PhD position vacancy

Automation of urban flow simulations with 3D City Models

The way we shape our cities can affect the levels of pedestrian wind, pollution dispersion, and heat exposure. Thanks to the growing computational resources and the advancements in automatic reconstruction of 3D city models, Computational Fluid Dynamics models (CFD) are often used to analyse the wind environment within rapidly changing urban environments. However, when performing CFD simulations, it is estimated that practitioners still spend large part of their time in reconstructing, through a semi-manual process, the input for the simulations (which include the generation of an appropriate 3D model and CFD mesh designs).

The overall goal of this fully-funded PhD position is to develop a framework to automatically construct CFD simulations inputs at different levels-of-detail (to support CFD at different urban scales) and ensure that these can be directly used in an urban simulation software. The project will focus on the link between the automatic creation of 3D city models and their usability in open-source CFD libraries, specifically OpenFOAM. The PhD will have to identify critical bottlenecks that slow down this connection, and develop open-source tools to generate the appropriate CFD inputs with minimal manual interaction.

The PhD candidate will use and modify open source software in development within the 3D geoinformation group, in particular the software 3dfier for geometry reconstruction and OpenFOAM libraries for the urban simulations. These models should serve as input for performing predictions of wind, temperature, and dispersion in evolving cities. Low and high-fidelity fluid dynamic simulations are envisioned within the research, as well as the postprocessing of local wind and temperature measurements acquired in urban experimental campaigns.

The project will take place in the 3D geoinformation group at TU Delft under the supervision of Dr Clara García-Sánchez and Dr Hugo Ledoux.

Research group

The 3D geoinformation research group, part of the Delft University of Technology, focuses on the technologies underpinning geographical information systems (GIS), and aims at designing, developing, and implementing better systems to model 3D cities, buildings and landscapes. It is a multidisciplinary group of around 20 people, including computer scientists, geomatics engineers, and geographers; 5 of them are tenured staff (1 professor, 1 associate-professor, and 3 assistant-professor). It has a history of successful collaborations with the industry and the government: its research has led to open source software, standards, and patents for the management of 3D geographic information.

Job requirements

We are looking for highly motivated candidates that hold an MSc degree (or almost completed) in aerospace engineering, civil and environmental engineering, geoinformatics/geomatics, computer science or in a related discipline.

Starting date is in consultation with the candidate (we aim at September 2020).

They are expected to have good programming skills, have experience with fluid dynamics, a good command of English (oral and written) and strong interest in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and computational geometry. Prior experience with CFD, GIS, and programming is highly desirable.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft

At the Delft University of Technology, a PhD student is a full-time employee of the university who gets paid a salary; no extra funding is necessary, and no tuition fees need to be paid. The gross salary is €2,325 per month for the 1st year, going up to €2,972 during the 4th year. TU Delft also offers an attractive benefits package, including a flexible work week and the option of assembling a customised compensation and benefits package. An International Children’s Centre offers childcare and an international primary school. Dual Career Services offers support to accompanying partners. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.

More information about doing a PhD at TU Delft and in the Netherlands can be found here and there.

How to apply

Your application should contain (these should be compiled into a single pdf file named: lastname_firstname_vacancynumber.pdf):

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Please email your application material to Jeannine Wellink (HR Advisor) ( and refer to vacancy number BK2020-03.

For more information about this position, please contact directly Dr Clara García-Sánchez (

The 3D geoinformation group currently has also an open PhD position on ‘3D city models for energy applications’. Candidates may apply to both positions with one application (and identify their preference).