PhD Position on B-Spline Based Embedded Model Predictive Control KU Leuven, Leuven Production Engineering, Machine Design and Automation (PMA) Section Belgium


You will be embedded in the MECO (Motion Estimation Control and Optimization) research team of the KU Leuven Department of Mechanical Engineering. The MECO team focusses on the identification, analysis and control of mechatronic systems such as autonomous guided vehicles, robots, and machine tools. It combines theoretical innovations with experimental validations on lab-scale as well as industrial setups. The theoretical research benefits from the team’s expertise on numerical optimization, while MECO’s practical knowhow and industrial collaboration are supported by its participation in Flanders Make - a strategic research center for the manufacturing industry.



You will develop cutting-edge optimization algorithms tailored to MPC of mechatronic systems such as robots, electric cars, and CNC production machines.The successful application of MPC to these system hinges upon an effective problem formulation combined with an efficient and robust optimization algorithm. To meet these requirements you will combine and extend recent developments within the MECO research team on spline-based motion planning and numerical optimal control. MECO’s current optimal motion planning research exploits the properties of B-splines to transform the problem into a small-scale nonlinear programming problem (check out to get a flavor). Yet it lacks tailored optimization algorithms exploiting the resulting problem structure. At the same time, MECO does have expertise in tailored numerical optimization for the more classical direct optimal control approaches. The project will involve theoretical innovations to devise effective spline-based MPC approaches based on MECO’s recent results, as well as efficient numerical implementations of the algorithms in C/C++, and experimental validations on mechatronic systems.



Ideal candidates hold a Master’s degree in engineering, computer science, or applied mathematics. Successful candidates have typically ranked at or near the top of their classes, have a solid background in optimization and control, relevant computer programming skills, and enthusiasm for scientific research. Team player mentality, independence, and problem solving attitude are expected, and proficiency in English is a requirement.


Applicants whose mother tongue is neither Dutch nor English must present an official language test report. The acceptable tests are TOEFL, IELTS, and Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) or Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE). Required minimum scores are:

TOEFL: 600 (paper-based test), 100 (internet-based test)

IELTS: 7 (only Academic IELTS test accepted)

CAE/CPE: grade B or A



A fully funded PhD position in an international context for four years at the KU Leuven: a top European university and a hub for interdisciplinary research in the fields of systems, control and optimization. You will be embedded in the MECO research team of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The doctoral candidate will work in world-class facilities with highly qualified experts, and will benefit from the training scheme developed based on the expertise of academic and industrial partners. A start date in the course of 2018 is to be agreed upon.



Please use the online application tool to submit your application. Include: • an academic CV with photo, • a Pdf of your diplomas and transcript of course work and grades, • statement of research interests and career goals (max. 2 pages), • sample of technical writing (publication or thesis), • contact details of at least two referees, • proof of English language proficiency test results. Deadline: April 30, 2018! For more information, send an e-mail to Subject of your email should be: “B-spline MPC PhD application”.

You can apply for this job no later than June 30, 2018 via the online application tool

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

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