UTFacultiesETResearchResearch Themes

Research Themes

Research at Engineering Technology

Research themes
Departments

Biomechanical Engineering (BE)

Civil Engineering and Management (CEM)

Design, Production and Management (DPM)

Mechanics of Solids, Surfaces and Systems (MS3)

Thermal and Fluid Engineering (TFE)

The Faculty of Engineering Technology has identified five research themes to stimulate and align the research within the five departments. For each research theme the societal challenges, research facilities and example projects are described. 

ASSET & MAINTENANCE ENGINEERING

Among the cornerstones of a society in transition are reliable, available, and cost-effective technical systems. By controlling functional performance, asset & maintenance engineers can support operational systems against uncertainty, fostering both a resilient and a circular use of precious resources.

SAFEGUARDING RELIABLE, AVAILABLE, COST-EFFECTIVE TECHNICAL SYSTEMS

We focus our asset & maintenance engineering work at the Faculty of Engineering Technology on capital-intensive infrastructures. The work includes predictive maintenance strategies for large assets, process industry, and infrastructure in a circular economy. We encourage a multidisciplinary approach to maintenance engineering, delving into the physics of failure and condition monitoring to data analysis, maintenance process optimisation, and logistical challenges. All of this is set in a double context of education and research.

Collaboration is fundamental: we partner with UT’s Asset Management and Maintenance Innovation Centre and the ‘Asset Management and Maintenance’ department of the Netherlands’ Royal Institute of Engineers, KIVI, alongside other faculties and national and international universities. Our research groups are aligned with UT’s drive towards a sustainable society, prioritising several of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 9, ‘Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure’.

  • Research facilities

    Across the ET faculty, many groups come together to address this research theme, setting up joint research projects. Experiments are performed in the Department of Mechanics of Solids, Surfaces & Systems labs. The creation of the Lifetime Performance Laboratory supports this research, alongside that of other research groups and industrial partners.

  • Example projects

    1.       NWA PrimaVera: predictive maintenance solutions for high-tech systems  
    Predictive maintenance offers new solutions for high-tech system maintenance. Integrating just-in-time maintenance remains challenging, and the PrimaVera project lays the foundations for better asset performance, lower cost, and autonomous maintenance. It does this by exploring: 

    • Novel combinations of model- and data-driven failure prediction techniques
    • Multi-scale optimisation techniques
    • An integrated approach to health predictions and maintenance optimisation

    2.       MX3D bridge: testing, monitoring, and maintaining the first 3D-printed metal bridge
    The first 3D-printed stainless-steel bridge, the MX3D bridge in Amsterdam, required a new level of monitoring. After load tests at the UT, our Construction Management and Engineering team, together with partners like Autodesk and The Alan Turing Institute, installed a sensor network for continuous monitoring. This boosts our understanding of intelligent algorithms, design, and maintenance communications.

     

    3.       BURWEAR: a lifetime prediction model for steel-producing rolls

    In steel production, timely roll replacement is vital. Together with Tata Steel, the Burwear project is developing a lifetime prediction model for the backup rolls. In backup rolls, two degradation mechanisms interact: wear and rolling contact fatigue. In this project, degradation phenomena will be modelled, experimentally validated, and utilized to optimize roll use.


Intelligent Manufacturing Systems

Manufacturing the goods people and society need in intelligent ways is a key to improving sustainability. In fact, smart manufacturing can help us to tackle many societal challenges, from climate change, resource scarcity and social welfare to global competition and profitability issues.

BUILDING INTELLIGENT MANUFACTURING SOLUTIONS TO ADVANCE SOCIETY

In the search for intelligent manufacturing solutions, the Faculty of Engineering Technology fuses knowledge of future-oriented processes with the unique ability to design, test, and integrate solutions across a variety of product, process, and system-level applications. We do this in close collaboration with many hands-on industrial partners. By seizing digital opportunities, we strive toward solutions that impact productivity, flexibility, and sustainability. In combination with tailored data acquisition, we´re establishing digital twins that enable advanced planning and operations in manufacturing, for example through model-based inline control of processes and systems. Our work contributes to several United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 9, ‘Industry, innovation, and infrastructure’, and SDG 12, ‘Responsible consumption and production’.

  • Research facilities

    Numerous researchers contribute to this theme, with research topics including:

    • Laser processing
    • Additive manufacturing
    • Industrial robotics
    • Product development
    • Manufacturing systems and factories
    • Forming technology
    • Composite production
    • Particle processing & simulation
    • Operations and design

    Each field has dedicated labs available on campus or with partners, such as the ThermoPlastic Composites Research Centre or the Advanced Manufacturing Centre.

  • Example projects

    1. Developing the workplace of the future
    The NWO’s Smart Industry project ‘Human Centered Smart Factories: design for wellbeing for future manufacturing’ utilizes innovative digital approaches to develop smart workstations that adapt to the unique physical and cognitive needs of a worker. The workstations are responsive in real-time and promote dynamic activities by understanding employees’ work context.

