PhD Call for Applications at VinUniversity and University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign


Project: Smart Indoor Air Quality Control System for Healthier and Greener Buildings

We are looking for prospective PhD students who will work on the domain of Construction and processing of building interior 3D models using Smartphone Lidar Technology.”

The quality of the indoor environment has a critical impact on people’s health because on average, we spend more than 90% of our time indoors. Providing a healthy and safe indoor environment can save lives, reduce diseases, and increase our quality of life. Elevated levels of indoor air pollutants such as black carbon and particulate matter in different buildings in urban areas of Vietnam are similar to or sometimes even higher than the level of those pollutants outdoors exceeding the WHO guidelines and thus posing an elevated risk for the occupants. Better management of indoor environmental quality and saving energy consumption at the same time is of critical national and international significance. We propose a project funded by VinUni-Illinois Smart Health Center to deliver the necessary tool to achieve the target of making healthier buildings worldwide to protect human health.

The result of this research, commonly referred to as BIM (Building Information Model), is crucial to the computation, simulation, and visualization of airflow, which in turn affects indoor thermal comfort, human health, and energy efficiency. The 3D building models are traditionally hand-designed, which is laborious and error-prone. With the advances in Lidar scanning technology, smaller and more affordable 3D scanners are integrated into consumer devices such as mobile phones, allowing end-users to scan surrounding objects. The 3D scanner can return a point cloud representing only a tiny room area. Therefore, we need to propose algorithms such as SLAM-based ones to concatenate data together, forming the complete 3D mesh model of the whole room. The raw 3D model then needs to be processed by post-processing phrases to reduce noise and simplify the mesh adaptively. Moreover, to enhance the information for the BIM, we plan to develop deep learning models to segment the room 3D model into different parts such as the floor, ceilings, walls, windows, doors, and furniture.

Training program
As a Ph.D. student, you will undertake training courses that will lead towards a Ph.D. and allow you to gain various skills and expertise to strongly support your future career, whether in industry or academia. Students will be supported in publishing their research and encouraged to present it at international conferences. The students will be advised by professors at Illinois and VinUni from the following team: Illinois: Vishal Verma, Helen Nguyen, Jinhui Yan. VinUni: Le Duy Dung, Kok-Seng Wong, and Andrew Taylor-Robinson, USTH: Dr. Nguyen Hoang Ha, University of Liverpool: Dr. Anh Nguyen.

This project is suitable for students (Vietnamese only) with a Bachelor’s degree in physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, public health or a related field. Academic excellence should be demonstrated, i.e. GPA of 3.2 or above. A Master’s degree and/or experience in one of the following fields: physics, chemistry, biology, numerical methods and simulations, or AI/ML methods are desirable but not essential. Applicants should have a strong interest in air quality, field sampling, public health, and computational and/or machine learning knowledge. Excellent skills in one of the following: programming (Python), molecular biology, numerical methods, simulations, and design thinking is desirable. The key requirements are an interest in the topic and a good work ethic. English language requirements: IELTS Academic: 6.5 or above (or equivalent).

Selected candidates will work towards their PhD degree granted by either VinUniversity (VinUni) or University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), and be co-advised by faculty from both universities. During their PhD studies, VISHC PhD students will spend 2 years to study and research at the other university and can optionally seek a master’s degree from that university. This program will cover all tuition fees, living expenses, health insurance, round-trip airfare, and related expenses for VISHC PhD students. The financial support for VISHC PhD students while they are at UIUC is provided by the Vingroup Scholarship Program for Overseas Study for Master’s and Doctoral Degrees. VISHC PhD students will receive a stipend of 10,000 USD/year when they study at VinUni and 25,000 USD/year when they study at UIUC.