PhD Research Engineer: Project “Structural Glass” in cruise vessels and mega-yachts

Multi Engineering
Branche / Vakgebied
Construction, Research and Development
Vereiste taal
Start op
01 januari 2020
Eindigt op
31 december 2020



België - Temse, Belgium


Summary is initiating a research project to enable innovative ship designs by using glass as a structural, load bearing component in the construction of cruise vessels and mega-yachts. This project is a collaboration with a West-European newbuilding shipyard and Ghent University (UGent), departments ‘Maritime Technology’ and ‘Structural Engineering & Building Materials’.

The vacancy for the PhD Research engineer can be read below (without photos) or at (with photos).


In the construction of ships, especially passenger vessels and mega-yachts, the limits of what can be physically built with maximum comfort and experience for the end client, are increasingly being explored. The following criteria are essential for demanding ship owners: aesthetics, comfort, maximum spatial experience, wide panoramic view, maximum natural light, uniqueness, striking appearance, ....

These criteria are not easily compatible with the applicable strength and safety requirements. Shipbuilding is still often based on traditional construction technology with steel and aluminium and on a traditional design and engineering approach. This often creates enormous challenges for the designer, engineer and shipbuilder where solutions that do not yet exist, must be found.

Technical challenges for this innovative project are:

  • Minimize the use of metal frames, profiles, structural elements as much as possible in order to maximize visibility.
  • Investigate the strength of glass as a structural element and its resistance to typical impact loads at sea caused by waves, wind, …
  • Investigate the interface between glass components and steel/aluminium ship’s structure… how will loads/forces be isolated or transferred.
  • Develop rules and guidelines in order to achieve class acceptance for this new type of application.

Goals of the research project

Research of the application of structural glass in the ship’s structure is to result in:

  • Creating glass as a self-supporting structure integrated in the superstructure.
  • Creating building components in structural glass in order to maximize design freedom/opportunities.
  • A set of boundary conditions for the application of self-supporting structural glass in the superstructure.
  • Glass building component experiments are part of this research in order to reach Class type approval including a glass safety case.
  • Evaluation of effect on the ship’s weight, stability and performance when using glass instead of steel/aluminium.

This project is intended to lead to a PhD for the research engineer.

Job description

The main tasks of the research engineer will be:

- Project management & dissemination.

Regular presentations for the project partners, periodical publications, attendance to conferences.

- Literature study & state of the art.

Structural glass in maritime, architectural and automotive applications. Case-study selection. Feasibility study.

- Ship load cases.

Empirical models (rules by classification society). Definition of boundary conditions (external forces, integration in the structure). Development of simplified models: beam theory model and 2D numerical model. Determination of boundary conditions for glazing. Determination of needed strength & stiffness requirements for glazing.

- Glazing: global analysis.

Numerical viscoelastic model of laminated glass. Parametric study of glazing: stress, deformation and buckling analysis.

- Connections: concept & materials testing.

Development of load introduction design concept: constructional detailing, tolerances, materials. Materials pre-selection. Mechanical testing of materials for load introduction: stress & deformation. Define building blocks and typicals to use in the self-supporting glass construction.

- Glazing: local analysis.

Development of numerical model for load introduction: compression, tension, shear. Validation of numerical model. Parametric study of load introduction: stress & deformation analysis of bushings & adhesives. Optimisation of load introduction solution.

- Prototype testing. (Destructive)

Small-scale prototype testing of load introduction details. Meso-scale protype testing: glazing + load introduction. Discuss with Class the type approval process.

- Ship re-design.

Proposal for ship re-design. Full numerical modelling of proposed design. Translate to ‘ready-to-class-approval’ solution.

- Assemble PhD report.

Collect data for processing into report. Write and defend dissertation.

Candidates are to hold a MSc degree in Engineering (or equivalent). Experience in 3D ship modelling, FEM structural calculations are strong assets. However, if this experience is not present, the candidate will have to follow appropriate courses at the doctoral schools of UGent.

You will be supervised by your principals at, the professors and post-doctoral researchers of the UGent. Your working place will be located mainly in Temse and occasionally at the premises of the project partners.

More information can be provided by Ir. Niko Fierens (

Profile of the candidate

We are looking for a motivated and enthusiastic Master of Science in Engineering, preferably with affinity to maritime technology and/or structural engineering, with the following skills and competences:

  • Candidates should be well‐qualified academically to Masters of Science level. The project will require a mix of skills, including:
  1. Mathematical modelling,
  2. 3D structural modelling,
  3. (Glass) materials research,
  4. Programming,
  5. Simulation skills,
  6. Practical engineering aspects,
  7. Material connections/interfaces,
  8. Structural components,
  9. Experimental verification,
  10. Interaction with class.
  • Involvement in experimental testing of structural models is expected.
  • Candidates must have excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Candidates must have Project Management skills.
  • Candidates must be flexible, responsible and team workers.
  • Candidates must be proficient in English. Knowledge of Dutch is convenient, but not a requirement.
  • Prior experience in data analysis and related statistics using appropriate software tools is considered as an advantage.

How to apply?

Send the below listed information to

  • Your cv, including:
  1. Birth Date,
  2. Nationality,
  3. Relevant work experience required for this job
  • Copy of passport,
  • If available: permission to work in Belgium (in case of non-EU nationality),
  • Copy of highest degree (Master) and date of obtaining that degree (or date Master degree is expected to be achieved in 2020 latest),
  • Proof of English and Dutch (if any) proficiency,
  • Highest academic degree achieved,
  • Academic records,
  • Motivation letter,
  • Any other supporting material.