PhD Stipend in Learning Factory (915-21003) – Aalborg Universitet – Aalborg

At the Faculty of Engineering and Science, Department of Materials and Production a PhD stipend is available. The stipend is open for appointment from 15 March 2021 or soon hereafter.Department of Materials and Production (MP) has a wide-ranging research and educational environment at Aalborg University. The Department’s mission is to meet the future’s demands for new materials and production systems by directing the whole value chain from basic material understanding, materials’ applications in mechanical constructions, industrial production and management. The department has several strong, international and innovative research groups, which comprise everything from basic science to strategic and applicable research. The activities encompass research as well as education within materials, mechanics, physics, production technology, and industrial management and innovation.As an employee at the Department you will become a part of an international research environment, where focus is on innovation, knowledge sharing/building and interdisciplinary collaborations.Specifically the candidate will be part of a collaborative research and development platform “The Innovation Factory North” and is part of a collaboration with University College North Jutland ( ) and will be affiliated with both institutions. The candidate will furthermore be engaged in an experimental collaboration with technology providers and industrial companies in the context of the Smart Production Lab at AAU ( ), which will serve at the physical demonstration space for the project.

Job description

Research environments, industrial companies and teaching institutions are all establishing experimental learning facilities in and around their manufacturing facilities in order to demonstrate elements of and/or systemic solutions to the future of manufacturing, which we often refer to as industry 4.0. At the Department of Materials and Production we have a dedicated SMART production laboratory which has given rise to numerous research projects, has fueled industrial collaboration, and provided outset for innovative teaching and learning opportunities for students. While many of these initiatives have been technology-focused, the aim from the beginning has been to supply systemic solutions, which has given rise to important discussion about governance, connectivity, competencies, value creation and linking these to the emergence of technological opportunities. The systemic perspective remains a key focus, and in this context, it is increasingly recognized that the future of manufacturing rests on the need to combine human and machine intelligence and capability. Under this topic, we have coined the concept Labour 4.0, and others refer to industry 5.0 to signify the manufacturing as a learning space with active human and machine interfaces and interdependencies. The concept of the learning factory is well-established in manufacturing theory and practice and engineering education, but key problems remains to be addressed:

  • In industrial manufacturing or in operations engineering education one-off learning experiences are not sufficient due to the need for scalability. At the same time, we recognize that standardized learning opportunities do not create sufficient leeway for the wicked problems we face in modern manufacturing. Gaming and/or simulation in the virtual factory are examples of approaches to scale learnings, that allows both expansive and efficiency seeking learning, but the learning foundations for these are ill understood and have not been subjected to academic study. 
  • Learning concepts are needed that build the foundation for combining explorative and exploitative learning in the context of the manufacturing learning lab. Structured learning concepts are needed to transition from laboratory production to full scale and scalable production, setting the structural conditions for learning (continuous improvement and innovation) in the space of automated production and supply chain. 
  • Factories are increasingly accepted as not only places of effective transformation, but as spaces of learning and development drive. Experiments are carried out in lab type production, but issues remains in terms of scaling learnings to the company or learning curriculum as a whole. This calls for redefining current understandings of the strategic role of manufacturing from a multi-purpose perspective.
  • The PhD project will address such key gaps.

    The candidate
    Applicants to the PhD position must hold a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Industrial Engineering; Management Engineering, Learning Environments or similar, from an internationally recognized university. We are looking for highly motivated candidates with the following qualifications: 

  • A good knowledge of manufacturing technologies and engineering education.
  • A proven experience in topics related to the human workforce in manufacturing firms.
  • Previous experience with experimental research within manufacturing companies is advantageous.
  • Ability to work in a multi-disciplinary environment as an independent researcher.
  • Good written and verbal communication skills in Danish and English.
  • Commitment, dedication, enthusiasm and ability to work efficiently both as a part of a team and independently. We are looking for a candidate with a passion for engineering education both in the formal educational context as well as in relation to learning in practice. Designing the interface between human and machine is of particular interest and requires interests and documented formal skills related to both. The candidate is also expected to have experience with industry/university collaboration.
  • The application is only to be submitted online by using the “Apply online” button below.

    AAU wishes to reflect the diversity of society and welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background or belief.


    Appointment and salary as a PhD fellow are according to the Ministry of Finance Circular of November 10, 2015 on the Collective Agreement for Academics in Denmark, Appendix 5, regarding PhD fellows, and with the Ministry of Finance current circular on the employment structure at Danish Universities.

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