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Funded PhD position; in Robotics-Development of a MRI compatible needle placement system; University of Twente; in Netherlands

Are you passionate about high-end technological design? Do you want to continue developing your skills with a combination of education and work?The Professional Doctorate in Engineering (PDEng) programme Robotics offers you a 2-year position combining post MSc education and a design project to be carried out at DEMCON. 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 DEMCON in Enschede you will work on high level, creative new designs for complex issues.

Job description

  • Main objective: Design and build an MRI compatible NPS.
  • Background: Together with the University of Twente and University Medical Centre Groningen, DEMCON has developed a Needle Positioning System (NPS) for use in a CT-scanner. The NPS automatically aims a needle towards a selected target (e.g. a tumour) and provides a physical guidance during the manual insertion of the needle in the patient’s body. Currently, the NPS is only CT, and not MRI compatible since (among others) it uses electromechanical actuation for aiming the needle. The usage of electromechanical actuators can cause damage to the system, patient and degrade image quality. To increase the utility of the NPS, the NPS should be made MRI compatible as well.
  • How? To be able to design an MRI compatible device, the system specifications for this new application area need to be identified. Both from technical as from usability perspective.First goal of this assessment will be the development of an actuator system that can be used to precisely position the needle guide within a MRI-environment. Developing an MRI compatible pneumatic vane motor will be one of the main challenges of this project including the mechanical design, optimizing dynamic behaviour, as well as implementing precision motion control.
  • Pneumatic vane motors are well known for their high power-to-weight ratio and their relatively simple operating principle. We have recently also demonstrated a promising positioning accuracy, which makes this a good candidate for MRI compatible actuation in general.
  • Besides the development of the actuator system this project will also cover other issues with respect to the MRI-compatibility of the current design of the NPS. This includes updating the design with an MRI compatible encoder and hydraulic locking system.

The project will be executed with a holistic system engineering approach. This relates e.g. to the physical constrains of the current outer design, the system specifications as defined in early stage and the limitation related to the clinical workflow. Furthermore, DFX (design for costs and design for manufacturing) will also be an important topic within the development trajectory.

Your profile

  • You hold a MSc degree in mechanics/mechatronics, or a related discipline.
  • You have demonstrated a strong and demonstrable interest in the research and development of high tech mechatronic positioning systems;
  • You should have affinity with medical related robotics and instruments;
  • You have excellent collaboration and communication skills both with academics and professionals;
  • You are self-starting, pro-active and self-motivating, willing to take initiatives and feel the responsibility for your own project;
  • You are a result oriented team worker in an industrial as well academic environment.
  • 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).


Please send the following documents before 15-10-2017 through the link below:

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

Contact information

If you have any further questions about this vacancy of the PDEng programme in Robotics, please contact D.M. (Dannis) Brouwer PDEng:

If you have any further questions about the PDEng programme in Robotics, please contact programme director T.H.J. (Tom) Vaneker:

Our offer

We offer a very challenging position for two years in an inspiring multidisciplinary and international environment. In this time we will provide you with a tailor made post-master design programme that has an educational component (~50%) as well as a design project (~50%).

  • A salary of € 1.828 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.
  • The assignment is in close collaboration with DEMCON, and if the assignment is successfully finished, the collaboration can be continued into an appointment at DEMCON if both parties so desire.
  • 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).

The organization

The University of Twente. We stand for life sciences and technology. High tech and human touch. Education and research that matter. New technology which leads change, innovation and progress in society. The University of Twente is the only campus university of the Netherlands; divided over five faculties we provide more than fifty educational programmes. We have a strong focus on personal development and talented researchers are given scope for carrying out groundbreaking research.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status or disability status. Because of our diversity values we do particularly support women to apply.

The Faculty of Engineering Technology (ET) is one of the five faculties of the University of Twente. ET combines Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Industrial Design Engineering. Our faculty has approximately 1800 bachelor and master students, 400 employees and 150 PhD candidates. The departments of the faculty cooperatively conduct the educational programmes and participate in interdisciplinary research projects, programmes and the research institutes: MIRA, CTIT, SBE and IGS.

Deadline: October 15, 2017.

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