Cyber, Security, Safety, research, Data Analytics in Security
Doctorate/PhD (EQF 8), Master (EQF 7)
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The Netherlands Aerospace Center – NLR conducts research in the aerospace domain to support both national and international aerospace industries. Furthermore, NLR also conduct various R&D projects for governmental agencies and authorities,

Within the aerospace operation training and simulation (AOTS) department research is conducted to (flight) simulator technology and the usage of such simulators for education and training of operators such as pilots, maintenance personnel and air-traffic controllers. The objective of this research is to continuously improve simulator technology in such a manner that training can be performed more effectively and efficiently, and meets the latest regulatory safety requirements as impose by aviation authorities. For this purpose, we closely cooperate with other (inter)national research institutes, universities and (flight) simulator industry.

Research assignment description
Due to the rise of new distributed simulation technologies and digital immersive media like virtual and augmented reality the aerospace domain is slowly migrating to next generation simulation training devices that leverage these new technologies to the full extent. These NextGen simulation devices have to be mobile and more importantly must be able to interoperate in cloud/ mesh-based networks with any kind of other live, virtual or constructive (LVC) simulation system, like in the Internet of Things concept. Furthermore, NextGen simulation devices should be highly composable, fit in service oriented architectures (i.e. Simulation as a Service) and be part of a data eco-system. This requires that NextGen simulation devices are able to effectively and efficiently share data and other kind of information with simulation devices and systems from many different organizations.

The biggest challenge in this regard is assuring information security when exchanging information across these organizations that participate in the preparation and execution of simulation training exercises. Particular, since each public, private, government and military organization classifies, labels and protects information commensurate with the security risk it poses if disclosed without authorization. The risk of unwanted information leakage to unauthorized organization in simulation exercises is large due to the huge amounts and multiple samples of very detailed data that is exchanged in real-time. Moreover, it is relatively easy to digitally store such data and analyze it (i.e. big data/data science) for information on system capabilities, operational procedures and personnel competencies.
To deal with such issues in traditional distributed IT networks, highly specialized IT systems known as cross-domain guards sit at the boundary of each security domain reading data from a designated source location in one security domain and applying a pre-approved filter for that specific source to each data item. These guards however lower data transfer rates and volume because the data must be verified as appropriately classified prior to sending to the other classification network. Applying similar cross domain security (CDS) solutions within the simulation training domain possess even greater challenge since it could result in human perceivable latencies, non-level and non-homogenous playing field fidelity. Hence, this negatively impacts the attainable training value and even may result in negative training effects. Furthermore, these traditional cross-domain solutions (CDS) are expensive due to lengthy and complex accreditation and implementation processes and specialized hard/software and skill sets. Any changes to a data flow also require extensive, expensive, and lengthy accreditation and implementation processes. This hinders the effective and timely data sharing during distributed simulation training exercise development and execution.

This calls for new innovative CDS solutions for NextGen simulation training devices and distributed simulation training exercises in particular.  We recently have set-up a new research stream in this field covering the following five themes:

  1. Tailoring traditional CDS hard and software solutions for the simulation domain and standards (DIS/HLA)
  2. Application of distributed ledger technology such as block-chain for simulation CDS solutions
  3. Application of open standards such as the Data Distribution Service (DDS) for simulation CDS solutions
  4. Definition of a reference model and architecture for simulation CDS solution architectures and networks
  5. Training value assessment and risk trade-off analysis methods for simulation CDS solutions

The NLR is looking for enthusiastic M.Sc. student (s) who would like to join our team to deliver an innovative contribution to one or more of these five research themes as part of their thesis assignment.

Knowledge level and duration of the assignment
These aspects will be tailored in agreement to your education level and institute requirements, thesis period, and of course your personal interests.



Higher and university level education in computer science, information science or security science. Working knowledge and experience in the area of simulation technology and standards, test engineering, data-science and/or experimental design are an advantage. Demonstrated knowledge, skills and experience in software engineering and programming (C, C ++, C#, VisualBasic, Python) is a must have. Obviously, you should not lack a good amount of enthusiasm for aerospace domain, simulation, virtual and augmented reality applications.


What do we offer?
A look behind the scenes in one of the oldest and most prestige aerospace research institutes of Europe. Work for a young and dynamic department at NLR, which develops flight simulators and pilot training of the future. A concrete assignment with very clear goals and success criteria. If the thesis assignment is performed successfully, you are almost guaranteed that your work will be used for a long time within the NLR, or even by the simulator industry (and will not end in some a dusty cupboard).

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