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3-year fully funded PhD fellowship in Radical innovation of sustainable building

DTU Management Engineering offers a 3-year fully funded PhD fellowship to conduct research into Radical innovation of sustainable building. The position will be based in the Engineering Systems Group.

The research project, part of the NordicFiveTech Universities Alliance Partnership, will be carried out in association with Chalmers University of Technology and NTNU and other industry partners within the Nordic construction industry.

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Responsibilities and tasks
The development of sustainability opportunities within buildings is quickly accelerating and multifaceted. It has become difficult – if not impossible – for construction professionals to update on new methods and approaches for processes of innovation as well as the technological development of new products, i.e. building components and systems. Moreover, the full implications of these changes appear to involve fundamental shifts in the paradigms for conceptualizing, producing and operating buildings. Sustainable initiatives in construction on the other hand have poor voluntary uptake. This is due to the fact that sustainability is perceived resource heavy and demanding by users of construction. Because of this double challenge of lack of knowledge about technical options and a negative perception of sustainability measures, the take up of new sustainability opportunities is moderate in the Scandinavian countries compared to the opportunities. At the same time, some clients are prepared to pay the continuously diminishing premium for higher levels of sustainability. Moreover, the regulatory frame is moving, posing ever stricter demands (even if the legislation is behind the technological development). These supporting trends make the Scandinavian countries some of the best prepared to do become trailblazers for ambitious sustainability efforts in buildings. Still, at present most construction projects stay close to the building regulation. The unrealized potential creates a possibility to take a quantum leap in sustainability by transcending existing norms such as LEED, Cradle to Cradle, DGNB and present day and foreseen building regulation.

The research objectives
The project addresses the challenge by adapting a strategy with a specific focus first developing a research based conceptual frame for radical sustainable building innovation (O’Conner et al 2008) and second by developing a toolkit for radical sustainable innovation in construction. The rationality behind this is to let the toolkit act as the content of the diffusion device rather than the build product. The toolkit amplifies the impact of the project by the implementation of business development practices in companies. This is ensured by designing the toolkit for adaption by business managers, consultants, innovators, developers and change agents just like the business model canvas (Osterwalder and Pigneur 2010).

The ultimate ambition of the project is to initiate a movement on radical sustainable innovation in line with BIM and the business model generation and thereby make a significant contribution to the sustainable development of construction.

Recent development in other industries has provided tools and frameworks for enabling radical sustainable innovation. This includes knowledge areas within Sustainability, Radical Innovation, Service Design, Sociotechnical transitions and Business models innovation – all representing pieces of a puzzle that needs to be aligned with the context of construction.

We invite talented candidates who will be passionate shaping and solving this problem through key research activities like:

  1. identifying state-of-the-art within the areas of Sustainability, Radical Innovation, Service design, Sociotechnical transitions and Business models innovation
  2. developing a research based conceptual frame for radical sustainable building innovation
  3. facilitate the collection of a dynamic repository of sustainable technologies and building materials
  4. analyzing existing practices of construction and associated business opportunities for the industrial partners
  5. designing a toolkit radical sustainable innovation in construction based on design thinking
  6. testing and evaluating the developed toolkit through workshops for the industrial partners.

Candidates should have a master’s degree in engineering or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to the master’s degree in engineering. The interdisciplinary nature of the project means that applicants from a broad range of technical backgrounds will be considered.

Applicants should have (or expect to obtain by the start date) a first class degree or equivalent, preferably in engineering management, project & construction management or innovation and strategic management. Outstanding grades are a prerequisite (see admission requirements). Knowledge and experience in Sustainability, Radical Innovation, Service Design, Sociotechnical transitions and Business model innovation is desirable.

Preference will be given to those candidates with a high level of English and another Scandinavian language who can demonstrate an aptitude for conceptual and empirical work and the confidence to actively engage with academic and industrial communities.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarships for the PhD degree are subject to academic approval, and the candidates will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes of DTU. For information about the general requirements for enrolment and the general planning of the scholarship studies, please see the DTU PhD Guide.

The assessment of the applicants will be made by a committee formed by representatives of the industry partners as well as the supervising team represented by the main supervisor Assoc. Prof. Christian Thuesen (DTU) and the co-supervisors Professor Christian Koch (Chalmers), Professor Thomas Berker (NTNU).

We offer
We offer an interesting and challenging job in an international environment focusing on education, research, public-sector consultancy and innovation, which contribute to enhancing the economy and improving social welfare. We strive for academic excellence, collegial respect and freedom tempered by responsibility. The Technical University of Denmark (DTU) is a leading technical university in northern Europe and benchmarks with the best universities in the world.

Salary and appointment terms
The salary and appointment terms are consistent with the current rules for PhD degree students. The period of employment is 3 years starting from September 1st.

The primary work workplace is the DTU Lyngby Campus in Copenhagen but extended research stays at Chalmers and NTNU will be planned from the beginning of the project.

Further information
For informal enquiries, please contact Assoc. Prof. Christian Thuesen at [email protected].

You can read more about the Engineering Systems Group here.

Please submit your online application no later than July 3 2015. Applications must be submitted as one pdf file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link “Apply online,” fill in 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 (an official translation into English)
  • 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.

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