PhD scholarship in Operations Research

Thursday 26 Nov 20

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Apply no later than 31 January 2021
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The Section of Operations Research (OR) at DTU Management is offering a scholarship for excellent PhD applicant to help us study the effects of stochastic arrival time and cargo weights on the handling operations of Roll-On Roll-Off (RORO) ships. We are one of the largest operations research groups in Europe, counting nine faculty members and several PhDs and Postdocs. The group performs research in decision support tools in the form of heuristics, mathematical models, and data science solutions. We target various industrial sectors such as maritime transport, public transport, healthcare, energy, and finance. The scholarship is expected to start at the applicant’s earliest convenience, though candidates that can start in March/April 2021 will be prioritised.

The PhD position is part of a large research project (ROROGREEN) where several industrial partners and three universities are involved. The aim of the project is to reduce the emissions generated by RORO shipping through the use of digital innovation. The role of the PhD applicant will be to study decision support models that can help improve the cargo loading process. When a RORO vessel is loaded, trailers arrive at the terminal and need to be allocated a position within the vessel. The position depends on the weight and length of the trailer, but also on the trailer arrival time at the port. The arrangement of cargo on the vessel has an impact on its stability. An unstable vessel will have to load water in so-called ballast tanks to correct the instability. The more ballast water the vessel loads, the more fuel is necessary for sailing resulting in increased CO2 emissions.

The arrival time of the trailers at port and the weight of their cargo, is not known in advance, which increases the complexity of load planning. The aim of this PhD scholarship is to study solutions methods to efficiently solve the cargo loading problem when weight and arrival times are stochastic variables. The candidate will be working with methods such as, but not limited to, stochastic programming, metaheuristics and reinforcement learning.

Responsibilities and tasks
As a PhD student you will be involved in all phases of the research project, and you will have a chance to impact the project towards your research interests.

Possible research topics for investigation are:

  • Theoretical stochastic optimization models: Develop 2-stage and multi-stage stochastic programming models to study the impact of the stochastic variables.
  • Algorithms for large-scale applications: Implement efficient solutions methods that can scale up to real-life instances and provide fast and high-quality solutions.
  • Impact of AI methods: Test the feasibility and efficiency of AI methods, such as reinforcement learning, as alternative solution methods, or as components of classical OR approaches.

The vision of the research project, which this scholarship is part of, is to reduce RORO shipping CO2 emissions by 80.000 tons a year. The models and algorithms developed in the project will be the fundamental for future eco-efficient planning tools in RORO maritime logistics.

Candidates should have:

  • An MSc degree (120 ECTS points) in Computer Science, Applied Mathematics and Statistics, Transport Engineering or similar.
  • Good programming capabilities in at least one language such as Java, C#, C++, Julia or Python.
  • Good understanding of operations research methods such as metaheuristics and integer programming and stochastic programming.
  • Knowledge of, or willingness to learn, AI methods such as machine learning and reinforcement learning.

The following soft skills are also important:

  • A healthy interest for operations research and maritime optimization.
  • Good communication skills in English, both orally and written.
  • Willingness to engage in group-work with a multi-national team.

Candidates should have a two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points) or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide.

The assessment of the applicants will be made by 15 February 2021.

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Associate Professor Dario Pacino,, tel.: +45 4525 1512.

You can read more about DTU Management at

Please submit your online application no later than 31 January 2021 (Danish time).

Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here)

Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

Applications and enclosures received after the deadline will not be considered.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

DTU Management contributes actively to the development of management tools and optimization of processes by using and re-thinking theoretical engineering perspectives, models, and methods. Through our research and teaching, we ensure an innovative, competitive, and sustainable organization and use of technologies within areas such as energy and climate, transportation, production and health, both domestic and abroad. DTU Management Engineering has 350 employees, including around 70 PhD students. More than 20% of our employees are from abroad and a total of 38 different nationalities are represented at the Department. 

Technology for people
DTU develops technology for people. With our international elite research and study programmes, we are helping to create a better world and to solve the global challenges formulated in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Hans Christian Ørsted founded DTU in 1829 with a clear vision to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That vision lives on today. DTU has 12,000 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. Our main campus is in Kgs. Lyngby north of Copenhagen and we have campuses in Roskilde and Ballerup and in Sisimiut in Greenland.