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 www.iea.org) 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 www.iea.org) 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 (intra.kth.se/itm/dokument/handlingsplaner). 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!


Wellness promotion to be increased to SEK 3000 per year in 2019

KTH  views health and wellness as an important concern, because employees who are fit and well have more chance of being able to meet the demands placed upon them by their work. Your health is not just a personal matter, it is also a shared resource that is crucial to the organisation’s performance. As of 2019, KTH will be increasing its wellness promotion to
SEK 3000 per calendar year and be giving staff the right to exercise during paid working hours by using a wellness hour.

All KTH employees are entitled to a wellness allowance that they canspend on activities that are approved by the Swedish Tax Agency as tax-free exercise. This includes gym visits, massages, golf, light therapy and swimming. To find out exactly what is included, a complete list can be viewed at the benefits portal KTH for me, where you can see how much of your wellness allowance is remaining.

Salary review

The salary review is now complete. This means that the new salaries will be paid on 20 December. New salaries will be paid retroactively from 1 October. All staff will be offered a meeting in the New Year regarding their new salaries, if they so wish.

All of us here at the school’s office would like to wish all staff a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!


New guidelines for how ITM-school should manage the written exams

We are in the middle of the semester and our days are filled with teaching and research activities at the same time as the daylight is becoming shorter and shorter. But luckily the advent season is coming up, which means that we are allowed to start hanging up advent candelabra and some Christmas decorations. This is something at least I enjoy very much:).

One of the most important news coming from me as dean of Education is that we are changing the guidelines for how we at the ITM-school should manage the written exams. There will be a school management decision that describes ITMs guidelines for managing written exams as a complement to the KTH exam rules. One of the most important aspects in the decision is that all teachers shall send a digital version of their exams to the studentexpeditions at least three working days before the exam date. This since it’s the studentsexpeditions responsibility to print the exams, make sure all the exam guards get their copies as well as delivering it to the FUNKA unit. This means that the possibility for teachers to print the exam themselves and then deliver it directly to the exam rooms disappear.

In addition we have also reinstate that the studentexpedition sends out an email to all the examinators approximately one week before the exam with the information on how many student that are notified, a room placement list (which shows the rooms that are booked for that specific exam) and a reminder to submit the exam to them no later than three days before the examination date.

Based on this I hope that the preparations and executions of all of our written exams will be improved and more efficient.

Another important educational issue is that ITM has specified the procedure for reporting a disciplinary matter (if we suspect that a student have been cheating). This process has been described in a presentation that I hope have reached all of you! If not please let me know.

Finally I hope you all read our Present Sigbritt Karlsson blog, Flexible employers wanted, where she shares her thoughts on the future working life for our students. https://www.kth.se/blogs/president/2018/10/flexible-employers-wanted/

If not I can recommend it since it was very interesting!

/Anna Jerbrant, Director of First and Second Cycle Education


Collaboration to Reach Excellence in Education, Research and Ranking

During November 6-7, eight universities from Japan, Korea, China, Canada,Taiwan Germany, France and Sweden met in Sendai in Japan to discuss the possibilities to collaborate to reach excellence in education and research. The event was arranged by Tohoku University who has an overall aim to reach a top 10 ranking in the fields of Spintronics, Environmental & Earth Science, Cosmic Physics, Machine Science, and Materials Science. Together with the Director of Studies Anders Eliasson I attended a workshop focusing on materials science, where collaborations within the areas of “Metallurgy”, “Materials Science” and “Materials Processing” were discussed. Each university was given one hour each to explain the education of BSc, MSc and PhD students. In addition, visits to laboratories and meeting with students took place the second day. Here it was clear that the equipment at Tohoku University is very modern and advanced.

It is clear that it is difficult to collaborate with other universities on a Bachelor level, with the exception from the University of British Colombia in Vancouver. They already have 30% foreign students on their Bachelor programs, which all are given in English. On a MSc level, it is clear that the simplest way to reach a fruitful collaboration is by students carrying out MSc theses at a partner university. However, it is possible to create double degree programs with some universities.

It is also clear that it seems quite easy to collaborate on a PhD level with most universities. For example, Tohoku University has received at least 1 student per year from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering KTH during the last 15 years. During this meeting it was clear from discussions with several faculty members that more KTH students are welcome to carry out research in their groups.

One peculiar reflection was that the French universities got complain from the French authorities that they were ranked very low in international rankings. Then, a number of institutes and universities recently merged into the University of Lyon, which in total has 140 000 students (Yes! You read it correctly!). In this way they anticipate that they fast will obtain a higher ranking. I have an innovative solution, namely that we merge all science universities in Sweden to create the Royal Nobel University of Science!

No, I am kidding! We really need to reconsider what is important for us at KTH and not only consider ranking. Our main impact is through our undergraduate and graduate students. We need to give them a suitable “toolbox” so that they can contribute to developing societies in an innovative and sustainable manner!

/ Pär Jönsson, Deputy Head of School