Research Vacancies

PhD Fellowship, Application of robotics in floating wind operations and maintenance (O&M)

Job Posted: 12 Jun 2020
Closing Date for Applications: 17 Aug 2020
School: MaREI Centre
College: College of Science, Engineering and Food Science
Contract Type: Fixed Term Whole-Time
Job Type: Research
Salary: see advert for details

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - Application of robotics in floating wind operations and maintenance (O&M) 

Position Summary

This PhD Fellowship is part of the STEP4WIND project which is funded under the prestigious Marie Skłodowska-Curie H2020 ITN Research Program. This project is focused on addressing the main challenges facing the large-scale deployment of floating wind turbine arrays. The successful candidate will join a team of 10 early stage researchers working under the guidance of leading EU academics and industry partners to accelerate the commercialisation of these highly promising renewable energy technologies.

The work of this PhD Candidate is focused specifically on the use of robotics to support operations and maintenance activities and to reduce the need for marine activities involving personnel. Such technologies will play an important role in improving health and safety (H&S) and the economics of floating wind energy in harsh far from shore environments.

MaREI Centre Background

This PhD Candidate will be based in the MaREI Centre, Ringaskiddy, Cork, Ireland for a period of 18 months during this fellowship. 

MaREI is a key research centre within UCC’s Environmental Research Institute (ERI), which is an internationally recognised Institute for environmental research dedicated to the understanding and protection of our natural environment and to developing innovative technologies, tools and services to facilitate a transformation to a zero carbon and resource efficient society. The MaREI Centre is an SFI funded research centre headquartered in the ERI in UCC. The MaREI Centre includes eleven other Universities and Third Level Institutes, has 50 industrial partners and has research funding of approximately €55m. It combines the expertise of a wide range of research groups and industry partners, with the shared mission of solving the main scientific, technical and socio-economic challenges across the marine and renewable energy spaces.  MaREI is also funded by SEAI, EI, EPA, ERDF, EU, HEA, Marine Institute, DCCAE and IRCSET IRC, as well as through contributions from our industry partners. Researchers in the MaREI Centre have over 30 years of experience in conducting fundamental and applied research supported by competitively won national and international funding, and commercial contracts with government agencies and industry. MaREI’s strengths lie in the multi-disciplinary nature of its research teams and its links with the School of Engineering in UCC, allowing it to combine insights across areas such as MRE Technologies, Materials & Structures, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Observations & Operations, Coastal & Marine Systems, Bioenergy, Energy Policy & Modelling, and Renewable Energy Management.

ORE Catapult Background

This PhD Candidate will be seconded to ORE Catapult, Glasgow, Scotland for a period of 18 months during this fellowship.

ORE Catapult is the UK’s flagship technology innovation and research centre for advancing offshore wind, wave and tidal energy. It is a leading, independent, cross-disciplined research and development platform serving utility companies, developers, manufacturers and investors in new energy technologies. In partnership with industry, it is achieving new breakthroughs in the design, deployment and commercialisation of renewable energy technologies, shaping the future through innovation. Its staff has a wide range of practical experience to support the development and testing facilities at ORE Catapult, helping to bridge the gap between innovation and commercialisation. A number of employees sit on key industry steering groups and advisory boards.

STEP4WIND background

STEP4WIND is a European Industrial Doctorate programme, granted under the H2020 Marie-Curie Innovative Training Network initiative (H2020-MSCA-ITN-2019, grant agreement 860737). The programme runs between April 2020 and March 2024 and will deliver 10 PhD degrees, in joint supervision and training between the public and private sectors. The main objective is to address both technological and economical challenges related to the commercialisation of floating offshore wind farms.

Description of Research topic

The installation, O&M and decommissioning processes for fixed offshore wind energy represent a significant proportion of the total cost of an offshore wind farm due to the challenges of working at sea.

In the context of floating wind farms, there is a significant added challenge due to the fact that both vessel and the turbine motions are impacted by the prevailing metocean conditions. The work of this PhD will be focused on the use of robotics to carry out diagnostic and O&M activities in order to improve H&S, reduce asset down time and the requirement for expensive marine activities.

Year 1 will start with a literature study of the potential robotic and other solutions that could enhance floating offshore wind O&M. Using this knowledge, a Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) will be performed for these new technologies incorporating market analysis and technology design.

In Year 2, a bottom-up financial model will be developed for floating offshore wind turbine O&M and integrated in a multidisciplinary analysis and optimisation framework which will be developed by another PhD candidate within the STEP4WIND project.

Year 3 will quantify H&S and cost impact of using robotic solutions. The applicability of these solutions to other life cycle phases will be reviewed by further developing the O&M cost model into a full life cycle model, in collaboration with project colleagues.

Key duties and responsibilities 

The PhD candidate will conduct a specified programme of research aligned with the work of the STEP4WIND project and the expertise of supervisors in MaREI and ORE Catapult. 


  • Minimum 2H1 (second class honours, grade 1) honours degree (or equivalent) in a related scientific or engineering discipline. Anticipated results are sufficient if the candidate has not completed their degree programme at the time of application.
  • Preferably a MSc. (or equivalent qualification) in related engineering or scientific discipline.
  • Demonstrable capability of working within a project team and ability to innovate.
  • Good communication, organisation and interpersonal skills.
  • Experience in the design and testing of robotic technologies would be preferable.
  • Excellent academic English writing skills.
  • Candidates must have resided or carried out their main activity outside of Ireland for more than 24 months in the 3 years immediately prior to their recruitment.
  • Candidates must, at the time of recruitment, be in the first four years of their research careers and have not previously been awarded a doctoral degree.

Salary:  €3270 per month, plus mobility allowance and family allowance for eligible candidates, subject to taxation and country specific adjustments. Full details of allowance can be found here.

Duration: 36 months


For informal enquiries on the post candidates should contact: 

Name: Dr Cian Desmond

Title: Research Fellow

Email :

To Apply:

Please send:

  1. Short cover letter describing your motivation for applying for the position and how your experience and expertise match the research topic.
  2. CV.

To Ms Grainne Lynch (, on or before the closing date 17th August 2020.

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