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PhD position in the design of interactive technologies for digital health and wellbeing

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General information


The Faculty of Engineering Technology (ET) engages in education and research Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Industrial Design Engineering with a view to enabling society and industry to innovate and create value using sound, efficient and sustainable technology. We are part of a ‘people-first' university of technology, taking our place as an internationally leading centre for smart production, processes and devices in five domains: Health Technology, Maintenance, Smart Regions, Smart Industry and Sustainable Resources. Our faculty is home to some 1,800 Bachelor's and Master's students, 400 employees and 150 PhD candidates and offers three degree programmes: Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Industrial Design Engineering. Our educational and research programme are closely connected with UT research institutes Mesa+ Institute, TechMed Centra and Digital Society Institute.

As an employer, the ET Faculty offers jobs that matter. We equip you as a staff member to shape new opportunities both for yourself and for our society. With our Faculty, you will be part of a leading tech university that is changing our world for the better. We offer an open, inclusive and entrepreneurial climate, in which we encourage you to make healthy choices, for example, with our flexible, customizable conditions.   



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Position description


Academic staff - PhD

Job title

PhD position in the design of interactive technologies for digital health and wellbeing

Minimum salary


Maximum salary


Job description

The group of Interaction Design at the University of Twente's (UT) Faculty of Engineering Technology has a vacancy for a 4-year, fully funded PhD. We are looking for a candidate to join us in studying, designing and deploying novel technologies for supporting people’s personalized and evolving health goals.

New digital devices, including wearables and mobile applications, promise opportunities for tracking and managing personal health goals more than ever before. However, people often approach these devices without knowing what goals to set and struggle in expressing their goals. This often leads to the adoption of goals which are misaligned with people’s abilities and personal interests. For example, recent studies (Gouveia et al., 2016) have found that people tend keep using the pre-default goals suggested by activity tracking devices, despite consistently failing to achieve them. Misaligned goals not only fail to motivate behaviour but can also harm self-integrity and fuel negative mindsets towards these devices.

Even when people have well-defined, achievable goals, they often face challenges when tracking and analysing resulting data (Munson et al., 2019). This can be emphasized as health datasets persist and are no longer representative of people’s current goals, abilities or identities. For example, while some activity tracker users may enjoy looking at and reflecting on how active they were before having children or their sleeping patterns before starting a new job; for others, past data can be confronting and out of touch with one’s current goals and reality.

The aim of this research is to design and evaluate functional, interactive systems that support people in setting, pursuing and transitioning between personal health goals. The initial focus will be on studying people’s existing goal-directed practices with commercially available health devices and how these practices change as people’s goals evolve. Results will lead to new design approaches for how digital devices can best support people in their goal practices.


To be considered, candidates should:

  • Have a MSc degree in Human-Computer Interaction, Health Sciences, Industrial Design Engineering, Interaction Technology, Computer Science, or in the broader area of the social sciences, like Social Psychology;
  • Be proficient in spoken and written English;
  • Be able to work independently, but also work in teams, and self-regulate their work;
  • Prior demonstrated research experience will be considered an advantage;
  • Proven experience on Android and/or iOS development will be an advantage.

We offer

We offer a position in a multidisciplinary and international environment. The UT is a front runner in conducting research, providing education and valorizing enabling technologies in healthcare! Besides running a number of Bachelor and Master’s programs centered around healthcare, the UT also has multidisciplinary facilities, such as the DesignLab and the TechMed Center - a brand-new innovation hub equipped with state-of-the-art infrastructure, ranging from research labs, preclinical testbeds and simulated hospital environments where novel technology interventions can be investigated and evaluated to see how they might be effectively used by clinicians and patients.

We also offer:

  • A full time four-year position;
  • Access to a network of leading researchers and clinical partners in the field of digital health and human-computer interaction;
  • A gross monthly salary starting at €2.395, increasing yearly to a maximum of €3.061 in the fourth year;
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%;
  • Minimum of 29 holidays in case of full-time employment;
  • Full status as an employee of the UT, including a pension scheme and health benefits;
  • Access to professional and personal development programs.

Information and application

Please apply by clicking on the button below before 15 December 2020. The application should include:

  • A motivation letter of at most a A4 page, explaining specific interests, the motivation for the application, and why you qualify for this project.
  • A detailed CV, summarizing your education, previous work experience and contact details of at least 2 referees,
  • A list of all courses attended and grades acquired during your MSc and BSc courses.

For additional information on this position, please contact Assistant Professor Rúben Gouveia at: r.h.gouveia@utwente.nl


Position localisation

Job location

Nederland, Enschede, Drienerlolaan 5, 7522 NB


Drienerlolaan 5 7522 NB Enschede

Candidate criteria

Minimum level of education required

4. Master

Scientific area