Monthly Archives: August 2018

Evaluation of research quality

In the academic world all researchers work hard to discover new findings, which will lead to great improvements in the scientific world. The leadership at universities monitors the success of groups/department with respect to the research quality. At KTH, this has been done at research evaluations (RAE) in 2008 and 2012.  It is not exactly clear when the next evaluation will be done, but a good guess is that it will take place in 2020.

Currently, I am in Helsinki to take part in a one week research evaluation of the materials science and metallurgy research at Aalto University, RAI2018. As a matter of fact I am also joined by our Head of School Jan Wikander, who has been invited to evaluate the mechanical engineering research at Aalto University. Overall, 45 scientist from all around the globe have been invited to this exercise. It is a very interesting experience that provides me and Jan with important input which we can share with the ITM researchers, so that they can be better prepared for a future evaluation at KTH.

One important thing with the evaluation is that each department should be compared to peers at other benchmark universities. Thus, there is not a focus on comparing department’s performances on a university level. This is very good since there exist different ways of publishing research results, having an impact on society, etc. So the focus should be on comparing how each department performs in comparison to similar departments elsewhere.

Aalto University is a fairly new university which in 2010 merged arts, business and engineering into one new school. What we have seen so far they have already been able to create new exciting collaborations. Maybe one interesting example is the production of textiles from forest-based raw material rest products that has been developed by engineers. Then, the art scientists have used these materials to produce fashion clothes that already have been shown on so called “cat walks”. Maybe later the business school will create business models on how these fashion clothes, produced based on recycled product, can be branded as a sustainable fashion!?

Overall, it seems like Aalto University has created an atmosphere which stimulates collaboration between different research groups and scientist. During the interviews it is clear that both PhD students and faculty thinks that laboratories have opened up so that basically everyone has access to all experimental equipment. Maybe something for us to think about…..

Pär Jönsson, Vice Head of School

Welcome back!

I hope that you all have had a relaxing summer vacation “despite” the nice weather.

It is clear that weather and climate are very different things but according to Professor Johan Rockström, SU and Stockholm Resilience Centre: “The warmest summer ever can only be explained by understanding that climate changes interact with weather” (my translation from svd.se/larmet-extremsommaren-konsekvens-av-uppvarmningen/om/johan-rockstrom). Further from the same article Professor Rockström responds to a question:

“Do we still have chance to alter the development?

  • Yes, we have. We are probably already now foreseeing an unavoidable 1.5 degree increase. But if we bend the global emission curve by 2020 at the latest and reach ZERO emission by 2050 we have a chance keep us below 2 degrees. But the only chance to succeed is that the world becomes fossil free by 2050 and that we manage all our eco-systems on the globe such that the planet maintains its resilience” ……”We have more and more evidence that a fossil free development is not only possible but also economically competitive compared to oil, coal and natural gas, and that it would give large benefits for societies in terms of economy, health, justice, democracy and safety.”

To meet these very clear objectives on emission reduction and finally elimination will require a lot of new solutions, approaches, products, systems, industries and behavioural patterns where industrial engineering is both a necessity and an enabler. Therefore it is my hope that you will now take the opportunity to read, or at least have a glance at the ITM Development plan 2018-2023.

Looking forward to a fruitful fall semester!

Jan Wikander, Head of School