PhD Position Real-Time Control to Facilitate Transitions in Urban Wastewater Systems

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

Delft, Netherlands 🇳🇱

Challenge: Enable transitions towards a sustainable urban wastewater system.

Change: Integrate digital water solutions in transitional pathways.

Impact: Reduction of the negative impact of urban wastewater.

Job description

Over the last decades, urban wastewater systems have been developed with the main aim of safely conveying and treating wastewater and urban runoff. In the coming decades, owing to increased urbanisation and climate change, the old paradigm will shift to more sustainable forms of urban water management. This transition is vital to transform the cities to being climate adaptive. However, this transition will take decades, during which the existing infrastructure is in likely need of replacement or upgrading to ensure the continued protection of public health and the environment.

This PhD position centres around the question if transitions in the urban wastewater system can be facilitated through the use of dynamic real-time control (RTC). Although the final form of a sustainable urban (waste)water management system is well defined, a comprehensive strategy to bridge the transitional period is still lacking. In this project, you will develop methods which combine model-based control and transitional system analysis to facilitate urban transitions. The methods will help to gain insights in the interaction between long-term and short-term dynamics of the operation of the urban wastewater system and develop a framework applicable to wastewater systems around the world. You will take an integrated approach, looking at both the operation and design of the urban drainage system and wastewater treatment plants.

The work of this PhD will be strongly linked to the Kennisprogramma Urban Drainage, a consortium of Dutch public, private and research partners. Case studies in the Netherlands, and therefore finding solutions to existing problems whilst answering fundamental questions, will be used during the PhD track. Engaging and collaborating with the partners will be a one of your key tasks. You can therefore communicate (spoken and written) in Dutch or have the willingness to learn Dutch during the first year. Furthermore, you will be active in the supervision of MSc and BSc student projects and help in the education of the MSc Environmental Engineering at the TU Delft.


Essential requirements for the successful candidate are:

  • A completed master’s degree in Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering, or a related field;
  • Critical analysis and creative thinking with affinity for urban wastewater systems;
  • Good communication and written skills in English.

Additionally, it would be nice if you have:

  • High level of curiosity and self-motivation and the ability to work well within a group of peers;
  • Good Dutch communication skills or willingness to learn;
  • Affinity with programming and modelling;
  • Motivation to supervise and work with BSc and MSc students.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service. This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.

TU Delft (Delft University of Technology)

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!

Faculty Civil Engineering & Geosciences

The Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences (CEG) is committed to outstanding international research and education in the field of civil engineering, applied earth sciences, traffic and transport, water technology, and delta technology. Our research feeds into our educational programmes and covers societal challenges such as climate change, energy transition, resource availability, urbanisation and clean water. Our research projects are conducted in close cooperation with a wide range of research institutions. CEG is convinced of the importance of open science and supports its scientists in integrating open science in their research practice. The Faculty of CEG comprises 28 research groups in the following seven departments: Materials Mechanics Management & Design, Engineering Structures, Geoscience and Engineering, Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Transport & Planning, Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences.

Additional information

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Dr. Job van der Werf, e-mail:

Application procedure

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply before 2 October 2023 via the application button and upload your motivation and CV.

  • You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.
  • A pre-Employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.
  • Please do not contact us for unsolicited services.





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