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PhD on Social Robots to Support Daily Activities in Older Adults

Norwegian University of Science and Technology

At the Department of ICT and Natural Sciences, we have a vacancy for a Ph.D. candidate on Social Robots to Support Daily Activities in Older Adults in a Care Home.

The PhD position is linked to the social robots lab in Ålesund, and the NTNU Health project EXACT in Trondheim.

By the year 2030, more than 15% of the world population will be aged 65 years or more, and according to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, by 2060 every fifth person in Norway will be aged 70 or over. As the life expectancy and population of older adults increase, so does the collective need for assistance and health care, resulting in new public health challenges. Especially critical is the situation for older adults that live in care facilities because of reduced physical and/or cognitive functioning. Here, increased effort is needed to ensure their inclusion and participation without adding to the workload of the staff. A promising solution to help overcome these challenges is the use of AI and robotics to deliver and support activities in several domains, such as physical exercises, cognitive games, social engagement, and entertainment. Increased participation in these activities can support their cognitive, social, and physical functioning and increase their quality of life, without adding to the burden of health care personnel. Therefore, the aim of this project is to identify the possible benefits and challenges associated with the use of social robots and develop a robot-based solution that can support the inclusion and activation of older adults living in care facilities.

This PhD project is a part of the PERSEUS doctoral programme: A collaboration between NTNU – Norway’s largest university, 11 top-level academic partners in 8 European countries, and 8 industrial partners within sectors of high societal relevance.
Within PERSEUS, we will recruit 40 PhD candidates who want to contribute to a smart, safe and sustainable future. We are looking for highly skilled PhD candidates motivated to approach societal challenges within one of the following thematic areas:

•    Big data and AI
•    Digital Twins
•    Internet of Things
•    Extended Reality
•    Information and Cyber Security

All participants in the PERSEUS network bring unique and important qualities with them into the doctoral programme. The PERSEUS PhD candidates will have the opportunity to collaborate with researchers in the partner institutions and in other project consortia, and benefit from these collaborative research and education activities.

As part of the PERSEUS team you will work alongside other highly motivated and talented PhD candidates and researchers. You will also have access to the knowledge base, state-of-the-art research infrastructure, and impact orientation of the partners in the team.In addition to your education and development within the thematic research area, you will gain transferable skills within project development and management, science communication, research ethics, innovation and entrepreneurial thinking, as well as basic university didactics.

As a PERSEUS PhD candidate, you will be employed by NTNU. During your stay, you will do a 2-3 month international stay and a 1-2 month national stay with one of the PERSEUS partners. This will allow you to extend your network within academia and industry, and to learn about your research area from an academic, innovation, and societal perspective.

The duration of the PhD employment is 36 months.

Starting gross salary is 491 200 NOK/year (equal to approx. 50.133 EUR/year by the exchange rate of May 2021).

We are looking for PhD candidates from all nationalities, who want to contribute to our quest to create knowledge for a better world. PERSEUS recruits candidates according to the EU’s mobility rule, i.e. applicants cannot have spent more than 12 months in Norway during the last 3 years.

We believe in fair and open processes. All applications will be considered through a transparent evaluation procedure, with independent observers involved.

The position’s working place is at the NTNU campus in Ålesund, at the Department of ICT and Natural Sciences. You will report to the Head of the Department.

We look forward to welcome you to the PERSEUS team.

Duties of the position

Duties of the position

  • The PhD candidate is expected to design, explore, and investigate a socially intelligent robot solution to support older adults by delivering opportunities for daily activities in various domains (physical activity, memory, cognition, etc.). The project focuses on care home settings and the solution should help older adults to be more active and engaged, without increased dependence on the staff, thereby increasing quality of life. The developed robotic solution is expected to have enough autonomy to not add to the workload of the staff, without compromising safety and quality of care. Focus will be on both solution development and practical implementation.
  • undertaking the necessary courses (30 ECTS) as part of the PhD programme;
  • submitting an application for admission and a research plan no later than 3 months after the employment;
  • conducting high quality research and report progress on a regular basis and in agreement with the supervisors.

Required selection criteria

  • International mobility requirements: Applicants of any age and any nationality will be eligible as far as they fulfil the mobility requirement of the COFUND programme, namely, the applicants must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the host organization (Norway) for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the call deadline of PERSEUS.
  • Education requirements: 5 years of higher education (BSC and MSC) or education equal to (300 ECTS). The grade requirements are B or higher (based on NTNU’s grading scale). Education will have to be documented by diploma supplement or equivalent documentation in English and include a description of the educational system. International Relations do require Chinese diplomas to be verified using CHSI. The NTNU Office of International Relations will evaluate degrees and diplomas.
  • Language skill requirements: The applicants will be asked to provide evidence of good English language skills, written and spoken. The following certificates may be used as such evidence: TOEFL, IELTS or Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) or Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE).
  • Export of Knowledge Control: The PhD candidates who, based on a comprehensive first-hand assessment, might come into conflict with legislation governing exports of knowledge, technology and services will not advance further from the first stage in the recruitment process. For further information, please refer to the Export Control Act.

