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PhD Position Intelligent Teaching Assistant for Programming Education

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

Delft, Netherlands
Posted on Thursday, October 12, 2023

Job description

Learning how to approach and tackle programming problems is hard. Novice programmers are required to master complicated processes such as combining elementary operations into programs, problem decomposition, tracing intermediate outputs, problem solving and debugging. Recent advances in Large Language Models (LLMs)  create opportunities for scaling the teaching assistance provided to novice programmers.

In this project, we aim to develop an intelligent, LLM-based student assistant that provides context-informed support for programming education, while stimulating knowledge transfer.  During this project we will especially focus on how automatically generated hints can guide students toward the right solution, how students interact with the intelligent assistant, and how efficient their interactions are towards their learning objectives. The principal outcome of this work is the development of an intelligent platform designed to aid students in their programming education.

Note: This PhD position is part of the AI for Software Engineering lab (AI4SE), a collaboration between JetBrains and Delft University of Technology. Hence, the prospective PhD student will also work closely with researchers and developers of JetBrains. More information is available here.


We are looking for a candidate who has:

  • A Master’s degree in computer science, machine learning, or related fields;
  • Strong experience in programming Python, Java, or Kotlin to be able to build maintainable software;
  • Ability to cover code with tests and documentation;
  • Experience with IntelliJ platform is not required but is desirable;
  • A good understanding of at least one of the following areas: machine/deep learning, large language models, Transformers, NLP, and ability to apply these for static code analysis;
  • Interest in education research;
  • Excellent oral and written skills in English;
  • Ability to work independently and interdisciplinary and a team-based and supportive working attitude.
  • Teaching experience is not required but is desirable;
  • Prior experience in any kind of research (at a university or at any R&D position in a company)  is not mandatory but will be considered a plus.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. 

For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service. This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.

TU Delft (Delft University of Technology)

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!

Faculty Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science

The Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS) brings together three scientific disciplines. Combined, they reinforce each other and are the driving force behind the technology we all use in our daily lives. Technology such as the electricity grid, which our faculty is helping to make completely sustainable and future-proof. At the same time, we are developing the chips and sensors of the future, whilst also setting the foundations for the software technologies to run on this new generation of equipment – which of course includes AI. Meanwhile we are pushing the limits of applied mathematics, for example mapping out disease processes using single cell data, and using mathematics to simulate gigantic ash plumes after a volcanic eruption. In other words: there is plenty of room at the faculty for ground-breaking research. We educate innovative engineers and have excellent labs and facilities that underline our strong international position. In total, more than 1000 employees and 4,000 students work and study in this innovative environment.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science.

Additional information

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Dr. Fenia Aivaloglou, Assistant professor at: 

Application procedure

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply no later than 30 November 2023 via the application button and upload your:

  • Motivation;
  • Transcripts;
  • CV;
  • Reference letters.

Please note:

  • A pre-employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.
  • You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.
  • Please do not contact us for unsolicited services.