City:  Kaiserslautern
Date:  May 20, 2024

PhD student »Parameter identification for soil-tool interaction simulation«

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft ( currently operates 76 institutes and research institutions throughout Germany and is the world’s leading applied research organization. Around 30 800 employees work with an annual research budget of 3.0 billion euros. 

The area "Mathematics for Vehicle Development" works on modeling and simulation methods for the virtual product development of vehicles. One focus is the simulation of the interaction of construction and agricultural machinery with soil and material. We develop, implement and qualify new modeling and simulation methods and apply them in projects with leading industry partners.


In this context, we model and simulate soft soils based on the Discrete Element Method (DEM). In order to predict correct reaction forces with this method, it is essential to parametrize the simulation model accordingly. The parameterization step includes a calibration based on real measurements from soil mechanics laboratory tests such as so-called triaxial or adhesion tests.


For more information about our activities in the field of soil simulation, please visit our website



What you will do

The focus of this PhD project is the development, implementation and validation of an adequate automated parameterization algorithm for DEM-based soil simulation and soil-tool interaction.
For this purpose, different soil mechanics laboratory tests will be investigated and analyzed with respect to their suitability for the parameterization of the soil-tool interaction, also for different physical contact laws. Based on this, different nonlinear optimization approaches will be implemented and analyzed with respect to accuracy, stability and performance. Thereby, the appropriate and problem-related choice of the optimization objective is a crucial aspect of the optimization procedure. 



What you bring to the table

  • Prerequisites are an above-average university degree in (applied) mathematics, mechanical engineering, civil engineering or physics as well as advanced knowledge in optimization, scientific computing and (technical) mecha-nics.
  • Advanced programming skills (Matlab, Python, C/C++) should also be available.
  • Experience in modeling is desirable, but not required. 
  • Results should be independently and confidently documented and presented in German and English.


What you can expect

  • Depending on the qualification and field of study, the doctorate can be created in mathematics, mechanical engineering or civil engineering.
  • We focus on innovative ideas and design novel solutions. Support us actively in shaping the future!
  • We work in a highly motivated and committed team together with renowned industrial partners.
  • We support your individual work-life balance through a flexible work model. We have already been awarded the Fraunhofer Family Logo for this!


The weekly working time is 39 hours. This position is also available on a part-time basis. We value and promote the diversity of our employees' skills and therefore welcome all applications - regardless of age, gender, nationality, ethnic and social origin, religion, ideology, disability, sexual orientation and identity. Severely disabled persons are given preference in the event of equal suitability. Remuneration according to the guidelines for the allocation of Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft stipends.

With its focus on developing key technologies that are vital for the future and enabling the commercial utilization of this work by business and industry, Fraunhofer plays a central role in the innovation process. As a pioneer and catalyst for groundbreaking developments and scientific excellence, Fraunhofer helps shape society now and in the future. 

Interested? Apply online now. We look forward to getting to know you!

Questions about this position will be answered by

Dr. Michael Burger



Dr. Stefan Steidel

Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM 


Requisition Number: 29403                Application Deadline:


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