In addition, the candidate must have:

  • a solid background in robot operating system (ROS), strong programming skills, and knowledge of opencv
  • experience with human computer interaction (HCI)
  • genuine interest in developing technology for better care

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and Regulations concerning the degrees of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) and Philosodophiae Doctor (PhD) n artistic research national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant  

Preferred selection criteria

  • hands-on experience in machine vision and machine learning
  • good research skills, including literature review and data analysis
  • good written and oral English
  • knowledge of Norwegian or another Scandinavian language is an advantage.

Personal characteristics

  • data analysis and problem-solving skills
  • project management and organization skills
  • ability to work both independently and in a team
  • commitment and delivery with respect to deadlines

The supervisory team consists of Professor Ibrahim A. Hameed, and Associate Professor Anniken Sussanne T. Karlsen at the Department of ICT and Natural Sciences, Faculty of Information Technology, Mathematics and Electrical Engineering, and Professor Beatrix Vereijken and Associate Professor Nina Skjæret Maroni at the Department of Neuromedicine and Movement Science, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 491 200 per annum before tax, depending on qualifications and seniority. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 3 years.

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in Computer Science within three months of employment, and that you participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period.

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

It is a prerequisite you can be present at and accessible to the institution daily.

About the application

The application and supporting documentation to be used as the basis for the assessment must be in English.

Publications and other scientific work must follow the application. Please note that applications are only evaluated based on the information available on the application deadline. You should ensure that your application shows clearly how your skills and experience meet the criteria which are set out above.

Please submit your application electronically via Jobbnorge website. Applications submitted elsewhere/incomplete applications will not be considered. Applicants must upload the following documents within the closing date:

  • CV including information relevant for the qualifications, submitted together with an identification document
  • Name, current affiliation and email address of at least 2 persons that will provide reference for you
  • Certified copies of academic diplomas and transcripts and the reference letter
  • Applicants from universities outside of Norway will be requested to send a diploma supplement (or a similar document) which describes in details the study and grading system, and the rights for further studies associated with the obtained degree. Chinese applicants are required to provide confirmation of Master Diploma from China Credentials Verification (CHSI).
  • A research interest description (maximum 2 pages) that includes a short presentation of the motivation for a PhD study, suitability for the position and the applicant’s view towards listed research challenges as well as the theoretical and methodological approach to the challenges.
  • Scientific publications (if any). Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify your contribution to joint works, you must attach a brief description of your participation.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability.

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment – DORA.

General information

Working at NTNU

A good work environment is characterized by diversity. We encourage qualified candidates to apply, regardless of their gender, functional capacity or cultural background.

The city of Ålesund, with its population of 50 000, will provide you with plenty of opportunities to explore a region of Norway that is famous for its beautiful scenery with high mountains and blue fjords. Ålesund itself, with its Art Nouveau architecture, is by many considered to be the most beautiful city in Norway! The Norwegian welfare state, including healthcare, schools, kindergartens and overall equality, is probably the best of its kind in the world.

As an employee at NTNU, you must at all times adhere to the changes that the development in the subject entails and the organizational changes that are adopted.

In accordance with The Public Information Act (Offentleglova), your name, age, position and municipality may be made public even if you have requested not to have your name entered on the list of applicants.

If you have any questions about the position, please contact Professor Ibrahim A. Hameed, telephone +47 41315695, e-mail: If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact Maren Skuterud Rasmussen, e-mail:

If you are invited for interview you must include certified copies of transcripts and reference letters. Please refer to the application number 2021/43312 when applying.

Application deadline: 30.09.2021.

NTNU – knowledge for a better world

NTNU – knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

Department of ICT and Natural Sciences

Our campus in Ålesund works in a partnership with industry that is in a class of its own among Norwegian universities. This ensures a practical focus for our study programmes, while they are firmly anchored in modern theory. The Department offers programmes in automation engineering, computer engineering, electric power systems, simulation and visualization. Our research areas include autonomous vessels, robotics, cybernetics, medical technology and health informatics, and artificial intelligence. The Department of ICT and Natural Sciences is one of seven departments in the Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering .

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