Category Archives: Dean of School

2019 – A year of more substantial School initiatives than previous years

Do you want to date a robot?

Now what, has the dean gone crazy? No, actually not, it’s a teaser for Södertälje Science Week 30/1 -2/2. Apart from robot dating you can listen to interesting talks including also some prominent faculty members of ITM as speakers. Besides, I like robots.

We have closed the books for the financial year 2018 with a positive result of 26,1 MSEK (6 from education and 20 from research and research education). The total income amounts 773 MSEK which means a substantial increase since the previous year, the main reason being the integration of Department of Learning in Engineering Sciences. The positive result also means that the capital brought forward from 2018 is on the positive side again which is very good when it comes to discussions with the KTH management about new initiatives. The positive financial result on the research and research education side is to a large extent planned, and this plan is connected closely to the four thematic and interdepartmental areas mentioned in my last blog in December and to the fact a fair amount of resources was allocated to ITM during 2018 for strengthening research and competence build-up in gender and equality at KTH.

Last week we had – according to the ITM tradition – a two-day Leaders’ Conference targeting a larger part of ITM colleagues with leader roles. All leaders cannot be invited every year because it would be too many. We were some 40+ colleagues gathered at Såstaholm in Täby and this year the invitees were all unit leaders, support function managers, the ITM management team, the persons responsible for our doctoral program and finally our Grundutbildningsutskott. The three main topics discussed were:

  • How to prioritize and start implementing some of the many ambitious activities and objectives outlined in our development plan?
  • How to reach a more effective interplay between academic activities and support functions? Group works led by support function managers (Service centre, HR, Economy, Education support, Communication, EU project support) resulted in both concrete development ideas and fruitful discussions.
  • How should we increase the scientific impact (publication, citation) of our research activities? This is a prioritized topic at KTH and all schools are required to deliver plans and activities that lead to stronger impact, not the least for contributing to the ranking of KTH in a global context.

All these topics will now be taken forward within the School through our normal organisational structures but also through dedicated working groups and initiative leaders.

This was all for now!


Threats ahead, challenges ahead, plans ahead, initiatives ahead, holidays ahead

In a recent guest editorial article in SvD about the climate threat and the impact of its counter-measures on our economy it is argued that we are facing huge costs (in the range of thousands of billions of dollars) while still not even coming close to the 1.5 degree target. This is not surprising given the fact that 81,4% (2015, source of the global energy production is based on fossil fuels. Adding to this that the positive trend of electrification still suffers from the fact the 66% (2015, source of the global electricity supply comes from fossil fuels. The climate change is obviously a threat but we must view it as a challenge for education, research, innovation and entrepreneurship. Even though the huge cost estimates above are very imprecise they also imply a huge need and room for innovation and entrepreneurship. And for sure digitalization will – if wisely utilized – be an important tool in this necessary societal transformation towards sustainability.

Education and research at ITM is broad and of course not all activities are directly related to sustainability but if you start to categorize what is actually being done it will become clear that a lot of what we do has elements of and relations to the different sustainability goals. This is a good basis for realizing the ambitious plans manifested in the ITM Development Plan 2018-2023 ( As usual, the School has during the fall proposed new initiatives and “negotiated” with KTH management about these initiatives. For KTH as whole based on discussions with and between all five Schools, the result is documented in the “Verksamhetsplan för KTH 2019”. More specifically for ITM, the School has identified four thematic and interdepartmental areas where a larger part of the negotiated resources will be spent. These are:

  • Industrial transformation through digitalisation, renewable energy and circular economy
  • Integrated mechanics, components and materials design including additive manufacturing
  • Sustainable energy systems: Technical and business perspectives
  • Innovation eco-systems, innovation management and entrepreneurship

During an ITM management meeting in December it was decided how these areas will be operated and led. Early 2019 more information will come.

Finally I conclude that education and research is always, and for obvious reasons, communicated as our core activities. However, without professional administrative support we would not be able to deliver according to what society expects. I wish everyone Happy Holidays, but this year with a little extra emphasis to all of you who are providing support to our teaching and research staff/students.

Let´s meet in January 2019 with new energy and fresh ideas!


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 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

The future of ITM

Many of our faculty members, researchers and teachers are now in one way or the other involved in sketching the future of ITM via intensive work on the ITM development plan 2018-2023. Already now I choose to disclose a few quotes from the current development plan draft:

The vision of our school is to be a preferred partner – nationally and internationally – for students, faculty, industry and society in the area of industrial engineering with particular focus on manufacturing, energy and transport. Our main mission is to be a leading contributor to the transition of this industry to a future sustainable state characterized by new product and service designs, new materials, new business models, renewable energy systems, recycling, reuse and remanufacture.

