PhD position: Digital Twin and reasoning system for water networks (1.0 FTE) (221698)

University of Groningen (RUG)

Groningen, Netherlands 🇳🇱

Job description

The DiTEC (Digital Twin for Evolutionary Changes in water networks) project proposes an evolutionary approach to real-time monitoring of sensor-rich critical infrastructures that detects inconsistency between measured sensor data and the expected situation, and performs real-time model update without needing additional calibration. The system is applied to water networks, where, in case of leaks, valve degradation or sensor faults, the model will be adapted to the degraded network until the maintenance takes place, which can take a long time. The project will analyse the effect on data readings of different malfunctions, and construct a mitigating mechanism that allows to continue using the data, albeit in a limited capacity.

Creation of an accurate digital twin, a virtual model of a physical environment or an object, is one of the most important tasks for any smart environment scenario. Digital twin synchronizes the state of a physical environment with the virtual representation of it using various internet of things (IoT) sensors and actuators. A link between a physical object and its digital twin can be continuously maintained, making it possible to experiment, simulate and optimize the properties of a physical counterpart at any time.

As part of the DiTEC project, the role of the PhD student will be to construct a digital twin model of a water network, analyse historical and real-time sensor data, which includes parameters such as water speed, pressure, quality, network topology, and create a reasoning system that detects and alerts about changes in the real system, and can update the digital twin accordingly. The model should be able to handle data representation on three levels: long-term stable data (such as network topology, seasonal water supply/demand variations), short-term data (current water network configuration, weather), and real-time (water pressure and flow sensor readings).


The candidates for the PhD positions should have a master’s degree (or should be close to obtaining a master’s degree) in computer science or related fields, with a background and interest in software engineering, context-aware pervasive computing, knowledge representation, AI reasoning systems, machine learning and data analysis, big data and cloud computing.


Founded in 1614, the University of Groningen enjoys an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative institution of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Flexible study programmes and academic career opportunities in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the students and researchers alike to develop their own individual talents. With its 31,000 students and Nobel prize winning researchers, University of Groningen ranks among the top universities globally. It is situated in the vibrant capital of the northern Netherlands, Groningen.

A 4-years PhD position is available within the Distributed Systems group of the Faculty of Science and Engineering of the University of Groningen in The Netherlands. Over the last decade the main research interests of the group cover the areas of context awareness in smart environments, AI planning, constraint satisfaction and optimization in highly distributed settings, Internet-of-Things, building automation, large-scale data analytics, and energy distributed infrastructures as main application domains. The research results are field-tested in collaboration with the industry.

Conditions of employment

We offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:
• a salary of € 2,434 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,111 gross per month in the fourth and final year
• a full-time position (1.0 FTE)
• a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income
• an 8.3% end-of-year allowance.

The position is limited to a period of 4 years. A PhD training programme is part of the agreement and you will be enrolled in the Graduate School of Science and Engineering.

You get a temporary position of one year with the option of renewal for another three years. Prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate that a successful completion of the PhD thesis within the next three years is to be expected.


Do you meet our qualification criteria and are you interested? If yes, your application should include:
• letter of motivation
• CV (including contact information for at least two academic references)
• transcripts from your bachelor’s and master’s degree

You can submit your application until 16 January 11:59pm / before 17 January 2022 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on “Apply” below on the advertisement on the university website).

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our University. We are committed to building a diverse faculty so you are encouraged to apply. Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP), and European Commission’s European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers, Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.


For information you can contact:

Please do not use the e-mail address(es) above for applications.