As part of the Kickstart AI program, University of Twente (UT) and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines collaborate to translate complex and challenging airline operations problems to scientific challenges and to design solutions that will have an impact on science and practice. In this context, we are looking for two PhD candidates with a genuine interest in Airline Operations and Artificial Intelligence, and have a background in Industrial Engineering, Operations Research, Applied Mathematics, or similar fields.

The world of airline operations offers a myriad of complex and challenging problems. Daily disruption of schedules, constraining resources, and interdependency of aircraft, ground equipment, and passenger operations require advanced optimization and artificial intelligence techniques. Complexity arises not only when planning these intensively interconnected of processes ahead of time, but also when handling them in real-time. The aim of this collaboration between UT and KLM is to bridge Operations Research and Artificial Intelligence (e.g., reinforcement learning and supervised learning) to develop integrated and dynamic solutions to airline operations problems, such as crew and fleet scheduling, disruption management, maintenance planning, and ground handling.

This PhD project is part of the Kickstart AI initiative, backed by KLM, NS, ING, Ahold Delhaize, Philips, and various Dutch universities. Kickstart AI has the goal to increase knowledge about and application of Artificial Intelligence in business operations. The UT and other universities have opened joint positions with these companies to realize this, and your project will be embedded in this framework too. Within the UT, you will be part of the Industrial Engineering and Business Information Systems (IEBIS) section in the High-tech Business and Entrepreneurship (HBE) department at the Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences (BMS). You will be supervised by Martijn Mes and dr. Dennis Prak. You will also spend a few days a week at Schiphol Airport to collaborate on-site with KLM project partners and shape your project in a practice-driven way.


As a prospective candidate, you

  • Are passionate about contributing to solutions that benefit science and business at the same time;
  • Are able to communicate with university and business stakeholders;
  • Have knowledge of several of the following techniques: mathematical programming, dynamic programming, reinforcement learning, supervised learning, simulation, business analytics, heuristics, etc.;
  • Can code in one or more of the following programming languages: Python, Java, C, Delphi, Matlab, and R;
  • Have, or will shortly acquire, an MSc degree in Industrial Engineering, Operations Research, Applied Mathematics, or related programme;
  • Possess excellent communication skills and are proficient in English.


  • 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;
  • The institution is family-friendly and 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.


For more information on this position please contact dr. Dennis Prak, email: Please apply online submitting a full resume and motivation letter before December 10, 2022.


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