PhD Position in Computer Science

Catholic University of Leuven


The research group M-Group (Mechatronics Group) of KU Leuven, more specifically the embedded software development lab which aims at increasing resilience of embedded systems in mechatronic devices. The M-Group research group is a multidisciplinary team of hardware and software engineers and doctoral researchers, with research fields in reliable and sustainable performance of systems where electrical energy, automation, electronics, signal processing and ICT play a role. The research group consists of 5 professors, 3 postdoctoral researchers and 20 research assistants or PhD students and is based at the brand-new Bruges Campus. Here, the research team can make use of state-of-the-art research equipment and infrastructure to perform tests on embedded software, embedded systems or on communication devices. Furthermore, the available infrastructure allows the PhD students and research assistants to design and develop robust and dependable design techniques for hardware or software. The research group has be successful in acquiring prestigious funding such as H2020, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions and national funding (FWO, imec.ICON,...). For years, the research group maintains a close collaboration with other research groups from KU Leuven (imec.Distrinet, ...).


In this vacancy, the PhD will look at the safety aspect of developing Safe and Secure digital systems. By analyzing established safety standards, such as IEC 61508 and EN 50128, and recent co-engineering initiatives (initiatives taking both safety and cybersecurity into account) such as ISO/TR 4804, the safety landscape digital systems have to comply to will be laid out across application domains. Using this knowledge, the impact of safety requirements on cybersecurity will be determined and reported. Using several use cases, established risk analysis and risk reduction techniques are evaluated and improved upon. To merge this safety knowledge with cybersecurity, a co-engineering development process will be created.

For this vacancy, we are looking for an enthusiastic employee with ambitions to pursue a PhD in this topic who shows a dynamic and pro-active attitude towards research and industry.  

Overall project description:

Nowadays, developing digital systems is not easy as both safety and cybersecurity must be taken into account, while these domains have matured independently. Safety has been regulated (through laws and standards) for several decades now, while cybersecurity has only been regulated more recently. In our new project 'co-Assurance', we tackle this project and integrate these two domains and aim to create a co-engineering development process. More concretely, co-Assurance:

  • Creates a regulation landscape by looking at safety laws and standards, cybersecurity laws and standards and up and coming co-engineering standards;
  • Takes a deeper look at risk-and-threat analysis techniques, such as FMEVA and STPA-Sec;
  • Maps risk reduction techniques to cybersecurity standards and thread mitigation techniques to safety standards;
  • Integrates all of the above into one co-engineering development process;
  • Validates all of the above through several industrial use case.
This vacancy represents the safety-side of the co-Assurance project. The cybersecurity-side is researched by our colleagues of Campus Ghent, with whom active collaboration will take place.


For this vacancy, we are looking for an enthusiastic employee with ambitions to pursue a PhD in this topic who shows a dynamic and pro-active attitude towards research and industry.  

  • You have a Master Degree in Engineering, preferably Computer Science or Mechatronics
  • You have a large interest in Functional Safety. Knowledge of safety standards like IEC 61508 is a plus.
  • You show pro-active attitude into communication with other research partners or industry
  • You have good communication skills
  • Preferably, you are proficient in programming embedded software for microcontrollers and design proof-of-concepts using state-of-the-art components
  • You have a critical mindset and are able to analyse research results in a comprehensive way
  • You can work autonomous and independent with regular updates of your progress to your supervisors


  • The ability to work in a state-of-the-art topic in a brand new campus at Bruges with state-of-the-art equipment and laboratories
  • A young and dynamic work environment where human contacts and professionalism are very important.  KU Leuven is one of the world's most innovative universities.
  • Building up a network of industrial partners and consultancy companies in the sector.
  • A position for 1 year, funding is available to extend after positive evaluation. Your support in writing follow-up funding is expected
  • Opportunity to start PhD research in the Faculty of Engineering Technology at KU Leuven, to obtain a PhD after a successful trajectory which takes typically 4 years
  • Other working conditions can be found at


For more information please contact Prof. dr. ing. Jeroen Boydens, tel.: +32 50 66 48 03, mail: or dr. ing. Jens Vankeirsbilck, tel.: +32 50 66 48 07, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than August 31, 2021 via the
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Brugge
  • Apply before: August 31, 2021
  • Tags: Industriële Ingenieurswetenschappen

In your application, please refer to