Postdoctoral Researcher Reinforcement Learning for Process Control and Optimization

Job description


imec is the world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. The combination of our widely acclaimed leadership in microchip technology and profound software and ICT expertise is what makes us unique. By leveraging our world-class infrastructure and local and global ecosystem of partners across a multitude of industries, we create groundbreaking innovation in application domains such as healthcare, smart cities and mobility, logistics and manufacturing, and energy.

As a trusted partner for companies, start-ups and universities we bring together close to 3,500 brilliant minds from over 70 nationalities. Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium and also has distributed R&D groups at a number of Flemish universities, in the Netherlands, Taiwan, USA, China, and offices in India and Japan. All of these particular traits make imec to be a top-class employer.

 University of Antwerp – imec IDLab Research group

The Internet & Data Lab (IDLab) is an imec research group at the University of Antwerp and Ghent University. IDLab focuses its research on internet technologies and data science. IDLab is a joint research initiative between Ghent University and the University of Antwerp. Bringing together 300 internet experts, we develop technologies outperforming current solutions for communication subsystems, high speed and low power networking, distributed computing and multimedia processing, machine learning, artificial intelligence and web semantics. Within Antwerp, the overall IDLab research areas are machine learning and wireless networking.  IDLab has a unique research infrastructure used in numerous national and international collaborations.   

IDLab collaborates with many universities and research centres worldwide and jointly develops advanced technologies with industry (R&D centers from international companies, Flanders’ top innovating large companies and SMEs, as well as numerous ambitious startups).


For further development of the IDLab AI Applications program, we are looking for an AI senior researcher who facilitates and leads research projects in close collaboration with industry.

The AI Applications team aims to bring state-of-the-art machine learning methods to industry, bridging the gap between fundamental research and industrial applications. The team performs applied and fundamental research in areas such as data-driven modeling, deep learning and reinforcement learning to tackle real world challenges in industry. Our goal is to make AI safely and reliably applicable in an industrial context, where it should complement, enhance, or replace the state of the art in complex control scenarios where current techniques fail to deliver. The team applies its AI solutions in domains such as chemical and pharmaceutical engineering, thermal grids, water treatment, and food manufacturing, in collaboration with key industry partners in their respective domains.

For our AI research concerning process control we are looking for a senior researcher to lead ongoing research projects, drive consortium building and develop new research proposals. You will participate in international (e.g., Horizon Europe) and national projects (e.g., imec ICON, bilateral projects), where the aim is to develop novel AI-driven optimization methods. Together with a team of PhD students and data scientists, you will tackle challenges such as optimizing processes using model-free and model-based reinforcement learning, closing the gap between process models and reality, fusing expert knowledge and data in hybrid simulation and control models, and researching AI solutions that can be safely deployed in an industrial setting.

With your team you will take a deep dive in techniques such as hybrid modelling, and reinforcement learning to tackle these industrial challenges head on.

The job

  • You will be responsible for the management of research projects in the context of data-driven process control and optimization.
  • You follow up on progress within research projects and are able to communicate the accomplished/in-process work to internal and external stakeholders and adapt where needed.
  • You lead a technical team going forward in implementing research projects.
  • You develop project proposals for the Horizon Europe Program and national projects, both in fundamental and collaborative programs.
  • You interface and collaborate on a technical level with research partners from industry and academia.
  • You will participate in the framework of European and national research projects (in collaboration with industry).
  • You support the teaching activities in the informatics and AI courses at the faculty of Applied Engineering – Electronics ICT.
  • Your remuneration will be determined by salary scale for Academic Assistant Staff. (More info: University of Antwerp employees also enjoy a wide range of extra-legal benefits like bicycle allowance, eco vouchers and teleworking allowance.

Job requirements

Job requirements

  • You have a PhD in Computer Science, Engineering, Physics, Mathematics, Electrical Engineering, Electromechanical Engineering, or equivalent.
  • You have affinity with academic research, but also want to make a difference in today’s industrial and societal challenges.
  • You can translate the business requirements of partners to technical challenges, and – together with researchers – define clear methodologies for addressing them.
  • You have a strong background and hands-on experience in AI.
  • Prior experience with reinforcement learning is a strong plus. Prior experience in data-driven control and/or hybrid simulation is also an advantage.
  • Knowledge of process control for biochemical, chemical, or pharmaceutical engineering is an advantage, particularly in the context of AI-driven optimization.
  • You have experience with managing and supervising team members.
  • You can explain the challenges of machine learning to a broad non-technical audience, but also have an in-depth understanding of the technical aspects.
  • Having experience with participating / leading in national and/or international research projects is an advantage.
  • Having experience in proposal writing in national and / or international research projects is an advantage.
  • You are a team player and have strong communication skills.
  • Your English is fluent, both speaking and writing.

Practical information

  • Start date: as soon as possible.
  • Employment: fulltime.
  • Type of contract: 1 year contract with the possibility of renewal as a permanent contract after a positive evaluation.
  • Place of employment: The Beacon, Sint-Pietersvliet 7, 2000 Antwerp.

More information on the position: Program Manager AI Applications, Prof. dr. Siegfried Mercelis -

HR-Related Questions: Ms. Michelle Nietvelt –