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.
Our Structural Engineering Research Laboratory develops new materials, systems, and manufacturing technics for civil infrastructure use. It is one of the biggest and most up-to-date structural laboratories in Europe, equipped with excellent testing facilities required for large-scale experiments. Some of its current research endeavors to resolve open issues/questions related to 3D concrete printing, wherein the primary goal is to develop innovative and attractive solutions for the problems hindering the wide-scale adoption of digital fabrication methods in the construction industry. 

ETH Zurich is one of the world's leading universities specializing in science and technology. It is re-nowned for its excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research, and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find this university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence.

We offer a
Ph.D. position on: "Innovative and Advanced Slab Systems using Digital Fabrication Technologies"
Project Background and Job description: 
Traditional formwork for reinforced concrete structures can account for up to 50% of the total construction cost and 75% of the total construction time and is a major source of wastage in construction as it is often made of timber that is eventually discarded after a few time usage. To overcome the disadvantages of traditional formwork, this cutting-edge project concerns the development of an advanced slab system comprising a geometrically optimized stay-in-place 3D printed concrete formwork and cast-in-place reinforced concrete topping. It is anticipated that the developed system would lead to the construction of lightweight buildings with large material and labor cost savings and may serve as a stepping-stone towards digitization of the construction industry. 

Within this project, you will develop methods for prestressing 3D printed concrete formwork to improve its load-carrying capacity. Your work will entail the implementation of topology optimization methods on formwork to manufacture slabs with free-form geometries. The project involves finite element modeling, analytical solutions, small- and large-scale experiments for the structural evaluation of the developed slab system. The project aims to culminate in a large-scale pilot application. 

The doctoral thesis will be pursued in collaboration with research colleagues from Empa and ETH Zurich. The project will start upon mutual agreement, earliest by December 1st, 2022.
Your profile and selection criteria: 
We are looking for a talented and motivated candidate with a Masters degree in Structural Engineering and a strong background in 3D concrete printing. Experience or interest in developing post-tensioning techniques for digital fabrication is also important. Additional skills, including experience in small and large-scale experimental testing, finite element modeling, and knowledge of structural topology optimization, would be an advantage. A strong desire and motivation to find cutting-edge and innovative solutions in the field of structural engineering are essential. The candidate should have a clear interest in working in an application-oriented research environment in close collaboration with our industrial and academic partners. Good knowledge of English (oral and written) is mandatory. Knowledge of German would be an advantage. 
We offer: 
  • We offer a multifaceted, challenging, and fully funded Ph.D. position for 48 months in a modern research environment with excellent infrastructure.
  • A rewarding, inspiring, and flexible working environment in a diverse international team 
  • Unique large-scale robotic fabrication facility with excellent hardware equipment and technical support 
  • Training and professional development opportunities (e.g mentoring workshops) 
  • Daily supervision by renowned scientists and researchers in the field of structural engineering, computational mechanics, and construction technologies
For further information about the position please contact Prof. Dr Moslem Shahverdi moslem.shahverdi@empa.ch and visit our websites www.empa.ch/web/s303 and Empa-Video

We look forward to receiving your online application including a letter of motivation, CV, master and bachelor diplomas, diplomas with transcripts and contact details of three potential referees. Please upload the requested documents through our webpage. Applications via email will not be considered.

Empa, Patricia Nitzsche, Human Resources, Ueberlandstrasse 129, 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland.