Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) enables excellent Chinese students to obtain their PhD degrees at TU/e with a 4-year scholarship from the CSC. Students from all Chinese universities are eligible for this program. The program aims to foster long-term research co-operation between Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and Chinese universities. Students who receive a scholarship are provided with a living allowance as prescribed by the Chinese Government for the term of the scholarship, return airfare to the Netherlands by the most economical route, student visa fees and the cost of health insurance for international students.


Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) is among the top 100 universities according to the QS Global World Ranking. It is located in a highly industrialized region, known as ‘Brainport’. This region is internationally recognized as a top technology area with a special focus on the integration of design and technology. The department of Industrial Design was established in close collaboration with the technological industry, and, because of this, focuses its research on the Design of Systems with Emerging Technologies in a Societal Context.

PhD program Industrial Design

Changing demographics and social structures are putting several key human values of modern society under serious pressure; these include social inclusion, sustainable healthcare and healthy ageing. Department of Industrial Design envisions a world where these fundamental human values are addressed through interactive and evolving product-service-systems. The goal is to empower people towards a state of complete physical, mental, emotional and social well-being, through the creation of interactive and (co-)evolving systems where future technologies and humans co-adapt to achieve qualities beyond utility and usability.

As a PhD student, you will work on research topics related to the aspects above by exploring future technology (Research-through-Design) through probing prototypes in everyday-life settings (e.g. Experiential Design Landscapes).

Expected Background

Applicants to this PhD research shall have a background in industrial design, digital arts and interactive media, human-computer interaction, computer science, information technology, electrical engineering, biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering and physics.

Research Topics

We are aiming at recruiting up to 4 CSC PhDs in 2019. The applicants can apply for one of the following research directions under two different research clusters:

Future Everyday

The Future Everyday cluster investigates the everyday interactions between individual people and the highly interconnected technology that surrounds them. We measure, model and design for the user experience when individuals interact with social-technological networks in their homes, at work, in transit, while doing sport or going out.

  1. Systems of Smart Things. In the Future Everyday, humans will interact with things in their daily life, everywhere and all the time. Such things are essentially interactive, intelligent products and they are increasingly inter-connected within the home and in the world. The research direction “Systems of Smart Things” investigates how things can meaningfully connect, how they can form dynamic product groups and share data. This research project aims for extending systems with a layer of indoor-positioning information, so future products can adapt their behavior based on their precise location in the home or work place and also based on which other products are nearby. We will use emerging indoor-positioning technologies, such as active UWB tags, which allow to integrate accurate positioning data into designed prototypes and, over time, integrally into the design process around future connected products. In this project we aim to establish a link between the emerging technologies, interactive installations that demonstrates the value to end-users, and design methods and tools that can be used by designers and design students. The PhD student will collaborate with other international researchers in the new “FE Things Ecology” lab and help strategically advance the research line on “Systems of Smart Things”. This research project will have implications for future healthcare, lifelong learning, and graceful ageing as well as domestic sustainability and smart mobility. Depending on the progress of the project, links to industrial partner will be established. This research project requires skills in software programming (Java, Python, C, C++, or C#) and hardware prototyping. We welcome applicants with a master degree in Computer Science or related disciplines.

  2. Collaborations with Intelligent Machines. Industrial design is the art of making creative use of the possibilities of industrial production systems. Now, as the production floor is increasingly dominated by semi-autonomous systems, we may reconsider how these systems influence our ways of working and design with, against or alongside them. We have the opportunity to bring design into the center of such complex systems, by collaborating with and understanding the technologies that made them (AI, machine learning, algorithms) and by finding designerly uses for both their stated functions and their fringe capabilities and potential errors. Software and hardware systems are increasingly “helping” the user deal with complexity in ways that are becoming less transparent, resulting in outcomes with a high degree of “sameness”. This is especially an issue to creative expert user groups where sameness has little-to-no value and introduces the risk of an impoverished set of new expressions and designs. Can we use computational systems for diversity, novelty, serendipity, or unexpectedness in the form of surprise, opposition and obstruction? This would open up two areas of research: The connection of traditional artistic practices with computational systems in order to provide more creative interactions with machines, and secondly, the use of algorithms as a means to recommend degrees of difference instead of sameness; with a particular focus on soft and flexible materials and machines that knit, embroider, weave and extrude substate. The ideal profile would be a technically minded creative student, with flair for hacking code and mechanical systems in order to arrive at complex conceptual and aesthetic outcomes. Such expertise is often found amongst artists, designers and engineers and in particular those with a background in computer art, applied industrial robotics, digital music production and design. The work would be conducted in a lab with complex machines for the production of fabrics, e-textiles and other soft things.

