PhD - OpenZero

Deadline: 25.02.2024

Oslo School of Architecture and Design

The Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO) is an internationally leading, specialized university within the disciplines design, architecture, landscape architecture and urbanism. AHO offers a unique research-based education of international standing. Established in 1945, today it has built a solid national funding base and is prominently ranked internationally. AHO awards Master’s degrees in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Design, as well as a PhD programme. In its education, the school follows a studio-based model with a low faculty-to-student ratio that encourages individual development and collaboration. The school has approximately 800 students and 270 employees.

The Institute of Design is responsible for AHO's 5-year integrated Master's program in design, as well as the school's 2-year international Master's program in design. Additionally, the institute runs a executive master within SOD in system-oriented design. The institute adopts a broad and comprehensive approach to design, emphasizing the discipline's societal relevance. It engages in teaching and research within, and across, the fields of industrial design, interaction design, service design, and system-oriented design. The skills acquired by our students during their education are highly sought after in the Norwegian job market. The institute is one of the leading academic communities both within and outside Europe. With a highly international environment comprising 52 staff members from various nations, the institute maintains extensive national and international networks. It collaborates closely with both the private sector and the public sector in research and innovation projects. The numerous projects carried out by both students and staff regularly receive national and international design awards.

AHO call for a practice-based PhD in interaction design

PhD Opportunity: Human-Centered Interaction Design for Maritime Decarbonization

Do you have experience with interaction design, and you care about decarbonisation? Are you interested in applied research with direct and high impact? This PhD will enable you to apply your skills to the context of the decarbonisation of the maritime industry.


Decarbonization is the most important global agenda of our times. With more than 10 years of close collaboration with the industry, the Ocean Industries Concept Lab (OICL) is in a unique position to make a significant impact to reduce the global CO2 emissions of the maritime sector. Newly built ships are being designed with innovative technologies such as new types of wind and wave propulsion, electrification, and new renewable fuels.

Although many decarbonisation technologies can reduce emissions, there is little focus on designing for the people operating them. This is a problem since a significant part of current emissions of any ship can be partly connected to suboptimal design of user interfaces and lack of standards for how to specifically design for reducing energy consumption. As a result, a central area of research is the design of user interfaces for operational systems onboard ships. Specifically, the design of user interfaces that support user’s decision making towards energy efficient operations.

This is a broad and challenging context for design practice. Many decarbonization technologies are entirely new, and it is necessary to create new design precedence. User interfaces are primarily screen based but may also include other forms of rich interactions: multiscreen, voice, gesture, haptic, augmented reality.

Project description

We call for a three-year practice-based PhD in interaction design that will explore the development of user interface design for energy-efficient decision-making by a variety of users on ships and on land. The PhD research will be positioned within interaction design practice with an emphasis on doing design experiments and analysis of design cases as part of the work. The research may contribute to a wide range of fields such as interaction design research in domains such as user interface design, design systems, behavioural design, gamification, human-automation interaction, and multimodal interactions.

The PhD is funded by the OpenZero research project. The project has 26 academic, government and industry partners and offers wide access to real cases related to the most novel decarbonization efforts in the maritime industry worldwide. The maritime system makers of OpenZero have their systems installed on more than 50% of the global ship fleet. The OpenZero project is led by OICL, a leading design research group in Norway hosted by the Oslo School of Architecture and Design – www.oicl.no. The PhD candidate will benefit from OICL´s expertise in interaction design applied to the design of maritime workplaces.

The PhD candidate will be part of the OICL research and design team. The work will be connected to the OpenBridge Design System – www.openbridge.no. OpenBridge is the world’s only open-source design system for user interface design in maritime workplaces. Initiated by OICL and collaboratively developed by a global community of industrial and regulatory actors, OpenBridge has been accessed by more than 2000 users from 700 different organizations in 50 countries since its release in 2020. By leveraging OpenBridge’s as a channel to the global ship fleet and implementing new approaches to user interface design for energy-efficient decision-making using the OpenBridge design system, this PhD project has the potential to lead to direct and significant impact.

The main supervisor will be Professor Kjetil Nordby who has long experience in supervising practice-based design PhDs. He has a solid and innovative track record in supporting strong creative and analytical designers that might lack extensive experience in academic writing. The preferred mode of a thesis by compilation provides structured support for learning to write to academic venues and publications, including collaborative and independently authored works.

Design work in practice will consist of user-centred, iterative design prototyping and evaluation in realistic contexts of use, with direct access to ships, ship operators, ship simulators. The whole OpenBridge network will be made available to the candidate, and a network of PhD students working with ship emission reduction and energy efficiency in Northern Europe and Canada is connected to the project.

Any questions regarding the position can be directed to Kjetil Nordby Kjetil.Nordby@aho.no


The candidate should have a master’s degree in design with a specialization in interaction design. Adjacent areas such as industrial design and graphic design may be considered if the candidate can demonstrate a portfolio of interaction design work that show expertise in UX and UI.

We emphasise the ability to understand user-centred interaction design from a professional perspective, and as an analytical ability. This can be shown both through written text and /or through advanced design work that demonstrates ability of systematically addressing difficult design problems. We acknowledge that many designers do not have academic experiences and we will teach academic writing in Norwegian and/or English as part of the PhD. Also, we emphasise design practice skills, but do not require programming or implementation skills. The central creative production tool will be Figma.

The application must include:

  • An application letter describing relevant background, motivation, research experience and network. (Maximum two A4 pages)
  • A design portfolio showcasing interaction design work
  • A project proposal outline of maximum 5 pages, formulating and discussing the candidate´s understanding of research tasks, types of problems and proposed methodology
  • A Curriculum Vitae of maximum 4 pages. (The CV may provide links to additional online resources demonstrating your capabilities or other relevant sources)
  • Certified copies of educational certificates, transcript of records, diplomas and letters of recommendation
  • List of publications and/or academic work
  • 2 references (name, relation to candidate, e-mail address and telephone number)

All documentation must be in English or a Scandinavian language. Applications who do not fulfil the formal requirements will not be considered. Attachments beyond the required documents will not be taken into consideration.

The material for the PhD application will be assessed according to the following criteria:

  • The quality of the project description (proposal outline)
  • The applicant's suitability for the research tasks
  • The academic competence of the applicant
  • The design competence of the applicant

Formal regulations

The educational component in the AHO PhD Programme is mandatory and requires full-time attendance. Residency in Oslo for the employment period is mandatory. The PhD fellowship will start 1 September 2024.

We offer

  • The three-yearPhD scholarship is fully funded and there is no tuition fee. The salary is NOK 532 200,- for a full position, with 3 % increase of the salary each year. From the salary, there will be a mandatory deduction of 2 % as a contribution to the State Pension fund (SPK). Standard employment conditions for state employees in Norway apply for the position.
  • An annual allowance of 20 000 NOK for literature and other necessary academic activities.
  • Office space in a professionally stimulating working environment.
  • Attractive welfare benefits and generous pension agreement, in addition to Oslo’s family-friendly environment with its rich opportunities for culture and outdoor activities.

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