Doctoral position: SAFAIR - Safe design of hydraulic structures for high energy air-water flows

ETH Zürich

Zürich, Switzerland 🇨🇭

Water and ice are our passion at the Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW), in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering (D-BAUG). We work in the domains of hydraulic engineering and structures, river engineering, numerical modelling, glaciology and glacier seismology. Our fields of activity are inland waters, hydropower, glaciers, natural hazards, river restoration, and river infrastructure. We contribute to the availability of clean and renewable electricity, to the protection against floods and cryospheric hazards, to sustainable watercourses and to the generation of new knowledge in the corresponding fields.

Project background

Reservoir dams play a crucial role for society and economy. Most dams were built and designed decades ago and may need significant upgrades due to changed hydrological conditions. Reservoir dams feature large outlet structures comprising low-level outlets and spillways to ensure dam safety and convey extreme floods. Most design recommendations are based on scale model tests, which are often case-specific and may be subject to scale effects. In this project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, we aim at developing a physically based general method that enables us to compute the evolution of air-water flows, incorporating knowledge of large-scale physical modelling and novel instrumentation techniques. To this end, the project takes a composite approach with one doctoral student working on large-scale physical model tests and a second doctoral student working primarily on numerical modelling. The two students will work in close collaboration together with a postdoctoral researcher. This job opening is for the position on large-scale physical model tests.

Job description

The research activities involve:

  • Independent modification and operation of a unique large-scale high-velocity flume in the institute’s hydraulic laboratory
  • Advancement of phase-detection probes and data analysis techniques for high-velocity air-water flows
  • Setup of a state-of-the art data processing pipeline using open source software
  • Development of improved design guidelines for dam outlets based on the large-scale test results
  • Publication of articles in scientific journals and presentation of results at international conferences
  • Doctoral studies (total of 12 ECTS)

The starting date is negotiable, the latest start being envisioned for Q2 of 2021. The planned project duration is 4 years.

Your profile

  • Excellent Master’s degree in civil, environmental or mechanical engineering (or equivalent), with a specialization in hydraulic engineering/fluid mechanics
  • Background in hydraulic experimentation, ability and willingness to work in a hydraulic laboratory
  • Coding and data analysis experience (preferably with R or Python)
  • Proficient command of the English language, written and spoken; German is a plus
  • Good communication skills and ability to work in a team