PhD student: Development of Trustworthy AI Systems for Critical Infrastructure 100 %



Do you enjoy independent scientific research, have a strong background in machine learning and are interested in development of Trustworthy AI? We offer a PhD position on Explainability and Fairness of AI- as part of an EU-funded project.

PhD student: Development of Trustworthy AI Systems for Critical Infrastructure 100 %

PhD student: Development of Trustworthy AI Systems for Critical Infrastructure 100 %



School of Engineering

Starting date:

April 2024 or by appointment

Your role

  • We offer a research assistant position at the ZHAW Centre for Artificial Intelligence fully funded for four years, as part of an international and interdisciplinary research project on AI in critical infrastructures. (Contracts are renewed on a yearly basis)
  • This position is meant to obtain a PhD degree, awarded in collaboration with Ca'Foscari University of Venice, Italy (occasional stays in Venice are required).
  • You do major contributions to scientifically challenging, applied research and innovation projects within the Computer Vision, Perception & Cognition research group at the Centre for Artificial Intelligence (CAI), in particular, specifically the EU project "AI4REALNET" focused on advancing the state-of-the-art on developing methodologies for addressing ethical issues in AI applications.
  • You develop high quality, innovative and complex algorithms and software in the area of deep learning and reinforceent learning, in particular in human-assisted and autonomous decision making in critical infrastructure (e.g., railway network, electric grids, air traffic control)
  • You contribute to the development of conceptual frameworks for operationalizing ethical foundations for the trustworthiness and explainability of Artificial Intelligence Systems
  • You design and evaluate practical tools for assessing and validating AI systems trustworthiness, with specific focus on their robustness, explainability and fairness. You investigate means for integrating these tools in existing and upcoming regulatory frameworks for AI
  • You do publication and presentation of results in the form of journal publications and conference contributions.
  • You occasionally support lecturers in teaching (e.g. labs or exercises)

Your profile

  • You possess a recent, very good Master's degree in computer science, data science or a related technical/scientific field, with focus on machine learning and artificial intelligence; ideally, you have also conducted studies or obtained a second degree in the humanities (technoethics, philosophy of technology, social studies, theology, etc.)
  • Previous experience in reinforcement learning and decision theory is a plus
  • Excellent graduates from universities of applied sciences are particularly welcome
  • You have strong interest and ideally already experience in addressing the ethical, and social impacts of AI systems, trustworthy AI and explainable AI
  • You have strong skills in software development (ideally, Python), as well as good experience with common deep learning software frameworks and tools (e.g., Pytorch)
  • You enjoy independent scientific work, as well as collaborating with interdisciplinary and international project teams; high intrinsic motivation, creativity to find solutions for complex problems, an exact and reliable working style, as well as having good communication skills and being adaptive and results oriented are requirements for this position
  • Very good language skills in English, with certified English proficiency at least B2 level
  • In return, we offer the possibility to combine working on scientifically rewarding and practically relevant research projects at the young CAI with a PhD dissertation

This is what we stand for

Zurich University of Applied Sciences ZHAW is one of Switzerland's largest multidisciplinary universities of applied sciences, with over 14'000 students and 3'400 faculty and staff.

The School of Engineering (SoE), as one of the leading educational and research institutions in Switzerland, focuses on topics relevant to the future. 14 institutes and centres guarantee high-quality education, research and development with a focus on the areas of energy, mobility, information and health.

The Centre for Artificial Intelligence (CAI) maintains a growing number of research groups in the fields of Natural Language Processing and Computer Vision, Perception and Cognition , Autonomous Learning Systems, Trustworthy AI and AI Engineering. The CAI conducts method-oriented applied research and development at the highest level in the field of machine learning and is committed to a human-centered approach to artificial intelligence, thereby actively shaping the ethical dimension.

We are looking for a deeply interested, technically skilled personality. We value potential over already mastered skills, encouraging also unconventional CVs, e.g., an academic background from an applied sciences institution ("Fachhochschule"), or interdisciplinary experience. Please honor us with a tailored cover letter and highlight facts that underline your ability to achieve high. We are looking forward to hearing from you!

ZHAW is committed to gender-mixed and diverse teams in order to promote equality, diversity and innovation.

What you can expect

We offer working conditions and terms of employment commensurate with higher education institutions and actively promote personal development for staff in leadership and non-leadership positions. A detailed description of advantages and benefits can be found at Working at the ZHAW. The main points are listed below:


Prof. Dr. Thilo Stadelmann
Director Center for Artificial Intelligence

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Tanja Schmid
Recruiting Manager

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  • ZHAW