/2 PhD positions in Artificial Intelligence for energy applications

2 PhD positions in Artificial Intelligence for energy applications

Gent Zwijnaarde | More than two weeks ago

The “AI for Energy” team (AI4E), at the Internet and Data Lab (IDLab) at Ghent University - imec is looking for a qualified and motivated candidate to pursue a Ph.D. in data analytics and machine learning for smart grid applications. 

Ghent University – imec IDLab Design group

Ghent University is one of the most important education and research institutions in the Low Countries, ranked 71 in the Academic Ranking of World Universities (http://www.shanghairanking.com/). On a daily basis, over 15,000 staff members and 49,000 students implement its motto "Dare to Think". Ghent University's mission statement is characterized by qualitative education, internationally renowned research and a pluralistic social responsibility. 

The IDLab research group is also a core group of imec. Imec is the world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium and also has distributed R&D groups at a number of Flemish universities, in the Netherlands, Taiwan, USA, China, and offices in India and Japan. 

All of these particular traits make IDLab a top-class research employer.


The “AI for Energy” team (AI4E), led by prof. Chris Develder and prof. Bert Claessens at the Internet and Data Lab (IDLab) at Ghent University - imec is looking for a qualified and motivated candidate to pursue a Ph.D. in data analytics and machine learning for smart grid applications. 

What you will do

Our research group currently is involved in research projects in the energy domain, including mostly smart grid applications. The focus of our AI4E team in these projects is on data analytics, as well as coordination algorithms for, e.g., demand response. A major objective of the applications we want to support is to accommodate large penetration of renewable sources (wind mills, solar panels, etc.) without requiring excessive investments in the power grid infrastructure. This involves characterizing and eventually predicting both power generation (from renewables) and consumption behavior (and its flexibility, e.g., what portion thereof can be shifted in time), using data analytics techniques, constructing generative models, applying machine learning, etc. The next step is to actively control power consumption, e.g., by developing algorithms for energy management systems (to steer power consumption and/or decide what to use local production for, e.g., push into the grid or local storage).

Your role in these projects will be to devise and evaluate cutting edge algorithms, implement them, evaluate them in case studies and report on the results in a well-structured manner. Additionally, depending on the project, this may also involve the design/implementation of software prototypes for simulation and proof-of-concept demonstrations (in lab settings, but also in live field trials). You will have the opportunity to interact and collaborate with researchers and engineers from other universities, research institutes and/or companies. As you will be dealing with several aspects of designing and evaluating systems (mathematical models, machine learning, optimization techniques, software development, simulation, etc.), the function is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate and further improve several of your mathematical and engineering skills.

What we do for you

PhD positions to work on fundamental and applied research projects (4 years (1+3)):

  • Position I: funded by a research institute, on graph neural networks and generative models for energy applications;
  • Position II: industry-funded position on heat pump control and home energy management

Focus on data science (analytics, modeling, machine learning) for energy / smart grid related applications, as well as scalable/distributed algorithms to coordinate energy consumption and production (demand response, DR)
Challenging, creative and constructive environment
Unique opportunity to participate in European/national research projects and to cooperate with important ICT-oriented companies
Competitive salary
A variety of UGent benefits such as public transport or bicycle allowance, discounted rate at student restaurants, and more.
Starting date: as soon as possible

Who you are

  • Holder of a M.Sc. degree relevant to the position (i.e., with a focus on computer science) with first class performance as demonstrated through outstanding grades, M.Sc. thesis results and/or publications.
  • You have strong analytical skills, you are well organized, you are an excellent communicator, a team player.
  • You have a strong sense of responsibility and are also able to autonomously plan and perform research tasks. You respect the predetermined milestones in research projects.
  • Your English is fluent, both in speaking and writing.
  • Both young graduates and candidates with a short (industrial) experience are welcome
  • Knowledge of data analysis, machine learning, optimization techniques (e.g., ILP, heuristics), basic distributed software concepts. 
  • A proven experience in software development (e.g., student projects or master thesis with an important software development component), with solid knowledge of Python. Experience with R is a plus.


Send your (i) CV, (ii) transcript of study results and (iii) motivation letter to chris.develder@ugent.be, indicating “Application: PhD in AI for Energy 2023” in the subject. Please also include (iv) details for up to 3 references that we may contact.

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