PhD Position in Precision Engineering

University of Twente


Job description

The Precision Engineering Laboratory in the Department of Mechanics of Solids, Surfaces and Systems (Faculty of Engineering Technology) at the University of Twente, The Netherlands has an opening for a PhD Candidate within the research area of Precision Engineering and Agro-Food Robotics.

Research project description
Effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability, hygiene, and the limited availability of skilled personnel due to unappealing working conditions are the drivers for replacing human labour by technology in agro-food production and processing. Robots and robotic grippers have entered this sector but the current robotic technology is not able to deal with the large variations in shape, size, and softness of agro-food products nor with the variation in environmental conditions and tasks that are typical for the agro-food chain. Therefore, a disruptive, novel approach is needed for flexible, fast and hygienic grippers

We will address these challenges with flexure mechanism based grippers. This allows on the one hand for the integration of complex functionality such as underactuation, softness, adaptability and joint locking, but on the other hand pose challenges such as limited load-bearing capacity, off-axis stiffness and compactness due to a limited range of motion.

Recent advances in additive manufacturing opens up a new world of exotic flexure gripper geometries that potentially increase the compactness and performance, while reducing production cost. However, neither synthesis methods nor efficient analysis tools exist for the development of these flexure grippers. This project aims to provide these synthesis and analysis methods, along with a range of scientific demonstrators and industrially relevant prototypes for agro-grippers that have an unprecedented range and flexibility.

The present project will be conducted within the Precision Engineering Laboratory and research facilities of the Department of Mechanics of Solids, Surfaces and Systems ( This project is part of large multidisciplinary research program in which five universities and many agro-firms work together to develop cognitive robotics for the agro-food industry. Within this project, there will be a strong collaboration with the group of Herder of the Delft University of Technology (, Robotics and automation (RAM) group of Prof.dr. Stefano Stramigioli at the University of Twente (  and the companies DEMCON, Cerescon and Festo for generating several experimental setups.

Your profile

The successful applicant has a background in mechanical, biomechanical, or applied physics or in a closely related discipline. He or she should possess excellent skills and practical experience in one or more of the following research areas: non-linear mechanical modelling, system dynamics and control, mechatronics, or mechanical design. Experience at the intersection of one or more of these areas is desirable. Fluency in English is required. An interview will be part of the selection procedure.


Questions regarding this position can be directed to Dannis Brouwer PDEng, email:

Please send your application with C.V. (including contact information for at least two academic references) and transcripts from your Bachelors and/or Masters degrees as a SINGLE PDF file before January 15th 2020, through the link below.

Our offer

We offer a very challenging fulltime position for four years in an inspiring multidisciplinary and international environment. In accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU) the gross monthly salary ranges from € 2.325,- in the first year to € 2.972,- in the fourth year. Additionally, the University of Twente provides excellent facilities for professional and personal development, a holiday allowance and an end-of-year bonus, and a number of additional benefits. Your main responsibility will be to carry out research, but you will be given the opportunity to acquire some teaching experience as well.

The organization

The University of Twente. We stand for life sciences and technology. High tech and human touch. Education and research that matter. New technology which leads change, innovation and progress in society. The University of Twente is the only campus university of the Netherlands; divided over five faculties we provide more than fifty educational programmes. We have a strong focus on personal development and talented researchers are given scope for carrying out groundbreaking research.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status or disability status. Because of our diversity values we do particularly support women to apply.

The Faculty of Engineering Technology (ET)
is one of the five faculties of the University of Twente. ET combines Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Industrial Design Engineering. Our faculty has approximately 1800 bachelor and master students, 400 employees and 150 PhD candidates. The departments of the faculty cooperatively conduct the educational programmes and participate in interdisciplinary research projects, programmes and the research institutes: Mesa+ Institute, TechMed Centra and Digital Society Institute.

In your application, please refer to