Research Engineer/Scientist (M/F) for the Royal Military Academy, Department of Mechanics, project “CBRN dispersion and response modeling in the cloud” (MSP20-04)

The Royal Military Academy - Patrimony is looking for a full-time research scientist/engineer with a master's degree in Applied Sciences / Engineering / Physics / Computer Science in the field of fluid mechanics and/or numerical simulation. Candidates looking for a doctoral position are strongly encouraged to apply and will be preferred. The work consists of the implementation of a numerical model for the dispersion after a chemical, nuclear or biological (weapons or other) release, as well as
the modeling of the response management. The model will run on the infrastructure of the ECMWF and will provide a user-friendly web-based interface.

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.

You work within the research units “Fluid Dynamics” of the mechanics department and “Modelling, Simulation and Optimization” of the mathematics department, conducting research at university level for the Defense research project “CBRN dispersion and response modeling in the cloud”. This project is a collaboration with the ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts) and the RMI (Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium).

When faced with a release of a CBRN agent, it is crucial that the effect on military personnel and civilians can quickly be assessed. This assessment depends on the dispersion modeling of an airborne cloud of contaminants. An important input for this model is the local meteorological data, which for military operations should be available for any location in the world. The objective of the current project is to make use of the cloud computing platform from the European Centre for Mediumrange Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) to run CBRN dispersion models, automatically integrating highquality weather forecasts into the dispersion prediction. We expect that this will improve the accuracy
of the prediction, as well as enable running more advanced models given the computing power available in the cloud and the detail of the weather data that is available. As a further step, eventbased simulation will be used to plan an appropriate response to critical events triggered by the dispersion prediction. This allows to differentiate actions not only between concentration levels or intensities but also between e.g. population density, topography…. We will also integrate the results from previous studies to model the medical response.

The objective of the study is to arrive at a usable tool running in the cloud, operated using a webbased interface. The research is a joint project between the mechanics and mathematics department of the Royal Military Academy (RMA), under the supervision of dr. ir. Bart Janssens and dr. ir. Ben Lauwens, and the Royal Meteorological Institute under the supervision of dr. ir. Andy Delcloo.

The contract will be for four years, with possibility of extension.

Main Tasks:

  • Perform research activities in the frame of the study project:
    • Compile an overview of the existing dispersion models and their capabilities, and identify some models to use or implement (e.g. FLEXPART)
    • Familiarization with the existing response modeling tools written in Julia
    • Implement the NATO AEP-45 “simplified” and “detailed” dispersion models in Julia
    • Integrate the model into the ECMWF cloud infrastructure, using a “breadth-first” approach, where you use existing or simplified models for the physics and elaborate all of the functionality based on that. This will require identification of the proper technologies to integrate the existing models and make them accessible through a web interface
    • Work with the end-users of the modeling software, in order to:
      • Adapt the functionality to their requirements
      • Compare model output to the results from existing tools
    • Implement and adjust the dispersion and response models to improve accuracy where needed
    • Take into account uncertainty by relying on the ECMWF ensemble runs for the weather data
  • Report the progress results to the promotor and research team in English.
  • Report the obtained results at international conferences and write scientific papers in English.

More information :
Bart Janssens and Ben Lauwens

Required skills

Technical skills

The applicant shall have a Master’s Degree in Applied Sciences, Engineering Physics, Computer Science.

The ideal candidate will have training or experience in at least a few of the following domains:

  • Numerical simulation and modeling
  • Scientific programming
  • Cloud and web-based technologies
  • Fluids and dispersion modeling
  • Event based simulation
  • Weather models and forecasting

Affinity with high performance computing and willingness to use a new programming language such as Julia is an added value.

Specific requirements

The researcher may be exposed to classified information 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 Belgian Defense.

Personal skills
  • You conduct scientific research in an independent and upright way within a multidisciplinary environment that could lead you to a PhD.
  • You think in an innovative and creative way.
  • You communicate your results in a clear, concise and precise manner.
  • You take initiatives.
  • You are involved and focused on results.
  • You are honest, loyal toward the institution and respect confidentiality.
  • You plan and manage proactively your self-development, while being critical to your own functioning and striving to you self-improvement.
  • You improve the team-spirit and solve interpersonal conflicts.
  • 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.
  • You are flexible for change and adapt yourself.
  • You commit yourself in your job by giving the best of your aptitudes in striving toward the highest quality standards and persevere when needed.
  • One of the objectives of this study is to show the potential of the new system to our “clients”. You are willing to listen to the client’s inputs and adapt solutions accordingly.
Experience & other skills
  • The applicant shall have good knowledge of English (oral / written)
  • Minimum knowledge of French or Dutch is an added value for collaboration with peers



Point of contacts
  • Probable date of recruitment: From September 1 2020, in consultation with the applicant. (Applicants graduating in June 2020 are accepted).
  • 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 Degree) / A21 (Ir or holders of a Master Degree in Engineering Sciences (Applied Sciences))
  • Extra-legal benefits:
    • Possibility to obtain a bonus for bilingualism (Dutch/French);
    • Holiday pay;
    • End-of-year bonus;
    • Hospitalization insurance;
    • Free public transport (home-work commute);
    • Free access to the on-campus sport infrastructure;
    • 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.





  • Send a motivational letter, a CV and a scan of your ID card (both sides) to Bart Janssens, Ben Lauwens and to Thierry Deprez
  • 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
  • Please mention clearly the reference of the project: MSP20-04
  • Application deadline: July 15, 2020
  • The interviews will take place at the Royal Military Academy, Hobbemastraat 8, 1000 Brussels. The date and time of the interview will be communicated to the preselected candidates.