PhD Position in Computer Science
Catholic University of Leuven

The research group M-Group (Mechatronics Group) of KU Leuven, more specifically the embedded software development lab which aims at increasing resilience of embedded systems in mechatronic devices. The M-Group research group is a multidisciplinary team of hardware and software engineers and doctoral researchers, with research fields in reliable and sustainable performance of systems where electrical energy, automation, electronics, signal processing and ICT play a role. The research group consists of 5 professors, 3 postdoctoral researchers and 20 research assistants or PhD students and is based at the brand-new Bruges Campus. Here, the research team can make use of state-of-the-art research equipment and infrastructure to perform tests on embedded software, embedded systems or on communication devices. Furthermore, the available infrastructure allows the PhD students and research assistants to design and develop robust and dependable design techniques for hardware or software. The research group has be successful in acquiring prestigious funding such as H2020, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions and national funding (FWO, imec.ICON,...). For years, the research group maintains a close collaboration with other research groups from KU Leuven (imec.Distrinet, ...).


In this vacancy the PhD student will investigate and design techniques to make embedded systems more resilient for external disturbances. This work continues on previous PhD projects that have completed in the research group, further optimization and new techniques are needed to cope with both processing and memory overhead. Although hardware could be hardened using special techniques (as used in space environment), this leads to an increased cost in hardware development and a reduced set of potential developers since in general computer science they are not trained to deal with this kind of hardware. Therefore, in this vacancy the PhD student will investigate and design how software resilience techniques. The PhD candidate will study and further develop these techniques using compiler extensions (either for GCC or LLVM) to deal with bit flips at a low level. One major driver is the balance of extra instructions versus executing time and memory overhead.

For this vacancy, we are looking for an enthusiastic employee with ambitions to pursue a PhD in this topic who shows a dynamic and pro-active attitude towards research and industry.  

Overall project description:

Autonomous systems (autonomous mobile robots, cars, drones, off-road vehicles, etc.) can bring tremendous advancement for people and businesses. A crucial concern for such systems is safety. While most studies today focus on reliable sensors and perception, and actuators and control, this new project ‘SAFETEE’ aims for a vertical, in-depth study of a full-stack computing platform. In SAFETEE, we will study with 5 PhD students and one PostDoc:

  • a systematic approach for gathering safety requirements;
  • a decision making approach for autonomous systems (the ‘brain’) that verifiably guarantees safe decision making;
  • a safe and secure reactive processing platform and middleware with formally verified scheduling mechanisms and latency guarantees;
  • error recovery algorithms e.g. in case of bit flips; (this vacancy)
  • approaches for enhanced reliable hardware under harsh environmental conditions, with a specific focus in electromagnetic interference.
This unique combination of interacting aspects of a safety-aware platform is highly innovative and appealing to both research and industry. A real case study with autonomous mobile robots will act as a driving force for this research.


For this vacancy, we are looking for an enthusiastic employee with ambitions to pursue a PhD in this topic who shows a dynamic and pro-active attitude towards research and industry.  

  • You have a Master Degree in Engineering, preferably Computer Science, Electronics or Mechatronics
  • You have a large interest in embedded software and various autonomous systems. Experience in designing compiler extensions (either for GCC or LLVM) and/or embedded programming is a plus.
  • You show pro-active attitude into communication with other research partners or industry
  • You have good communication skills
  • Preferably, you are proficient in programming embedded software for microcontrollers and design proof-of-concepts using state-of-the-art components
  • You have a critical mindset and are able to analyse research results in a comprehensive way
  • You can work autonomous and independent with regular updates of your progress to your supervisors


  • The ability to work in a state-of-the-art topic in a brand new campus at Bruges with state-of-the-art equipment and laboratories
  • A young and dynamic work environment where human contacts and professionalism are very important.  KU Leuven is one of the world's most innovative universities.
  • Building up a network of industrial partners and consultancy companies in the sector.
  • A position for 1 year, funding is available to extend further after positive evaluation
  • Opportunity to start PhD research in the Faculty of Engineering Technology at KU Leuven, to obtain a PhD after a successful trajectory
  • Other working conditions can be found at


Please provide
- a motivation letter
- a curriculum vitae with at least 2 contacts which can be contacted
- apply as soon as possible, but no later than September 31st 2020

For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Jeroen Boydens, tel.: +32 50 66 48 03, mail: or Prof. dr. Tom Holvoet, tel.: +32 16 32 76 38, mail:
You can apply for this job no later than September 30, 2020 via the
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Brugge
  • Apply before: September 30, 2020
  • Tags: Industriële Ingenieurswetenschappen

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Computeroxy


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