Monthly Archives: April 2016

Report from the PhD conference 2016

This is a report from the ongoing PhD conference at Skogshem & Wijk at Lidingö. The event started with lunch and the first presenter was the dean of the school, Jan Wikander, who gave a short introduction to the school from different perspectives. Three of the so called PAs for the doctoral programs participated the first day: Rahmat Khodabandeh (also vice FA, Energy and Environmental systems), Johann Packendorff (Industrial Economics & Management) and Daniel Tesfamariam Semere (Production Engineering).

The afternoon that followed was devoted to gender issues – Charlotte Holgersson started off by giving us some historical background of women at KTH, reminding us that the first female PhD graduated in the 1950’s and the first female professor was installed in the 1970’s, and continued by giving us examples from the SHE figures 2015. One of the participants suggested that it is just a matter of choice – women do not choose engineering. But that does not explain the leakage of women that can clearly be seen in these numbers from KTH: 32 % of the students are female, 26 % of the PhD students and only 15 % of the professors. The gender and diversity theme continued with an interactive theatre group. During the performance about the relationship between supervisor and candidate the audience got really involved and a few got up on stage.

In the evening there was a poster session with a lot of discussions and hopefully we will get many reports from the PhD students describing connections between different research fields at ITM. This is the way that the students may get credits from the conference.

On Thursday morning it was raining and the scheduled open-air-quiz was transformed to a web competition between teams with questions related to the PhD studies at ITM. The PA of the Machine Design program, Mats Magnusson, Rahmat, Gülten and I formed the team ‘Old guys’ and did pretty well. The PhD Chapter was responsible for this part of the program and took the opportunity to inform about their activities and how students can be involved in the work.

Finally, Sven Ove Hansson, professor in Philosophy at KTH, gave a talk about research and publication ethics and then invited the participants to discuss some ethically challenging cases.

When I talked with the two members of the theatre group about the gender distribution at the conference their feeling was that there were many male students whereas I was just about to say –yes we have many female students here today! – in my world (KTH) having about 30 % women is good.

/ Malin Selleby, FA

Substantial new funding to Material Science and a KTH initiative on circular economy

First and foremost we should congratulate Professor John Ågren and the MSE Department for the new research contract with SSF. The title of the funded project is “Sintring av inhomogena strukturer för förbättrad prestanda” and the total project budget is 31 million SEK. Congratulations!

KTH takes now a number of integrated initiatives that go across department and school borders. The funding of those initiatives comes from KTH balanced capital which over the last few years has accumulated a bit more than necessary. The ITM School hosts one of these initiatives – namely the one on Circular economy (CE), a concept which recently has caught a lot of interest because it focuses sustainable development issues in a business context. The European Commission is investing (in a broad sense) remarkably in circular economy (e.g. € 650 million in Horizon 2020 and € 5.5 billion under the structural funds). Essentially, the focus of circular economy is twofold:

  1. To close the materials cycle in a business system with reuse and recycling of products, components and materials for increasing resource efficiency and reducing environmental impact.
  2. To replace an industrial logic in which the basic principle is that materials and labour are priced, with another logic in which the function and benefit to the customer is the basis for value and pricing.

The KTH (or ITM if you wish) initiative on CE has an overall budget of 22 million SEK if we include the assistant professorship on Resource efficient business models for recycling of materials (one of the 12 prestigious assistant professorships that KTH announced more than a year ago) to which ITM recently has appointed Andreas Feldmann at the Department of Industrial Economics and Management – Congratulations Andreas! The goal of our CE initiative is that KTH during the time of the four-year funding period will establish a centre-like structure with substantial external funding for research and that corresponding education activities have been established.  The initiative includes also the CHE, ABE and CSC Schools but is led and coordinated by ITM.

In my last blog the ITM Core Values were given in Swedish, and an English translation was promised to come, and here it is:

ITM’s Core Values

The ITM School has a value system based on

  • democracy, equality, human rights and freedom, free speech and open discussion. Gender equality and rejection of all forms of discrimination raises both the quality of our institution and our working environment, and is therefore an integral part of ITM’s core values.
  • equal treatment in terms of rights, conditions, opportunities and obligations, regardless of ethnicity, nationality, gender, gender identity or expression, religion or belief, disability, social background, sexual orientation or age.

Important corner-stones for ITM’s continued development are

  • that diversity, equality and equal treatment are important in order to develop ITM as an attractive and successful workplace where everyone is given opportunities to develop and to contribute to good results.
  • that education and research can and should contribute to better living conditions and a peaceful society, and meet the requirements of ecological, social and economic sustainability. As part of a leading technical university, the ITM School has a special responsibility to develop the knowledge needed to promote such sustainable development.

Jan Wikander, Dean of School

Business as usual!

