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PhD position on Responsible Design for Wearable Soft Actuators

Within the faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics, and Computer Science (EEMCS), the department of Human Media Interaction (HMI) is looking for an enthusiastic PhD candidate to work on Responsible Design for Wearable Soft Actuators.

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Key takeaways

  • Hours 40 hr.
  • Salary indication € 2,541 - € 3,247
  • Deadline 30 Sep 2022

The position is associated with the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions Doctoral Network SOFTWEAR (https://softwear-dn.eu). This is a highly interdisciplinary Doctoral Network in the emerging and rapidly growing field of wearables, with a unique focus on soft actuators for wearables and exoskeletons. The primary objective of SOFTWEAR is to train young researchers in the multidisciplinary science of soft actuators for integration in wearables and augmenting textiles. This will be achieved by merging design, human-technology interaction, ethics, chemistry, physics, mechanics, electronics, and textile technology, in a truly interdisciplinary manner, while teaching essential skills in ethics, product development, IPR and industrial realisation, thus providing a unique added value to the careers of the Researchers.

PhD project description
While soft actuators aim, in the first place, at empowerment of users, applications may also introduce new personal and societal vulnerabilities. For example, while soft exoskeletons may extend physical abilities, they may also reinforce ableist views that inclusion efforts are primarily the responsibility of the disabled or vulnerable person. Moreover, while the technologies are developed for societally beneficial purposes, they may also be used for harmful objectives (dual use risks). We offer a fully funded 4-year PhD position to address these challenges by developing a design framework that supports developers of applications of wearable soft actuators in analysing how human vulnerabilities are transformed through the envisaged applications. The research will identify key categories of applications of soft actuators, together with an envisioning tool for analysing how these give rise to different types of ethical and social issues. Design guidelines will be created that can be used for addressing these issues. This framework will be built on existing research on Value-Sensitive Design, Coactive Design, and ethics of technology such as guidance ethics, through a user-centred design process.

In the end, the researcher will have gained expertise in
i) existing design approaches for human-technology interaction from the areas of human-computer interaction, human-robot teamwork, and ethics of technology,
ii) performing inclusive user-centred design studies,
iii) social impact of wearable soft actuators, and
iv) development of design methods and tools for the novel type of technology of wearable soft actuators.
Key results will be an envisioning tool for identifying ethical and societal issues, and design guidelines for addressing them.

This ambitious aim will be accomplished by on-the-job training on innovative research projects developing beyond-the-state-of-the-art soft actuator technology and integrating this into active garments and soft exoskeletons. This will be carried out at leading academic groups and by immersion in applied projects at the industrial partners. SOFTWEAR will thus provide Europe with highly educated researchers in the emerging field of wearables, focused on integrating actuation. This will put Europe in a world-leading position in this field and will supply European companies with a highly skilled workforce in soft actuators and advanced smart textiles.

The prospective candidates are expected to perform and publish high quality and internationally visible research, and be involved in teaching and student supervision to a limited extent.

Your profile

  • You hold or will soon hold a Master's degree (or equivalent) in human-computer interaction, design, interaction technology, disability studies, philosophy, cognitive psychology, human-robot collaboration, or a related field;
  • You have excellent proficiency in English in speaking and writing (C1; above IELTS 7 or equivalent);
  • You have good communication skills, excellent conceptual and analytical skills, and you have an interest in working in a multidisciplinary environment;
  • You have interest and some experience in one or more of the following, or related topics: user-centred design, co-design, human performance modeling, or responsible research & innovation.

Our offer

  • As a PhD student at UT, you will be appointed to a full-time position for four years, with a qualifier in the first year, within a very stimulating and exciting scientific environment;
  • The University offers a dynamic ecosystem with enthusiastic colleagues;
  • Your salary and associated conditions are in accordance with the collective labour agreement for Dutch universities (CAO-NU);
  • You will receive a gross monthly salary ranging from € 2.541,- (first year) to € 3.247,- (fourth year);
  • There are excellent benefits including a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%, and a solid pension scheme;
  • A family-friendly institution that offers parental leave (both paid and unpaid);
  • You will have a training programme as part of the Twente Graduate School where you and your supervisors will determine a plan for a suitable education and supervision;
  • We encourage a high degree of responsibility and independence, while collaborating with close colleagues, researchers and other staff.
  • A friendly and welcoming research group, with attention to employee wellbeing.

Information and application

Are you interested to be part of our team? Please submit your application September 30st 2022 at the latest via the ‘Apply now’ button below and include:

The first interviews will be scheduled in October 2022. Please take these dates into account.

For further information about the position, please contact: Dr. Angelika Mader (a.h.mader@utwente.nl) and Dr. Birna van Riemsdijk (m.b.vanriemsdijk@utwente.nl).

Preferred starting date of the position: January 2023.

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About the organization

The faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS) uses mathematics, electronics and computer technology to contribute to the development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). With ICT present in almost every device and product we use nowadays, we embrace our role as contributors to a broad range of societal activities and as pioneers of tomorrow's digital society. As part of a people-first tech university that aims to shape society, individuals and connections, our faculty works together intensively with industrial partners and researchers in the Netherlands and abroad, and conducts extensive research for external commissioning parties and funders. Our research has a high profile both in the Netherlands and internationally. It has been accommodated in three multidisciplinary UT research institutes: Mesa+ Institute, TechMed Centre and Digital Society Institute.

About the faculty EEMCS

Curious about what the faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS) stands for? Check out the EEMCS website for more information.

A job that matters

Create new opportunities for yourself, your colleagues and our society. Scientist or teacher, administrator or facilitator, thinker or doer, energetic leader or silent support – your work at the University of Twente matters. And you too!

How to apply

Step 1

When you see a vacancy that appeals to you, you can apply online. We ask you to upload a CV and motivation letter and/or list of publications. You will receive a confirmation of receipt by e-mail.

Apply now

Step 2

The selection committee will review your application and you will receive a response within 2 weeks after the vacancy has been closed.

Step 3

1st interview.
The 1st (online or in person) meeting serves as an introduction where we introduce ourselves to you and you to us. You may be asked to give a short presentation. This will be further explained in the invitation.

Step 4

2nd interview.
In the second interview, we will further discuss the job content, your skills and your talents.

Step 5

The offer.
If the conversations are positive, you will be made a suitable offer.

Want to know more?

Mader, A.H. (Angelika)

Mader, A.H. (Angelika)
Associate Professor

Mader, A.H. (Angelika)
Associate Professor

Do you have questions about this vacancy? Then you can contact Angelika for all substantive questions about this position and the application procedure. For general questions about working for the UT, please refer to the chatbot.

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