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PDEng position: Data-driven prediction and reduction of excavation damages

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The Faculty of Engineering Technology (ET) engages in education and research Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Industrial Design Engineering with a view to enabling society and industry to innovate and create value using sound, efficient and sustainable technology. We are part of a ‘people-first' university of technology, taking our place as an internationally leading centre for smart production, processes and devices in five domains: Health Technology, Maintenance, Smart Regions, Smart Industry and Sustainable Resources. Our faculty is home to some 1,800 Bachelor's and Master's students, 400 employees and 150 PhD candidates and offers three degree programmes: Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Industrial Design Engineering. Our educational and research programme are closely connected with UT research institutes Mesa+ Institute, TechMed Centra and Digital Society Institute.

As an employer, the ET Faculty offers jobs that matter. We equip you as a staff member to shape new opportunities both for yourself and for our society. With our Faculty, you will be part of a leading tech university that is changing our world for the better. We offer an open, inclusive and entrepreneurial climate, in which we encourage you to make healthy choices, for example, with our flexible, customizable conditions.   



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Academic staff - Reserach, development, innovation

Job title

PDEng position: Data-driven prediction and reduction of excavation damages

Minimum salary


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Job description

Did you know that the Dutch construction industry currently suffers from more than 40.000 excavation damages per annum? Were you aware that these damages cause injuries and fatalities? And, were you familiar with the fact that this confronts society with more than 30 million EUR direct repair costs? Excavation is a major problem! So, if you feel like contributing to the reduction of this issue, this PDEng may be your perfect next job!


For more than a decade, the construction industry had set the target to reduce the utility damage numbers to zero. The sector supported the initiation of the WIBON law (originally called WION) that regulated the utility location and planning information exchange between stakeholders (utility and excavation companies); introduced the utility statutory record exchange system KLIC in the eighties; established the KLO (utility sector board, kabel en leidingoverleg), and took many initiatives to raise risk awareness.

Although it is undeniable that the sector has professionalized and the Netherlands is an international front runner regarding the exchange of utility data, it remains very challenging to identify risks and avoid excavation damages.

The challenge

Over the past five years, the excavation damages numbers have not decreased significantly. Authorities (Agentschap Telecom, and the Ministry of Economic Affairs) have raised their concerns about this since it is likely that the total work volume of excavation work will grow in the upcoming years. It thus becomes even more important to identify and predict excavation damages.

As executive organization of WIBON, and operator of the KLIC-data exchange system, the Kadaster can access excavation process data to analyse, for example, patterns in, and causes of, past excavation incidents. By integrating this information with other geo-data (such as infrastructure maps, maintenance data, information about excavation techniques, historical digging or incident data) it may become possible to better sensitize the industry toward potential threats to excavation damage, or even predict incidents.

The challenge for the sector is to identify what data and which methods can be used to establish a model/platform that could support this analysis and prediction.

This culminates in the following goal of this PDEng, which is to:

Develop a (geo) data-driven model/platform to identify patterns and causes of damage and make predictions about the likelihood that excavation damages occur on construction sites.


This project follows a design science approach, in which you are expected to explore the problem context and literature, then iteratively make an innovative design of the data-driven approach, and validate it in a real-life setting. You will primarily focus on integration and analysis of (geo) data, and depending on the needs of the project, may extend this to software prototype development. You will work closely with professionals from Kadaster and spend around 50% of your time at the Kadaster office (Apeldoorn), and 50% at the University of Twente.

Eligible candidates should have either (1) a background (completed M.Sc.) in construction management and engineering/civil engineering and management, and have demonstrated skills in the domain of computer/data science (e.g. through possession of certificates, practical experience, or course grades). Or (2) a background in computer/data science, and have demonstrated skills in construction management and engineering/civil engineering and management. Possession of Dutch language skills is an asset given the work culture at the host company.

We offer

We offer you a very challenging position in an inspiring multidisciplinary environment. In this time we will provide you with a tailor made post-master design program that has an educational component (~50%) as well as a design project (~50%). Furthermore, you will work  50% of your time at the Kadaster office (Apeldoorn), and 50% at the University of Twente.

  • A salary of € 1.970 gross per month.
  • An annual holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, and an annual year-end bonus of 8.3%.
  • A solid pension scheme.
  • Minimum of 29 leave days in case of full-time employment.

On successfully completing the program, you will receive a certified and recognised 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).

Information and application

Don’t wait, and apply for this two-year track that combines a paid post-master study with gaining work experience in an attractive and forward-looking mid-sized Dutch contractor.  Take this opportunity and apply for this nice applied design project within the ZoARG | ReDUCE (Reduction of Damage to Utilities and Careful Excavation; www.zoarg.com ) research unit of the Construction Management and Engineering cluster of the ET faculty.

Please send your application before the 1st of July, 2021, with a curriculum vitae, a list with grades of courses attended, references and, if applicable, a list of publications relevant for the project.

If you have any further questions about this vacancy of the please contact Léon olde Scholtenhuis (l.l.oldescholtenhuis@utwente.nl). General information about PDEng programmes can be found at http://www.utwente.nl/pdeng/en/.

Position localisation

Job location

Nederland, Enschede, Drienerlolaan 5, 7522 NB


Drienerlolaan 5 7522 NB Enschede

Candidate criteria

Minimum level of education required

4. Master

Scientific area