special Research Fund (BOF) project, a collaborative effort between the departments of materials and mechanical engineering. The MEtaL PerfOrmance InnOvatIon (ELOOI) Laboratory, part of the Materials Engineering Department (MTM) at KU Leuven Campus-Gent, focuses on understanding the performance of metallic materials in industrial applications through innovative techniques. This project involves close collaboration with the Noise and Vibration Research Group at KU Leuven Campus-Arenberg (LMSD), Department of Mechanical Engineering.
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Structural failure in the aerospace sector poses life-threatening risks to passengers and can be financially catastrophic for operators and manufacturers. Ensuring the structural integrity of aircraft is paramount, which is why a significant portion of an aircraft’s lifecycle operational costs is devoted to rigorous ground inspections. These inspections aim to detect and address any potential failures before they escalate into serious issues. However, the current methods are costly and time-consuming. FailProof research project focuses on developing advanced techniques for the online detection and characterization of minor failures within aircraft structures, in close collaboration with industrial stakeholders such as ASCO, Brussels Airlines, and Embraer. The main aim is to enhance safety and reduce maintenance costs.
This PhD project focuses on thoroughly developing advanced numerical models and conducting experimental investigations into the fatigue fracture behaviour of metallic fuselage stiffened panels subjected to representative fuselage fatigue spectra. By comparing and validating the simulation results with experimental data, the project aims to refine and enhance the model's accuracy, ensuring its applicability in real-world aerospace structural assessments. This dual approach of numerical simulation and experimental validation will provide a robust framework for predicting remaining useful fatigue life, enabling more effective and efficient monitoring and maintenance of aircraft structures.


The candidate is expected to make significant contributions to the development of advanced numerical modelling as well as experimental impact and fatigue testing. This role involves close collaboration with two other PhD students and a post-doctoral researcher working on the FailProof project. The expected profile of the successful PhD candidate includes:

  • You will have a Master degree in Electromechanical engineering, Materials engineering, Mechanical engineering, Civil engineering, Physics or a related subject with good grades (at least distinction in Master degree).
  • You are an enthusiastic and self-motivated person who meets the academic requirements for enrolment for the PhD degree at KU Leuven.
  • You have an inquisitive and rigorous approach to research and are open to communicating and collaborating with industrial stakeholders.
  •  A strong interest for multidisciplinary research in mechanical and materials engineering is required.
  • You are interested in impact dynamics, fatigue, fracture mechanics, finite element modelling, Extended Finite Element Modelling (XFEM), Continuum Damage Mechanics (CDM) and mechanical testing.
  • You have good knowledge of working with ABAQUS software and programming languages such as Fortran and Python.
  • Good knowledge of English language, both spoken and written, is essential.
  • Strong commitment, open-minded, ability to work in a team, and eager for mobility.
  • You are able to start within the next 6 months in this position.


  • The FailProof project officially starts on October 1st, 2024.
  • We offer a fully funded full-time PhD position for 4 years.
  • The salary and appointment terms are consistent with the rules for PhD students at KU Leuven.
  • You will have opportunities to attend and present your research at major international conferences, as well as publish scientific papers in the relevant journals.
  • Upon completion of the research project and successful PhD defense, you will be awarded a PhD in Engineering Technology.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Reza Talemi, tel.: +32 9 398 64 47, mail: reza.talemi@kuleuven.be or Prof. dr. ir Dirk Vandepitte, mail: dirk.vandepitte@kuleuven.be

KU Leuven strives for an inclusive, respectful and socially safe environment. We embrace diversity among individuals and groups as an asset. Open dialogue and differences in perspective are essential for an ambitious research and educational environment. In our commitment to equal opportunity, we recognize the consequences of historical inequalities. We do not accept any form of discrimination based on, but not limited to, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, age, ethnic or national background, skin colour, religious and philosophical diversity, neurodivergence, employment disability, health, or socioeconomic status. For questions about accessibility or support offered, we are happy to assist you at this email address.

Job details

Advanced Numerical and Experimental Investigation of Fatigue Behaviour in Metallic Fuselage Stiffened Panels
Oude Markt 13 Leuven, Belgium
Application deadline
2024-08-15 23:59 (Europe/Brussels)
2024-08-15 23:59 (CET)
Job type
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About the employer

KU Leuven is an autonomous university. It was founded in 1425. It was born of and has grown within the Catholic tradition.

Visit the employer page