    2. Finding the optimum control points in manufacturing
    In Digital Twin’s project, researchers are developing a methodology to update physical models based on data from a multi-stage metal forming process. The resulting meta-models will be used to directly optimise and find the optimum control points in the multi-stage manufacturing process.


Personalised Health Technology

Personalised health technology is transforming healthcare in many ways. This revolutionary technology targets precise individual needs, making medical treatment both more effective and more accessible, thereby supporting public health and the well-being of our society.

A MEDICAL REVOLUTION WITH PERSONALISED HEALTH TECHNOLOGY

Operating where technological and medical sciences meet, our faculty’s work in the field of Personalised Health Technology centres on real-world health applications that target the needs of both patients and health professionals. Our teams support projects like disease prevention and detection, improved rehabilitation, surgical interventions, characterisation of biological tissue and fluidic flows, and healthcare design, including physical interaction and services.

With solutions like these, we are blazing new trails into the future of healthcare. Personalised health technology helps people to stay healthy, helps clinicians identify which diseases individuals are prone to, making diagnoses faster and minimising the effects of disease.

Our work on Personalised Health Technology ties in with the United Nations’ 3rd Sustainable Development Goal (SDG): ‘Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being’.


Resilience Engineering

In an interconnected and digital global society, even small disruptions can have far-reaching impacts. A society that faces complex challenges demands solutions not seen before: today’s engineers must engage in developing ‘anti-fragile’ systems that are prepared for the unexpected and become stronger under stress.

RESILIENT SOLUTIONS FOR A CONNECTED WORLD

We embed Resilience Engineering in a triple context of education, fundamental research, and beneficial real-world solutions that make our society stronger, safer, and more sustainable. At ET, we focus on remodelling energy, water, and transport infrastructure networks and supply chains. Within this framework, we prioritize integrative approaches. These include systems engineering and integration, nature-based solutions, water footprint assessment, decentral and decarbonised energy systems, and circular constructions for served and under-served communities.

As we work towards resilient solutions, we place people and the planet at the centre, linking to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, including the 9th: ‘Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation.’

  • Research facilities

    The mission to create a resilient society brings together several ET departments, including:

  • Example projects

    1. NEON: zero-emission energy and mobility systems
    The Department of Design, Product & Management collaborates with Dutch scientists in the multidisciplinary research programme NEON. The project aims to accelerate the transition into zero-emission energy and mobility systems. Through this, the team can investigate, and even direct, the impact of important interventions, like incentives and regulations

    2. Integrating climate-proof dikes and conserving the environment
    The Department of Civil Engineering & Management works with Dutch regional water authority Drents Overijsselse Delta (WDODelta) to integrate highwater protection and nature development. The programme explores nature-based solutions for dike reinforcement. While challenging, this solution brings together climate resilience, water safety, and nature conservation.

    3. Optimizing hydrogen pathways while reducing waste
    The Department of Thermal and Fluid Engineering collaborates with the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada to identify optimum hydrogen pathways from waste heat and water. The goal is to reduce grid load, helping to minimise waste and maximise energy security.


Sustainable production, Energy and Resources

Over three earths would be needed to meet the material, water, and energy demands of today’s global population if we continue to live the way are doing, according to UNICEF data published in 2022. Reducing our environmental footprint is a vital step toward a better future for all. Within our research theme sustainable production, energy, and resources (SuPER), our faculty faces this challenge head-on.

SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS MUST BE THE GOLD-STANDARD

Sustainable Production, Energy, and Resources (SuPER) at the ET faculty centres on exploring multidisciplinary approaches to sustainable ways of living. These include design processes, material development, and smart energy and resource integration. Our research focuses on assessing resource use, promoting sustainable energy in all forms, and understanding material flows.

From this research, we look to develop and implement real-world solutions. Examples include databases for water and land use of global crop production in high spatio-temporal resolution; circular products and systems; and parametric and prospective life cycle assessment methodologies for emerging technologies.

Through this work, we can foster a society founded upon circular resource management and sustainable solutions. SuPER contributes to several United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 6: ‘Clean water and sanitation’, SDG 7: ‘Affordable and clean energy’ and SDG 12: ‘Responsible consumption and production’

  • Research facilities

    Within the ET faculty, the SuPER topic is researched across all departments. Our Sustainable Elastomer Systems and ETE labs are well equipped for research, while the ASPARi knowledge network brings together UT researchers, Dutch contractors, and the national road and waterways agency. We also collaborate with universities across Europe, the United States, Australia, and China.

  • Example projects

    1. ‘Development of models to quantify the costs and environmental impacts of building construction demolition waste (CDW) valorisation in road transportation infrastructure’
    Construction Demolition Waste (CDW) is one of the largest waste flows in the world. CDW is frequently used in low-value applications, such as road base material. This project aims to develop models to quantify the costs and environmental impacts associated with the use of recycled building CDW materials in road transportation infrastructure.

    2. Earth@lternatives project: analysing global crop production
    Feeding the world without harming our planet is a major challenge of our time. This research project, funded by the European Research Council, will analyse the historical changes of water and land footprints of global crop production. Following this, researchers will propose caps and benchmarks to promote sustainable food production.