Research engineer / Scientist (M/F) Departement of Chemistry

Job description and associated tasks

In the framework of a research project financed by Belgian Defence, we are looking for a research scientist with a master's degree in Chemistry or in civil or industrial engineering with a specialisation in Chemistry.


The Royal Military Academy of Belgium (RMA) is a military institution responsible for the basic academic, military and physical training of future officers, and for the continuing advanced training of officers during their active career in the Belgian Defense department ( It is fully recognized as a university, fulfilling the same criteria as civilian universities. The Royal Military Academy is also conducting scientific research at university level for projects funded by the Belgian Defense department or external sources.


The research has multiple aims. They are all linked to the most commonly used homemade explosives used by terrorists, such as TATP at this moment.
One of the aims is the phlegmatization of these homemade explosives. These are usually very sensitive what makes them difficult to handle. However, when they are found (for example during a house search), they might need to be removed. Different ways of phlegmatizing will be tested, what will allow a maximum safety during transportation of these explosives.
Explosive detection dogs are nowadays often used to discover hidden explosives. A second aim of the research is the investigation of the influence of different factors of the synthesis of the explosives, on the dog’s response. For this part of the research, there will be a close collaboration with the Canine Unit of the Belgian Police.
Finally, there will be research about the post-blast analysis (after an explosion). Only trace amounts of the explosives and their decomposition products can be found. This research will be focused on how to collect samples in order to find a maximum of traces of the used explosive, and on how to analyse these samples (lower detection limit for better detection of traces).
The researcher will be integrated in the research unit led by Prof. M.H. Lefebvre in the Laboratory for Energetic Materials and Blast Engineering. The study will last 20 months (31.12.2022).

Main Tasks

The overall tasks of the candidate will be:

  • Synthesis of homemade explosives in different conditions.
  • Sensitivity testing (friction, impact) of different mixtures of explosive and phlegmatization agent.
  • Development and application of new analytical procedures (for example water content in explosive, decomposition products of explosives, …).
  • Reporting and presentation of results.

Required skills

Technical skills The applicant shall have master's degree in Chemistry or in civil or industrial engineering with a specialisation in Chemistry Training.
  • Experience in analytical chemistry and laboratory work is an important advantage.
  • Experience in “energetic materials” (explosives or propellants) is also an added value.
Specific requirements The successful candidate has to be committed to confidentiality and exclusivity and will therefore have to obtain the required security clearance. The candidate must consent with the background check required to obtain this clearance, which will be executed by the Belgian Defense.
Personal skills The applicant must be able to conduct scientific research at university level and integrate himself in a multidisciplinary research unit
  • The applicant takes initiatives.
  • The applicant is involved and results oriented.
  • The applicant is honest, loyal toward the institution and respects confidentiality.
  • You think in an innovative and creative way.
  • You communicate your results in a clear, concise and precise manner.
  • You solve problems autonomously and find alternatives or solutions.
  • You behave in a respectful way toward the others, their ideas and opinions as well as toward procedures and instructions
Experience & other skills
  • The applicant shall have good knowledge of English (oral / reading / writing / reporting)
  • Minimum knowledge of French or Dutch is recommended (collaboration with peers)



Point of contacts
  • Concerning the research project : Mr Bart Simoens
  • Concerning the recruitment modalities: Lieutenant-Colonel of Aviation Thierry Deprez
  • Contract
    • Probable date of recruitment: from 24 May 2021, in consultation with the applicant.
    • Status: Full-time employment based on an open-ended contract with the Patrimony of the Royal Military Academy (you will not be a civil servant).
    • Wage scale: A11 (holders of a master’s degree in Science) / A21 (Ir or holders of a master’s degree in Engineering (Applied Sciences))
  • Extra-legal benefits
    • Possibility to obtain a bonus for bilingualism (Dutch/French);
    • Holiday pay;
    • End-of-year bonus;
    • Hospitalization insurance;
    • Bicycle allowance / Free public transport (home-work commute);
    • Free access to the on-campus sport infrastructure (after official hours) ;
    • On-campus restaurant and cafeteria with discount on the daily menu.
  • Workplace
    • Royal Military Academy, Avenue de la Renaissance 30, 1000 Brussels;
    • Occasional travels abroad for scientific conferences, etc.
    • Stimulating work environment


You will be working in a military environment. That is why everyone is expected to undergo a security verification. Please add to your application the filled out document.

Send by email:

  • a motivational letter;
  • a CV;
  • a scan of your ID card (both sides);
  • the filled out security document.

to Bart Simoens and to Mr Thierry Deprez.

Please mention clearly the reference of the project: MSP/19-04.

Application deadline: 30 April 2021.

The interviews will take place at the Royal Military Academy, Rue Hobbema 8, 1000 Brussels. In case of access restriction due to COVID-19 or non-Belgian application, on-line interviews will take place. The date and time of the interview will be communicated to the preselected candidates.