The Professional Doctorate in Engineering (PDEng) programme Robotics offers a 2-year position combining post MSc education and a design project to be carried out at Voortman Steel Machinery (VSM) in Rijssen.
The educational programme, carried out at the University of Twente, will have an in-depth and broadening character with ample attention for professional development and will be partly tailored to the design project. In collaboration with Voortman Steel Machinery you will work on high level, creative new designs for complex issues.

The project
In steel structures, beams are connected by means of steel connections (or joints). The structural engineer can choose from different kinds of connections (depending on applicable regulation, structural considerations, available welding capacity etc). The type of joint selected has an impact on the required plates, beam fabrication time, required qualification, assembling time on-site and ultimately the structure cost.

Welding is performed either automatically or manually. Automatic welding in the steel structure construction industry is a recent innovation and Voortman developed one of the few state-of-the-art automatic welding robots. Robotic welding is less flexible than manual welding and not all connection types can be performed by robotic welding. This has a major effect on the joint types and beamline logistics which must be taken into account. VSM develops and supplies CNC machinery for steel fabrication and plate processing related industries. In recent years the company has seen a switch from machine manufacturer to complete system supplier. VSM is interested in supplying to their customer software and tools to optimize the complete factory development, starting from the estimation of the connection cost.

The main goal of this PDEng project is to design and validate generic models for estimation, planning and determination of steel connections for a steel structure.

To do so the following tasks have been designed:

  1. Define/develop the knowledge model that allows for the automated generation of steel structures. Implement a proof of principle version of that knowledge model (in 3D CAD software) to allow for the automatic generation of (variants of) those structures.
  2. Select the best connections within those structures based on costs, available welder qualifications, weld-shop planning, CNC machinery availability. Machine learning may be used in order to provide a general solution that will adapt to the different customers’ typology
  3. Re-engineer existing steel connections in such a way that they are suitable for automatic welding
  4. In collaboration with the VSM robotic team, develop technology and functionality to extend the current portfolio of steel connection types suitable for automatic welding.

The developed models will be integrated in a specially built software to help the customer maximizing the production efficiency.


  • a MSc degree in Mechanical Engineering or Industrial Design Engineering, or a related robot-technical discipline.
  • Proven affinity with design and multidisciplinary assignments;
  • Skilled in programming and have experience with production techniques;
  • Self-starting and self-motivating, willing to take initiatives and feel the responsibility for your own project. 

Candidates with a non-Dutch qualification and who have not had secondary and tertiary education in English can only be admitted with an IELTS-test showing a total band score of at least 6.5, internet TOEFL test (TOEFL-iBT) showing a score of at least 90, or a Cambridge CAE-C (CPE).


We offer a very challenging position for two years in an inspiring multidisciplinary and international environment. In this time we will provide a tailor made post-master design programme that has an educational component (~50%) as well as a design project (~50%). The main focus of the first year will be on acquiring the required knowledge as well as starting the development of the models associated with tasks 1) and 2). In the second year the development, optimization and validation of those models as well as the extensions of those models with the results from tasks 3) and 4) will be the main tasks.

  • A salary of € 1.970 gross per month;
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • A solid pension scheme;
  • Minimum of 29 holidays in case of full-time employment.

On successfully completing the programme, you will receive a certified degree. You will be entitled to use the academic degree PDEng and will be registered as a Technological Designer in the Dutch register kept by the Royal Institution of Engineers in the Netherlands (KIVI).


Please send the following documents before 7 February 2021 through the link below:

  • Letter of motivation
  • Curriculum vitae
  • List with grades of courses attended
  • References and, if applicable, a list of publications 

If you have any further questions about this vacancy of the PDEng programme in Robotics, please contact Dr.ir. T.H.J. Vaneker (t.vaneker@utwente.nl or call +31534892472.


The Faculty of Engineering Technology (ET) engages in education and research Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Industrial Design Engineering with a view to enabling society and industry to innovate and create value using sound, efficient and sustainable technology. We are part of a ‘people-first’ university of technology, taking our place as an internationally leading centre for smart production, processes and devices in five domains: Health Technology, Maintenance, Smart Regions, Smart Industry and Sustainable Resources. Our faculty is home to some 1,800 Bachelor’s and Master’s students, 400 employees and 150 PhD candidates and offers three degree programmes: Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Industrial Design Engineering. Our educational and research programme are closely connected with UT research institutes Mesa+ Institute, TechMed Centra and Digital Society Institute.

As an employer, the ET Faculty offers jobs that matter. We equip you as a staff member to shape new opportunities both for yourself and for our society. With our Faculty, you will be part of a leading tech university that is changing our world for the better. We offer an open, inclusive and entrepreneurial climate, in which we encourage you to make healthy choices, for example, with our flexible, customizable conditions.

University of Twente (UT)

University of Twente (UT) has entered the new decade with an ambitious, new vision, mission and strategy. As ‘the ultimate people-first university of technology’ we are rapidly expanding on our High Tech Human Touch philosophy and the unique role it affords us in society. Everything we do is aimed at maximum impact on people, society and connections through the sustainable utilisation of science and technology. We want to contribute to the development of a fair, digital and sustainable society through our open, inclusive and entrepreneurial attitude. This attitude permeates everything we do and is present in every one of UT’s departments and faculties. Building on our rich legacy in merging technical and social sciences, we focus on five distinguishing research domains: Improving healthcare by personalised technologies; Creating intelligent manufacturing systems; Shaping our world with smart materials; Engineering our digital society; and Engineering for a resilient world.PDENG POSITION IN ROBOTICS


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