PhD Scholarship in Design By Prototyping - From Idea To Product Realization

A PhD position is available at Technical University of Denmark. This fellowship is available for all students around the world. Applicants should apply before October 10, 2018.

The research focus in the Engineering Design and Product Development section at DTU, Department of Mechanical Engineering is improvement in the efficiency and quality of product development processes as carried out in an industrial context. This is achieved through analysis of industrial development work and by developing and improving systematic methods that support design professionals and development groups. Currently the research is organized around four areas: conceptualization, product-service systems, robust design and platform-based product development.

The PhD Scholarship is related to the cross-cutting research areas of conceptualisation, prototyping and product realisation.

Responsibilities and tasks

Product development in an entrepreneurial environment -whether as a small start-up or a project team in a large company- is always a struggle. Attracting investment, getting approvals and securing cash flow depends on making and demonstrating prototypes with different functions; such as proof-of-concept prototypes to attract customer and stakeholder interest, engineering prototypes to ensure that the concept is functional, viable and feasible and design validation prototypes to communicate with the manufacturers and make sure that the product is manufacturable. In this regard, what to prototype and how to prototype are two critical questions that needs to be constantly addressed by designers, engineers and innovators.

Despite having a central role in product development, prototyping is a rather neglected area of research. The emerge of the contemporary design frameworks and methodologies such as agile, lean product development and design sprints; coupled with the rise of fabLabs, makerspaces and innovation hubs makes the importance of prototyping even more pronounced in modern product development. This project aims to have a holistic look this issue and investigate the characteristics of different types of prototypes and the processes for different types of prototyping activities throughout the whole product development process; from an early idea (0) to proof of concept (1), from pilots (n) to production verification prototypes (N). In this regard, some of the research questions this project will address are:
- What are the different types of prototypes produced over the course of product development? (taxonomy) What are their purpose and how does the required fidelity change over the course of the development process?
- How to manage the tacit knowledge that comes out of the prototyping process and the prototype itself? How to develop prototype knowledge management strategies?
- How prototyping in later stages (1 to n, n to N) of product development -where most projects fail- can benefit from new (digital) technologies for product design, prototyping and manufacturing?
- How can we develop prototyping strategies? How do different prototyping processes correlate with the resulting prototypes?
- From the context of facilitating prototyping, what are the best practices for the utilisation of (university) makerspaces and how can knowledge be transferred across institutions?

We believe that investigating these research questions raised above can both advance the understanding the role of prototyping in engineering design as well as support the fabLabs, makerspaces and prototyping labs in large companies on their path to transition from facilities to innovation hubs.

The project aims to find the answers to these questions through partnerships and field work; so it is expected that the PhD student will play a role in establishing contact and collaborating with start-ups, SMEs, companies, consultancies, manufacturers, funding bodies (angels, VCs), makerspaces and academic institutions, whenever it is relevant and necessary.

Particularly, the project will be carried out in alliance with Product Development and Lightweight Design Lab at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), Section for Engineering Design and Product Developmet at DTU and the state-of-the-art innovation hubs of these two partner universities: DTU Skylab and Unternehmer-TUM.


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.

Approval and Enrolment

The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide.

We offer

DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms

The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

The main place of work will be DTU Lyngby campus, but the PhD student is expected to have research stay(s) at TUM and to be involved in research activities at the Product Development and Lightweight Design Lab and educational initiatives at UnternehmerTUM, such as Think.Make.Start.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

Further information

Further information may be obtained from Associated Professor Ali Ozkil, e-mail:

You can read more about Department of Mechanical Engineering at


Please submit your online application no later than 10 October 2018 (local time). Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link “Apply online”, fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:
- Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here)

Interviews will be conducted on a rolling basis, so please send your application as soon as possible.

Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master’s degree but cannot begin before having received it.

DTU Mechanical Engineering covers the fundamental engineering disciplines within Solid mechanics, Fluid mechanics, Coastal and Maritime Engineering, Energy systems and energy conversion, Materials and Surface Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, Engineering design and Product development. The department has a scientific staff of about 157 persons, 95 PhD students and a technical/administrative support staff of about 85 persons.


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