  3. Shape Changing Interfaces. In the last two decades, the field of interaction design has shifted its attention from on screen interfaces to physical interactive artefacts and materials and more recently to shape changing interfaces for their potential as intuitive controls or as means for interactive data representations in physical form. Research in shape changing interfaces has so far considered the opportunities interactive materials and actuated objects can open up to create objects that are interacted by single users, supporting intuitive and natural interaction, ease of learning and aesthetic interactivity. Yet, in everyday use data are frequently shared, consumed, or produced by small groups of people. Various frameworks for collocated collaboration inform the design of artefacts for discussion, analysis, and exploration. This PhD shall explore how shape change can serve as tools or props to support the joint decision making by small groups of people. The project shall follow a design driven research approach to explore new opportunities for using interactive materials in supporting collocated groups to work with data. Based on design and empirical evaluations exploratory prototypes this research will derive a set of global design considerations for designing shape changing artefacts and how they can support joint understanding, hypothesis generation, and decision-making. Applications in a health behavior change and education context will be examined. This research will emphasize the role new materials can play in these contexts, their capabilities and the opportunities they open up for interaction design research.

Systemic Change

The Systemic Change cluster focuses on designing innovations that have impact on systemic structures and groups of people, ultimately aiming to address large-scale issues such as urban health, future mobility and sustainability. Field data is used in novel iterative and circular research-through-design processes involving strategic alliances of stakeholders.

  1. Dynamic (data-enabled) visualization of complex sociotechnical systems to enhance reflection, communication and design. The Systemic Change group uses design and technology to study socio-technical systems (from micro-macro, with an emphasis on the community level), by designing interventions addressing societal challenges and analyzing their effects on a systemic level. This research merges various fields including design research, social sciences and humanities, engineering, computer and data science. The complexity of these emergent patterns and behavior through these socio-technical systems are very hard to grasp and externalize, so that multi-stakeholder design teams can work with it. The amount of data, the dynamics, the relevance as well as the invisibility and elusiveness make these larger multi-stakeholder design projects around large societal challenges very complicated. In this project we aim at turning data into a design material, with an emphasis on finding ways to include the invisible, the fluid and the ungraspable, thus merging data that can easily be sensed (e.g. people’s movement) and easily obtained (e.g. statistics about populations and environments), with data that is harder to capture (e.g. the dynamics between hundreds of people’s feelings and motivations in social settings). Moreover, we aim at making this design material accessible for all stakeholders working within the project. We are looking for a PhD that has excellent skills in media, data visualization/ data science and design, next to communicative and empathic skills to work in multi-stakeholder teams.

  2. Micro-meso-macro. Many societal challenges require a systemic approach towards change. An approach where multiple stakeholders together create insight in the challenge at hand, and explore possible directions for systemic change. Cyber-physical systems become an integral part of cyber-physical-social (CPS) systems that weave into the socio-technical fabric of human society. These hybrid systems, exhibiting both continuous (in physical and social spaces) and discrete (in cyberspaces) dynamic behavior, give rise to not only new opportunities but also new challenges in designing new products and services where human and technical aspects are massively intertwined in synergy, at the cross-section of 1) emerging socio cyber-physical systems (related also to complexity) and 2) micro-meso-macro scales. This PhD research is to explore How designers and multistakeholder design teams work with technology and develop emerging socio cyber-physical systems while shifting between micro, meso and macro scales, and how the principles of micro (which traditional designers are familiar with) can be connected to the other scales? We are looking for a PhD with excellent skills in interaction design, prototyping and experimenting with socio-technical systems in multistakeholder settings.

Application Procedure

It is a two-step process:

  1. Applying with us. According to the quality of the application documents, you might be invited for an interview (video conferencing, if necessary). If the interview gives positive advice, you will be offered with the admission letter, with a tuition fee waiver.
  2. Applying at CSC. We will help you adjust, refine and improve your research proposal, and help you improve the quality of other application documents. We will assist and advise you throughout the CSC application process.

If you are interested in applying, please first address your interest to dr. Jun Hu: j.hu@tue.nl as early as possible for questions and guidance, and later prepare the following documents and submit them to j.hu@tue.nl, with "CSC PhD application 2019" in the subject:

  1. Curriculum Vitae
  2. Research plan according to one of the aforementioned topics (no more than 4-pages of A4 in English, Including Background, Objectives and Research questions, Methodology, Planning, Expected results, Feasibility, Future Plan after your PhD, and References).
  3. Motivation letter (no more than 1-page A4).
  4. Copy of Master Degree (if available, or a letter from your university to prove that you are expected to graduate in due time).
  5. Letter of recommendation from your supervisor at the home university.
  6. Any indication of your English level (IELTS 6.5 or TOEFL 95, or equivalent) according to the requirements from CSC (http://www.csc.edu.cn/) and TU/e.

  7. If you have a design or art background, portfolio of your design or artwork.

If these documents are too big to be attached to an email, you are advised to simply send in a link to a single online ZIP file that contains all the documents.


Please notice the deadlines: February 15, 2019 at TU/e; Deadline for applying at CSC is March 31, 2019 (please check the CSC website http://www.csc.edu.cn/). For a better support for your application, we would encourage you to apply as early as possible.

For more information

For more information, please contact dr. Jun Hu: j.hu@tue.nl

More about research at ID, TU/e: https://www.tue.nl/en/our-university/departments/industrial-design/research/

More about the requirements in applying for the Scholarship from China Scholarship Council (CSC) for Chinese PhD candidates: http://www.csc.edu.cn

JunHu: CSC/2019 (last edited 2019-10-31 06:23:29 by JunHu)