PhD Position in Model-Based Tonality Prediction of Wind Turbines for Robust Gearbox Design
Catholic University of Leuven Department in Mechanical Engineering

The PhD is hosted by the KU Leuven Noise and Vibration Research Group, which currently counts 90 researchers and is headed by Prof. Wim Desmet ( and is part of the Mechanical Engineering Department, a vibrant environment of more than 300 researchers. The research group has a long track record of combining excellent fundamental academic research with industrial relevant applications, leading to dissemination in both high ranked academic journals as well as on industrial forums. More information on the research group can be found on the website.


This PhD trajectory is part of a largeresearch project that aims to reduce the tonal wind turbine noise that is causedby spread in the gearbox production process. In order to achieve this goal, anumerical method will be developed for predicting wind turbine tonalities by modellingthe complete transfer path from the source of the noise, being the gearexcitation, to the receiver outside of the turbine. This model willsubsequently be used to investigate and assess the dominant root causes ofspread in gear excitation, gearbox transfer path, wind turbine transfer path,and radiation, and to identify the most effective measures to reduce thetonality spread and improve the robustness of gearbox design and manufacturing.

As a researcher you will use theMultibody Dynamics approach to develop an accurate yet computationallyefficient system-level wind turbine model for performing parameter sensitivitystudies in view of robust wind turbine gearbox design. You will use this modelto investigate how variance in gearbox production and design parametersinfluence the vibro-acoustic performance of wind turbines, by studying thepropagation of variance-induced mechanical vibrations throughout the windturbine. You will build the model using a bottom-up approach, starting bymodelling the contact between two gears, then including the dynamic behavior ofthe full gearbox and subsequently of the full wind turbine, and finally by studyingthe radiation of structure-borne noise by the noise-radiating panels of theturbine (i.e. the blades and the nacelle). Experimental data at both the gearboxand the turbine level will be used throughout this procedure to validate yourmodel at the various phases of its development. Having obtained a reliablenumerical model, you will use this model to quantify the influence of spread onthe vibro-acoustic performance of the turbine, and identify, design andvalidate measures to improve the robustness of gearbox design and manufacturingin view of the wind turbine’s vibro-acoustic behavior.


If you recognize yourself in the story below, then youhave the profile that fits the project and the research group.

  • Ihave a master in mechanical engineering.
  • I’mproficient in written and spoken English.
  • Duringmy courses, master thesis or prior professional activities, I have gatheredsome basic experience with mechanical modelling and numerical simulation,and/or I have a profound interest in these topics.
  • Asa PhD researcher of the KU Leuven Noise and Vibration Research Group I performresearch in a structured and scientifically sound manner. I read technicalpapers, understand the nuances between different theories and implement andimprove methodologies myself.
  • Iset up a plan of approach for the upcoming 1 to 3 months to work towards myresearch goals. I work independently to follow my plan and achieve the goals. Iindicate timely when deviations of the plan are required, if goals cannot bemet or if I want to discuss intermediate results or issues.
  • Infrequent reporting, varying between weekly to monthly, I show the results thatI have obtained and I give a well-founded interpretation of those results. Iiterate on my work and my approach based on the feedback of my supervisorswhich steer the direction of my research.
  • Ivalue being part of a large research group which is well connected to themachine and transportation industry and to learn how academic research can belinked to innovation roadmaps of companies.
  • Duringmy PhD I want to grow towards following up the project that I am involved inand representing the research group on project meetings or conferences. I seethose events as an occasion to learn the larger context of my research and theresearch project.


  • Aremuneration package competitive with industry standards in Belgium, a countrywith a high quality of live and excellent health care system.
  • Achance to pursue a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, typically a 4 yeartrajectory, in a stimulating and ambitious research environment. 
  • Ampleopportunity to develop yourself in both a scientific or an industrialdirection, besides opportunities provided by the research group, furtherdoctoral training for PhD candidates is provided in the framework of the LeuvenArenberg Doctoral School (, known for its strongfocus on both future scientists and scientifically trained professionals whowill valorise their doctoral expertise and competences in a non-academiccontext. More information on the training opportunities can be found on thefollowing link:
  • Astay in a vibrant environment in the hearth of Europe. The university islocated in Leuven, a small town of approximately 100000 inhabitants, locatedclose to Brussels (25km), and 20 minutes by train from Brussels InternationalAirport. This strategic positioning and the strong presence of the university,international research centers, and industry, lead to a safe town with highquality of live, welcome to non-Dutch speaking people and with ampleopportunities for social and sport activities. The mixture of cultures andresearch fields are some of the ingredients making the university of Leuven themost innovative university in Europe practical information can be found on the website of the university:


To apply for this position, please follow the applicationtool and enclose:

1.     fullCV – mandatory

2.     motivationletter – mandatory

3.     fulllist of credits and grades of both BSc and MSc degrees (as well as theirtranscription to English if possible) – mandatory

4.     proofof English proficiency (TOEFL, IELTS, …) - if available

5.     tworeference letters - if available

6.     anEnglish version of MSc or PhD thesis, or of a recent publication or assignment- if available

For more information please contact Mr. Bart Blockmans, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than December 31, 2020 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: Leuven
  • Apply before: December 31, 2020
  • Tags: Werktuigkunde

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Engineeroxy


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