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 7 CSC PhDs in 2020. The applicants can apply for one of the following research directions under 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. Designing perinatal life support systems (we seek designers). Neonatal Intensive Care Units are not an adequate substitute for the protective environment of the maternal womb for extremely premature born infants. The PhD project envisions a solution where maternal womb environment can be preserved outside the body of a woman by transferring the extremely premature infant to a perinatal life support (PLS) system, with the goal to delay and ease the transition to newborn life. The PhD position is about

    • the development, use and validation of a Perinatal Life Support system and in particular the development of the simulation(s) for medical training of this Perinatal Life Support system, or
    • designing and realizing prototypes for improving Comfort and Bonding of parents and the extremely premature born infant.
  2. Human Centred Artificial Intelligence (USI’s with AI expertise, or AI expertise). In recent years AI has been making strides and is becoming embedded in our daily life, empowering humans and enhancing their autonomy and quality of life. By the same token, AI can potentially reduce human autonomy when it acts autonomously, when it monitors and interprets human actions and emotions, and by its sheer complexity which makes it hard for users to understand and anticipate its operation. This tension between human and machine autonomy poses major scientific, technological and ethical challenges to the design of AI systems, and failing to consider this tension challenges social stability and democratic constitutions. It is thus vital to develop models and methods that can predict and evaluate how people respond to changing interactions with such a social and technological environment and that can guide the design of AI to be transparent and intelligible, and safeguarding people’s autonomy. This challenge is particularly acute for artificial autonomous systems that understand, predict, and respond to our internal states (thoughts, feelings, and goals) to recommend and/or take action within the emerging technological landscape of the Internet of things (IoT).

  3. Designing the experience and interior of vehicles in the age of automation (focus on human-computer interaction). Highly automated driving has great potential in terms of comfort and safety for the user. How this radical innovation changes our future everyday lives opens up a huge space for unsolved and challenging research questions. We want to study and design a seamless user-vehicle team, focusing on interactive human-system design aspects of future self-driving cars: We want to amplify the positive experiences of automated vehicles and diminish negative side-effects. This means to enable non-driving-related activities (NDAs) for future users whenever possible, while establishing calibrated trust, and support a natural and seamless interaction at different levels of automation in such a way that the vehicle feels like a teammate that supports when possible and gets most out of a drive. This way, our approach is completely different to an engineering approach for which automating as much as possible is the ultimate goal, not the optimal (team) experience. In our approach, this means that the level of automation could even be decreased to enrich the experience while not sacrificing safety. The specific focus of a potential PhD is on:

    • Interior design for automated vehicles and non-driving-related tasks: We investigate how vehicle interior and user interfaces can be adapted to support interactive NDAs. This can, for instance, relate to shape-changing interfaces that adapt to driving context (e.g., level of automation) and activity at hand or novel technologies like AR/ VR and windshield displays. We want to explore (the feasibility) of novel concepts with the ultimate goal to identify recommendations how to implement future in-vehicle interfaces and re-design the interior to increase comfort and well-being, usability, and user experience.
    • Establishing trust & creating awareness: So far, trust calibration in vehicle automation is still a challenge. Thus, one specific focus is to develop interactive means to establish and maintain trust in technology, both from the inside and outside of the car. This includes means to adapt awareness of the vehicle state and the detected context/environment.

Systemic Change

The Systemic Change cluster focuses on designing innovations that have an 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, with interests in the theoretical-philosophical consequences of merging micro-meso-macro.

  3. Acquiring complex real-life data patterns “in context”: how to design systems that, with full consent of the users, have the ability to, unobtrusively, analyze health related behavioral patterns including the relevant contextual/environmental parameters. The focus in this project is especially on vulnerable groups such as patients with chronic diseases and elderly people. The designed acquisition systems should meet very high demands with respect to robustness, reliability, privacy and respect for personal integrity and have the ability to work in a real-life context for these often vulnerable people.

Double PhD degree in collaboration with Zhejiang University

In the context of the ZJU-TU/e Joint Research Institute of Design, Optoelectronics and Sensing (IDEAS), the TU/e candidates will join the Collaborative efforts in design research on health-related applications utilizing the advances in optoelectronics and sensing technologies, aiming at double degrees from TU/e and ZJU, under the condition that the requirements of the degree conferment from each Institution are completed, complying to relevant regulations.

  1. Connected Everyday Objects for Managing Stress in Children. Research has shown that the use of robots is effective in helping children in mitigating stress and anxiety, and in improving their social skills, especially for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Both TU/e and ZJU have a track record in this research area, from the perspectives of human-computer interaction and utilizing new sensing technologies. The objectives of the proposed joint research are two-fold:

    • The first objective of this project is to embed the proven benefits of the robotic technologies with the everyday products that are equipped with advanced non-invasive sensing technologies that can provide context based on physiological measurements and other information that this sensing can provide, for managing stress in Children with ASD. We will also investigate how the collected data could be utilized in detecting patterns and abnormalities and in engaging social ties and professionals.
    • The second objective is to utilize the same technical platform for managing stress in Chinese children with high study load and expectations. In China, primary school children have to work hard even during the off school hours with heavy study load, due to the highly completive education system with emphasis on school performance, intolerance of failure and high expectations from parents, relatives and friends. Connected everyday objects would help the children to manage their stress with playful interaction. Connectivity would provide the information to social ties such as parents and teachers for proper social intervention if necessary, and for proactive co-management of the stress of children.
  2. Healthy diet is one of the key factors that can influence the prevention and management of chronic diseases. The primary concern has shifted from human undernutrition problems to chronic diseases such as cardio-vascular diseases (CVD), cancer and obesity. Attention is increasingly being focused on how food and nutrition be used in prevention strategies in relation to chronic disease and can contribute to quality of life for those living with chronic disease. How and where people eat is fundamental to how and what they eat and how it impacts on chronic illness. Therefore, studies need to take into account individual lifestyles, eating habits, and wellbeing management of chronic disease, explore what is needed to support individuals in the management of their condition. Changing people’s behaviors in relation to health eating and eating to manage chronic conditions is not a matter of simply identifying healthy foods and drawing up a nutrition plan accordingly. it is necessary to understand how food is bought, prepared, and consumed in a social and cultural context. Many commercial solutions present quantifiable data to users and assume the user knows which behavior to change and how to change this with successful long-term effects. They assume that by receiving information and prompting that individuals will regulate homeostatic and hedonic control of eating accordingly. The development of long-term sustainable healthy eating patterns using these solutions is yet to be confirmed. This project will employ an ecology approach by building frameworks that can apply smart technologies, in data driven approaches, applying motivational strategies and working with a stakeholder network and business models to support these programs and make them easier to be adopted by the CVD patients for sustainable daily usage. We are looking for a PhD candidate with a background in industrial design/computer science/biomedical engineering who is interested in design and research in creating meaningful smart solutions for behaviour change in the societal context.

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 2020" 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, 2020 at TU/e; Deadline for applying at CSC is March 31, 2020 (please check the CSC website http://www.csc.edu.cn/). For 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/2020 (last edited 2020-10-29 18:06:44 by JunHu)