Postdoctoral Research Associate - Manufacturing Optimization Through FEA/CFD Simulations for Polymer

Date: Feb 26, 2024

Location: Oak Ridge, TN, US, 37830

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 11987 


As a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science national laboratory, ORNL has an extraordinary 80-year history of solving the nation’s biggest problems. We have a dedicated and creative staff of over 6,000 people! Our vision for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) is to cultivate an environment and practices that foster diversity in ideas and in the people across the organization, as well as to ensure ORNL is recognized as a workplace of choice. These elements are critical for enabling the execution of ORNL’s broader mission to accelerate scientific discoveries and their translation into energy, environment, and security solutions for the nation.


We are seeking a Postdoctoral Research Associate who will support the Composites Innovation Group in the Manufacturing Science Division (MSD), Energy Science and Technology (ESTD) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The candidate will focus on developing a manufacturing process optimization framework for polymer composites through computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and finite element analysis (FEA). The work will also involve sensor data analysis from composite manufacturing equipment. Our research division carries out high quality R&D focused on the strategic composite material needs of the aerospace, automotive, and marine/shipbuilding industries as well as trending areas of international composite research in material science, mechanical and chemical engineering, and automation. The successful candidate will conduct research in the area of polymer composite manufacturing, specifically on the process optimization for the advancement of current manufacturing technologies, the development of the optimization framework, and the implementation of new optimization technologies.


The candidate will (1) perform computational fluid dynamics (CFD) for viscous flow in polymer composite manufacturing with thermoplastics and thermoset materials including but not limited to injection molding, compression molding, additive manufacturing, resin transfer molding, (2) perform structural-level and microstructure-level simulations using FEA for design optimization, (3) monitor process conditions via sensors and analyze the sensor data, (4) analyze the part quality through various testing (5) establish relationships between the processing variables/conditions and the manufactured part quality through simulations.


Major Duties/Responsibilities: 

  • Develop a manufacturing process optimization and design optimization frameworks via computation
  • Perform process optimizations through simulations accounting for polymer flow and fiber interactions from various composite manufacturing techniques
  • Develop and support the integration of a simulation-assisted process monitoring and control system for additive manufacturing-compression molding (AM-CM) process
  • Utilize various types of sensors and analyze the data from manufacturing equipment
  • Advance constitutive models and simulation tools used for polymer composite analysis
  • Interface with other researchers and technical staff regarding simulation, production, and characterization of the materials
  • Present and report research results and publish scientific results in peer-reviewed journals in a timely manner
  • Write invention disclosures and reports
  • Supervise students/interns
  • Maintain strong dedication to the implementation and perpetuation of values and ethics
  • Ensure compliance with environment, safety, health, and quality program requirements
  • Ensure compliance with ORNL operation excellence
  • Deliver ORNL’s mission by aligning behaviors, priorities, and interactions with our core values of Impact, Integrity, Teamwork, Safety, and Service. Promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility by fostering a respectful workplace – in how we treat one another, work together, and measure success.


Basic Qualifications:

  • A PhD in Materials Science and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Polymer Science and Engineering or a related field completed within the last 5 years
  • Expertise in fluid dynamics with highly viscous fluid or computational solid mechanics
  • Experience in polymer composite manufacturing


Preferred Qualifications:

  • Experience in FEA tools such as Abaqus, ANSYS, or Autodesk
  • Experience in viscous flow simulations
  • Experience in CFD tools such as STAR-CCM+, ANSYS Fluent, COMSOL, OpenFOAM, or Nek5000
  • Experience in polymer processing such as extruder, injection molding, compression molding
  • Fluency in programming languages such as Fortran, C++, Python
  • Experience in thermomechanical property characterization of polymers
  • Experience in sensors and monitoring devices
  • An excellent record of productive and creative research as demonstrated by publications in peer-reviewed journals
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Motivated self-starter with the ability to work independently and to participate creatively in collaborative teams across the laboratory 
  • Ability to function well in a fast-paced research environment, set priorities to accomplish multiple tasks within deadlines, and adapt to ever changing needs


Applicants cannot have received their Ph.D. more than five years prior to the date of application and must complete all degree requirements before starting their appointment. The appointment length will be for up to 24 months with the potential for extension. Initial appointments and extensions are subject to performance and the availability of funding.


Please submit three letters of reference when applying to this position. You can upload these directly to your application or have them sent to with the position title and number referenced in the subject line.


Instructions to upload documents to your candidate profile:

  • Login to your account via
  • View Profile
  • Under the My Documents section, select Add a Document


Benefits at ORNL:  

ORNL offers competitive pay and benefits programs to attract and retain talented people. The laboratory offers many employee benefits, including medical and retirement plans and flexible work hours, to help you and your family live happy and healthy. Employee amenities such as on-site fitness, banking, and cafeteria facilities are also provided for convenience.


Other benefits include: Prescription Drug Plan, Dental Plan, Vision Plan, 401(k) Retirement Plan, Life Insurance, Pet Insurance, Generous Vacation and Holidays, Parental Leave, Legal Insurance with Identity Theft Protection, Employee Assistance Plan, Flexible Spending Accounts, Health Savings Accounts, Wellness Programs, Educational Assistance, Relocation Assistance, and Employee Discounts.


If you have difficulty using the online application system or need an accommodation to apply due to a disability, please email:


This position will remain open for a minimum of 5 days after which it will close when a qualified candidate is identified and/or hired.

We accept Word (.doc, .docx), Adobe (unsecured .pdf), Rich Text Format (.rtf), and HTML (.htm, .html) up to 5MB in size. Resumes from third party vendors will not be accepted; these resumes will be deleted and the candidates submitted will not be considered for employment.

If you have trouble applying for a position, please email

ORNL is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants, including individuals with disabilities and protected veterans, are encouraged to apply.  UT-Battelle is an E-Verify employer.

Nearest Major Market: Knoxville