12 February 2019

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To apply for this position, please follow the application tool and enclose:
+ full CV - mandatory
+ motivation letter - mandatory
+ full list of credits and grades of both BSc and MSc degrees (in Dutch, or with transcription to English) - mandatory
+ proof of English proficiency (TOEFL or IELTS) - recommended
+ an English version of MSc or thesis, or of a recent publication or assignment - recommended

For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Dirk Vandepitte, tel.: +32 16 32 86 05, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than March 15, 2019 via the online application tool
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Apply before 15 March 2019

The research project is hosted by the KU Leuven Noise and Vibration research group, which is part of the Mechanical Engineering Department. The research group has a long track record of combining excellent fundamental academic research with industrially relevant applications, leading to dissemination in both highly ranked academic journals as well as on industrial fora.

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Sandwich construction is the most effective concept for sustainable and lightweight design of load-carrying structures as far as material utilisation is concerned. The designer has the freedom to combine materials of very different types in one sandwich structure: sheet metal, unreinforced or fibre-reinforced polymer, and also paper. Sandwich cores come with different skin support configurations: punctual, regional,uni-directional (corrugated), bi-directional (honeycomb) and homogeneous(foam).

Honeycomb cores have the best performance in terms of load capacity over material mass. However, traditional honeycomb cores are expensive. The company EconCore N.V. (, which was established in 2005 as a spin-off business of KU Leuven, has developed a portfolio of honeycomb core materials which are produced in a continuous cost-competitive process.

All dimensions and all material and configuration parameters play a role in the evaluation of the performance of a particular sandwich construction.  Moreover, very different failure phenomena can occur, some of which only very locally and some others globally, but even a local failure mode may be harmful for the integrity of the structure.  Scientific literature provides explicit formulas and approximations for global characteristics such as bending stiffness and strength, but more complicated finite element models are required for the evaluation of other properties, such as core-skin de-bonding and combinations of out-of-plane shear and compressive strength.

A new hierarchical honeycomb sandwich concept is now in the development phase. The hierarchical aspect refers to the fact that at the macro-scale the cell walls consist of honeycomb panels themselves. A significant increase of the cell wall stiffness is achieved together with a much better bonding of the cell walls to the skins. Overall mechanical properties are much improved with only very little extra mass. As the hierarchical structure now consists of two levels, the number of design parameters increases and an extensive parameter study is required to determine the optimum design of the sandwich.

The objective of this research project is the evaluation and optimisation of the mechanical performance of this new material concept, using newly developed finite element models.

  • a master's degree in a relevant field of engineering (mechanical, aerospace, civil, materials)
  • proficiency in written and spoken English
  • experience in mechanical modelling and numerical simulation
  • this job opportunity is part of a 3-year collaborative R&D project with EconCore N.V., which is funded by the Flemish agency for innovation and entrepreneurship ( and which is part of a larger 5-year Eureka framework with industrial and research partners in Germany
  • for the time being, the project does not lead to a PhD, but depending on the background of the candidate and on the approval of the industrial partner on confidentiality, a PhD trajectory may be developed
  • you will work in the Department of Mechanical Engineering of KU Leuven on its Heverlee campus
  • you will participate in scientific and technical events on lightweight structures