Since my last blog things has been dragging along as usual. Nevertheless, the work is by far not boring!  However, before I explore more about this topic I wish to convey the happy news that Sofia Ritzén has been promoted to a professor at the Departemnt of Machine Design and that Torskel Strömstedt has  been appointed as a guest professor at the Department of Industrial Economy.

Now back to my comments on the recruitment work. It is important to stay concentrated in order to not miss important details, which will slow down the recruitment process. For example, the process for recruiting new faculty involves communication with many people. Here, it is extremely important that me, Anton Lagerbäck and Gülten Baysal communicate on a regular basis. They, in turn, communicate with the department heads and administrative responsible persons at the department. Also, as I mentioned in my previous blogs the contacts with experts and the interviews are organized centrally at KTH. Recently the people working with recruitments on the KTH level have received a much increased work load due to a larger demand of recruiting new faculty. Here, our school currently has the largest recruitment needs among the schools: This is partly due to the hiring of the new faculty in Södertälje, where we now are recruiting eight new teachers.

Due to the large number of positions being advertised from the ITM school this year, we need to set up many interviews with the best candidates for respective position. This has been shown to be much more difficult than expected. After all candidates are known we select a chair person, a representant from the department and a teacher representant. Thereafter, this committee selects one woman and one man, with no conflicts of interests with the candidates, from the list of experts that have been made before submitting the proposal to KTH. Then, KTH will have to approve these experts before sending them out the applications to the experts.

As we have seen recently it is quite common that some of the experts are delayed with their feedbacks, which makes it harder for us to proceed to the next step of the recruitment process. Here, we have a lesson to learn to carefully consider if a suggested expert is a person that actually will have the time to complete a review in time. This is not only a problem at KTH, but also at other universities. Therefore, one university has recently started to give experts a bonus if they come in with their answers before the deadline. Personally, I believe that this is a pretty clever idea since a faster answer as well as an answer received at a made deadline makes it easier for us to plan the latter part of the recruitment process!

The last example I wish to bring up is the setting up of a date for the interview of the selected candidates. Here, typically the 3 to 5 most qualified candidates, including at least one man and one woman, are selected for the final interview. Here, the rules are such that we need to have three people present in the committee, whereof at least one man and one woman, and at least one of the two experts needs to be present at the interview. Due to our faculties heavily booked agendas, this has been shown to be a real obstacle to enable a fast hiring process. Thus, even if we carefully select a recruitment committee, we will in most cases have to exchange one member in order to keep a date already set for an interview. Even today when I am writing this blog I am desperately seeking a member for an interview on April 27. So, as I stated in the beginning even if it is business as usual, the work is not boring!

Pär Jönsson, Vice Dean

It’s time again for the GA’s weekly blog

There is a GA (Directors of First and Second Cycle Education) meeting tomorrow (April 6) and this is probably the right time to tell you a bit about the constellation. At regular intervals (8-10 times a year) all the GA directors (10) at KTH meet with Vice Dean Per Berglund, Carina Kjörling and student union representatives to discuss a range of issues. It is an important information exchange channel for schools and one of the few real opportunities to forge a consensus on many of our education issues.

The discussions are often very productive and it has developed from being purely a KTH information channel for its schools to a working organisation. The GA directors are all extremely well-informed about their respective school’s programmes, courses, possibilities and problems. Tomorrow’s topics discussion include the cross-programme project courses and LEQ (course evaluations). Another key issue is the “special entry requirements for courses” which could be a means to manage the students’ progression through our programmes. A good new model is for two GA directors to meet with Per and Carina before each GA meeting to discuss the issues on the agenda. This will help bring everybody up to date. Maybe it’s time for the group to shoulder more responsibility, for the quality improvement work at KTH, for instance.

As members of the GA group we also have the chance to reflect over matters and decisions raised at the Education Committee (UU) meeting which, among other things, is currently tackling the introduction/wind-up of programmes at KTH. As you may already know, the School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM) has sent an application to launch a new university engineering programme in Södertälje with the working title ”Industriell hållbarhet och driftsäkerhet” (“Industrial sustainability and operating reliability”). We will have to wait and see the end result. Finding a suitable name for new programmes is not easy. It needs to be both “selling” and appropriate.

Another important issue is the work on the syllabuses for our programmes. Anyway, we have already made a start on it and this is where we can implement longer-term improvements and fine-tune their learning outcomes and structures.

As Hans Havtun is the new programme director of the Energy and Sustainable Environment programme I would like to take the opportunity to thank Maria Malmström who has done a tremendous job for many years and welcome Hans on-board. I know that he is extremely enthusiastic about teaching issues and we need teachers who are, trust me. Naturally we hope that Maria continues to show dedication as a teacher on the programme.

Best regards

Per Lundqvist, GA