Empa - the place where innovation starts

Empa is the research institute for materials science and technology of the ETH Domain and conducts cutting-edge research for the benefit of industry and the well-being of society.

In line with Empa’s mission, its Technology and Society Laboratory (TSL) creates and transfers knoweldge to support the transition to a more sustainability society. In particular, TSL analyses novel materials and emerging technology applications with a focus on associated material and energy stocks and flows, and evaluates them with regard to both natural environment and societal constraints.


For our project "Constraint Aware Pathways to the Post-Fossil Swiss City" (CAPATHITY), which will be funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and carried out within the Swiss National Research Programme (NRP) 73 "Sustainable Economy", we are looking for a
PhD student in Information Systems

The CAPATHITY project aims at supporting stakeholders in identifying both visionary and realistic pathways to reach a post-fossil economy for the case of the Swiss City, a fictional built environment covering all Switzerland. It will do so by developing a simulation game enabling stakeholders to identify trajectories towards possible manifestations of the "Swiss City" in 2050, and to challenge them with numerical simulation approaches allowing for both a dynamic representation of resulting direct and indirect stocks and flows and their evaluation regarding material, technological, environmental and societal constraints. The simulation game will include role play elements, and haptic as well as computerized compontents.


The candidate will be in charge of the following tasks: requirement analysis, design, implementation and testing of the simulation system that will run the model of the metabolism of the future Swiss City (key stocks and flows of materials, energy, and emissions). The model, which will be developed in parallel by project partners, will be used to explore – through forecasting and backcasting scenarios – alternative pathways towards post-fossil states of the Swiss City. The simulation system will consist of a back end for running the model and a front end for the interaction with several user roles.

Suitable candidates have a background in Information Systems (Wirtschaftsinformatik), Software Engineering or closely related fields, preferably with experience in at least one of the following areas: Methodology of Modelling and Simulation, ICT4S (Information and Communication Technology for Sustainability), Environmental Informatics. He or she has proven his or her communication skills in inter- or transdisciplinary projects and has an excellent command of German and English (both written and spoken).


The successful candidate will enroll in the doctoral program of the Department of Informatics of the University of Zurich and be supervised by Prof. Dr. Lorenz Hilty. It is expected that the candidate will spend half of the working time at UZH in Zurich-Oerlikon and half of the time at Empa in St. Gallen.


Starting date for the PhD thesis will be January 1, 2018, with a foreseen duration of 3.5 years.

For further information about the position please contact Dr. Patrick Wäger, Tel. +41 58 765 78 45,patrick.waeger@empa.ch or Prof. Dr. Lorenz Hilty, Tel. +41 58 765 7345 or +41 44 635 67 24,lorenz.hilty@empa.ch.and visit our websites www.empa.ch/web/s506 and Empa-Video

We look forward to receiving your online application including a letter of motivation, CV, diplomas with transcripts and contact details of two referees.

Deadline for the application is November 15, 2017.

Please upload the requested documents through our webpage. Applications via email will not be considered.

Empa, Esther Zürcher, Human Resources, Lerchenfeldstrasse 5, 9014 St. Gallen, Switzerland.