English version

Design and Development of Advanced Flexible Instruments for Surgical Robotics at University of Leuven, Belgium

(Ref. BAP-2017-65)

Tewerkstelling : Voltijds
Duur : Bepaalde duur verlengbaar
Plaats : Leuven
Solliciteren tot en met : 30/04/2017
For the Mechanical Engineering Technology TC, Campus Group T, Leuven, we are looking for a PhD candidate to work on the topic of

Design and Development of Advanced Flexible Instruments for Surgical Robotics at University of Leuven, Belgium

GROUP T - International Engineering School is an internationally oriented campus of the KU Leuven undertaking education, research, and rendering services in the fields of Engineering, Enterprising, and Educating. Campus GROUP T aims to create an environment in which students and professors alike can develop themselves by experiencing these core activities, both locally and internationally.

This position is embedded within the research group ‘Smart Instrumentation’ which is closely linked to the ‘Robot-Assisted Surgery’ (RAS)-group. The group’s laboratory is located in Heverlee, Celestijnenlaan 300B at walking distance from the university hospital and the campus Group T in the Dekenstraat where the didactic tasks will take place. The research group performs at an international top level thanks to a close collaboration between engineers from the engineering and science, engineering technology, biomedical engineering disciplines, clinicians and surgeons. Located just above the workshop, in the middle between the electronics lab and the robotics research group all technical and know-how is within close reach.


The advent of minimally invasive surgery caused a revolution in surgery, reducing the need to create large incisions, allowing surgeons to access the targeted organs and tissue through a number of long slender but rigid instruments. These days a 2nd technology-pushed evolution is taking place as attention shifts to developing flexible instruments to replace former rigid devices. These flexible instruments enter the body through similar or even smaller incisions. In contrast to their rigid counterparts flexible instruments can more easily adjust shape and conform to their surroundings. Aside from an increased dexterity (workspace) they are potentially safer in use. Being compliant they can give away upon contact and give the surgeon more time to react. As each patient is unique and no surgery identical patient-specific instrument design becomes of interest. Through dedicated design one can guarantee proper performance of these instruments under specific circumstances. Progress in manufacturing technology expands the search space here. With embedded sensing it becomes further possible to improve the understanding of the instrument’s configuration or from the tissue that is treated. This information can then be used to improve the controllability of the new line of instruments.

The Smart Instrumentation and Robot-Assisted Surgery (RAS) group has gained substantial expertise in developing and controlling advanced instruments through its various international projects: SCATh and CASCADE, EU-funded FP7-projects dealt with smart robotic catheters;GIFT-Surg project, a Wellcome-Trust EPSRC-funded project focuses on fetal surgery; PRESLICE addresses ENT surgery.

Within this PhD the candidate will investigate dedicated manufacturing techniques for a new line of advanced flexible surgical instruments. Based on a profound understanding of the different characteristics of the manufacturing process, he/she will then design, manufacture, assemble and finally control new advanced instruments for various applications. A strong affinity with mechanical design, machining,precision mechanics is therefore very much welcomed. Apart from tailoring these instruments for a particular application, through this PhD we seek to understand and address the requirements necessary to bring this technology right into the clinic. Issues like mass-manufacturing, bio-compatibility,sterilization and safety – will need to be addressed in order to allow validation in clinical trials.


We are looking for enthusiastic candidates in the possession of a Master degree in mechanical engineering, mechatronics, robotics, biomechanical engineering, computer science or similar.Applications should contain a C.V., a cover letter describing research interests and goals, a full list of publications, names and contact information for up to three references (letters of recommendation can be included to strengthen further the application).

  • You have a master's degree in engineering (technology) or equivalent.
  • You have the required critical attitude and perseverance to participate in research (projects) and to work towards a PhD degree.
  • You work independently and pro-actively; you have a sense of order, are accurate and immune to stress.
  • You have an analytic mind, you are result driven and student oriented.
  • You are an enthusiastic, enterprising team player with resourceful ideas. You are always on the look-out for improvements; you experiment with new concepts, and solve problems in a creative and transparent way.
  • You assist in teaching activities through project work, exercise and lab sessions. You can kindle students' enthusiasm for your field of study.
  • You want to dedicate yourself to spreading the mission and values of the faculty: you are open to other cultures and perspectives on the world at large and are motivated to work internationally.
  • You are proficient in English.


Full-time employment as a doctoral student starting April 1 (or later) for a period of one year with renewal after positive evaluation. In addition you are required to start with the Arenberg Doctoral School program and supervise students during the lab/exercise sessions of the Bachelor and/or Master in Engineering Technology.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Emmanuel Vander Poorten, tel.: +32 16 32 25 28, mail: emmanuel.vanderpoorten@kuleuven.be.

You can apply for this job no later than April 30, 2017 via the

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