PhD – High-pressure turbine design and optimization

Department Turbomachinery and Propulsion
Deadline March 1, 2018


three to four years

Application Deadline

Open Until Filled

Position Start

February 2018

Job description

We are seeking a PhD candidate to join the von Karman Institute in the Department of Turbomachinery and Propulsion.

The proposed PhD project regards the design and optimization of a high-pressure turbine stage using state-of-art CFD simulations and advanced optimization strategies. The scope of the doctoral research is to generate new turbine designs with higher efficiencies and reduced heat transfer by shape optimization of the rotor blade tip and hub platforms. The project will focus on the development and implementation of dedicated multi-objective optimization methods using population-based metaheuristics algorithms coupled to efficient meta-models. Unsteady CFD simulations will be used to explore the flow physics of rotor tip and rim seal cavity flows, providing understanding of the effect of rotor tip and hub geometry change on the turbine aerothermal performance. New optimum turbine geometries will be then experimentally tested in the transonic turbine facility of the von Karman Institute. The successful candidate will contribute to the turbine experiment design, and will support the measurement campaign as an integral member of the turbine laboratory team.

The main objectives of this research are the development of numerical optimization methods for turbomachinery components, and the generation of optimal turbine geometries with performance validated by accurate CFD simulations and large experimental databases obtained at engine-representative conditions in a word-class turbine facility.

One of the key goals of this doctoral project is the dissemination of the research findings to the scientific community through conference participation and peer-reviewed articles.


You will have a Master in science (or near completion) in Mechanical Engineering, Aeronautical/Aerospace Engineering, or related engineering field. Successful applicants will ideally have graduated with an undergraduate Masters first class degree and MSc distinction/honours (or equivalent ranking).

A background and experience in the following subjects is essential: fluid dynamics, fundamentals of turbomachinery flows, heat transfer, and numerical methods for CFD.
Knowledge of Linux/Unix environment, programming languages (such as bash scripting, Python, Matlab) and expertise in turbomachinery CFD solvers (such as CFX, Numeca Fine Turbo/Open, etc.) may be beneficial. Basic knowledge of optimization techniques is highly desirable. Applicants with numerical backgrounds will be given preference. Working knowledge of CAD software (such as CATIA, SOLIDWORKS, etc.) is also an asset. Fluent knowledge of English (oral and written) is mandatory.

Candidates are expected to be self-motivated, hardworking and team players.

Conditions of employment

The appointment is for a period of 3 to 4 years, with an intermediate evaluation after two years, resulting in a PhD thesis. An educational plan will be drafted that includes attendance of courses, participation to international conferences and workshops, short stays in an external lab/university.

We maintain a very friendly and international working environment, which will provide easy adaptation for the selected applicant. We ensure a high-level of interaction in a world-known international research center specialized in fluid dynamics for aerospace, environmental and propulsion applications.

Additional information

The supervisors of the PhD project will be Prof. Sergio Lavagnoli and Prof. Tom Verstraete. Informal enquiries may be addressed to

You will be required to upload a covering letter, curriculum vitae, academic records (complete list of university courses with grades) for both M.Sc. and B.Sc. degrees, and the contact of two referees as part of your application. An interview and a scientific presentation will be part of the selection process.

This position is only open to applicants who are EU citizens.