The School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM) graduates yearly 10% of all new MSc engineers in Sweden. These engineering graduates constitute our most direct and powerful impact force on society. No other educational establishment in Sweden has such a large opportunity to influence the society through industrial engineering. With this comes an enormous responsibility to make sure that our graduates possess the right knowledge, skills and capabilities. Our School is determined to take the opportunity and accept the responsibility to firmly develop our education programs in the direction of sustainability.

The coming steps regarding our development plan is that a draft will be distributed to the School’s Strategic Council and to all faculty members, researchers and teachers by the end of this week. And in the following week, the draft will be discussed in the Strategic Council meeting on June 19 and at the Faculty Club meeting on June 20. A finalized version will be submitted to our president by June 30.

The ITM Strategic Council has from this spring new representatives from the School; from our faculty the new representatives are Viktoria Martin (EGI), Per Lundqvist (EGI), Martin Törngren (MMK) and Cali Nuur (INDEK). The technical/administrative side is represented by Caroline Ahlstedt (INDEK). As external members we have Rachel Pettersson, research manager at Jernkontoret, Jonas Mann, vice president R&D industrial technique at Atlas Copco, and Per Grünewald, founding partner, Pegroco Invest. KTH management is represented by Vice president for digitalisation, Jan Gulliksen, as an adjunct member.

Equality and equal treatment are core values of KTH. An equality office has been set up centrally at KTH led by Anna Wahl, Vice President for gender equality and values. As we all know, Anna is also professor in gender, organization and management at ITM. The current KTH focus on gender equality has also led to quite substantial new resources to increase and strengthen the research and education on gender equality, led by Anna Wahl and her team. To enforce equality and equal treatment under the slogan “One KTH” every school has appointed a responsible person (JMLA) to monitor and supervise our development towards a more equal working place and towards a more equal society. The ITM management team has appointed professor Sofia Ritzén as our JMLA.

Finally I wish you all and nice and equal summer vacation!

Jan Wikander, Head of School

ITM has become bigger and will continue to grow

From 1st of January ITM includes a seventh department (Institutionen för lärande) and our Department of Sustainable Production (HPU) has now moved to the brand new campus in Södertälje. Without these promising changes and developments we would have been the smallest of the five new Schools. Now we are next to smallest. Although growth is not a target in itself, ITM will continue to grow over the coming years. There are mainly three facts/trends behind giving this growth forecast:

  • The new HPU department is now “only” in its initial state. The department has a rather aggressive and challenging growth plan including the new education programs and the build-up of research groups around the three new professorships. One could say that we now have concluded phase one, and that the growth phase now starts.
  • With rather in-depth arguments we have negotiated with KTH management in order to reach a higher ratio between state funding for research and state funding for education. In this respect we are in the same league as the ABE School but very far from the other three schools. (see my last blog). These negotiations have now resulted in two things: i) Additional temporary (3-year) funding to reach a better balance and ii) partly led to the fact that KTH will investigate and redesign the principles for how the state funding is distributed between the schools.
  • Thanks to a very active faculty, we see during the last four years a stable increase in external funding achieved in hard competition, both nationally and internationally.

We have now closed the books for 2017 and we conclude that out economy is in balance. Total income is 591 MSEK and total cost is 591 MSEK. Education is around -1.5 MSEK and research is around +1,5 MSEK. Although the Scholl overall is in balance some departments are in a little less fortunate situation and the School will be working hard to improve this during 2018.

Finally, please note the Science week between January 31 and February 4 in connection with the inauguration of our new campus in Södertälje. The whole week is full if exciting activities and seminars. Here are just a few examples of the more than 25 topics covered:

  • Open house in the new premises – come and have look!
  • Cyberphysical systems in logistics and production!
  • Smart factories in Korea and Sweden!
  • KTH-Lean: Leadership, holistic workflows and systematic improvements!
  • On the way to heavy vehicle platooning!
  • VR-glasses and GO-PRO in pharmaceutical production!
  • Last but not least Kristina Palm and the undersigned will explain how we, together with colleagues, made it all happen!

You find the full program here.

I wish you all a rewarding 2018,

Jan Wikander, Head of School