Netherlands: PhD in Electromechanical Master-Slave Systems for Skull Base Surgery at Delft University of Technology

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Job description

In the Department of Biomechanical Engineering of TU Delft, research is being carried out on the development of dendritic (=branched) instrumentation for minimally invasive skull base operations. The dendritic instruments under development consist of a number of flexible arms connected to a common shaft that can be inserted through a small hole in the patient’s skull. The arms are individually maneuverable and controllable by a surgeon, the first arm being an endoscope and the other arms containing grippers or other tools to carry out the operation.

The PhD project concerns the development of an electromechanical master-slave system for easy control of such complex, dendritic instrumentation. The research is part of a prestigious Dutch VICI research project funded by the Dutch Technology Foundation (STW). The project will be carried out in collaboration with a number of companies and skull base surgeons. With support from two experienced instrument makers and state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, you will work in a team of three PhD students working on intuitive control interfaces, dendritic arm designs and master-slave systems to control the arms.


You will perform research on electromechanical master-slave systems and develop and evaluate a series of innovative prototypes to control the dendritic arms. You must have an MSc degree in Mechanical Engineering, Biomechanical Engineering or a comparable field, a good understanding of mechanics and a solid, enthusiastic and creative background in fine mechanical design and electronics. You are expected to write a number of publications that will be included in your PhD thesis. As part of a multidisciplinary team of engineers and medical specialists, you will need a strong interest in science and engineering and good written and oral communication skills in English.

Conditions of employment

TU Delft offers an attractive benefits package, including a flexible work week, free high-speed Internet access from home (with contracts of two years or longer), and the option of assembling a customised compensation and benefits package (the ‘IKA’). Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.
As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment; an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor; and a Doctoral Education Programme aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills. Please for more information.

For more information about this position, please contact Paul Breedveld, e-mail: To apply, please e-mail a detailed CV along with a letter of application to M.J.B. Kole, The position will remain open and applications will be accepted until a suitable candidate is found.
When applying for this position, please refer to vacancy number 3ME13-30.

Contract type: Temporary, 4 years


Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) is a multifaceted institution offering education and carrying out research in the technical sciences at an internationally recognised level. Education, research and design are strongly oriented towards applicability. TU Delft develops technologies for future generations, focusing on sustainability, safety and economic vitality. At TU Delft you will work in an environment where technical sciences and society converge. TU Delft comprises eight faculties, unique laboratories, research institutes and schools.


Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering

The Department of Biomechanical Engineering of TU Delft develops medical devices based on mechanical solutions in nature by following the entire track from fundamentally new technology to commercially available end-product. Medical input is given by a number of medical specialists from collaborating academic hospitals. Prototype development and manufacturing is supported by specialised designers and instrument makers of the DEMO Central Workshop of TUD. The new technology developed is commercialised by a number of (spin-off) companies.
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