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.
Some weeks are livelier and more enjoyable than others – like last week! Running from one meeting to the other like a squirrel is not always that fun but last week was actually very rewarding in that respect. Sometimes it just feels like a giant jig-saw puzzle that needs to be put together but without the “nice picture” meaning that there is very little guidance to figure out how to put the pieces together, if you get the metaphor.
Last week started with a good and productive steering group meeting for Energy and Environmental engineering program (W) with ABE, CHE and EES schools held together by Sissi Rizko and after lunch, Monday, I participated in a wonderfully creative workshop in one of our energy courses, MJ2410 Energy Management, where 130 students worked intensively on a plan for a Net-zero Energy Campus for KTH. It was an amazing activity and a topic that obviously really engaged the students. In four hours they came up with so many good ideas that we really could try to implement as a part of our Sustainability work. Great fun and very inspiring. Thanks to Hatef and Nelson for involving me!
Tuesday held the “first shovelling of sand event” for the new campus in Södertälje. It was a great event with around 300 people present and a great interest for the project with good and inspiring speeches from our folks; Prefect Kristina Palm and pro-rector Eva Malmström but also from the city from Scania and Astra Zeneca and from Mikael Damberg representing the Swedish Government as Minister for Enterprise. The same day we also had a small a “celebration dinner” in the evening for the team that has created the project KTH Live-in-lab so far.
Wednesday we again had the GA-meeting (about 8-10 per year) with all the other schools discussing several important issues, for instance the future structure of KTH education, who can supervise a M.Sc. thesis and so on. These meeting have really improved under the leadership of Per Berglund and Carina Kjörling. Last Thursday I also had the opportunity to lecture for KTH Executive School on the topic of Energy Systems and big data in the course Digital Transformation. Yes – you could imagine the preparations for that…
In between everything I had several meetings with our M.Sc students for their final projects and our Ph.D students. Friday was for some “unplanned” reason a day where all meetings were done by aid of Skype and Adobe Connect. It proved that we are able to use modern communication tools as well. We have students group on the American west coast, in Australia, in Singapore, in Hong Kong and in southern Europe along with the on-campus students all working together in groups. It´s a small world…
What will the future structure of education at KTH look like? Will we keep the “Civilingenjörsexamen” forever? Do we need as many programs as today? Can we afford the education we give today even in the future? If not, is the problem that many of our courses are run with too few students? According to recent statistics 579 out of 1739 courses at KTH are run with less than 16 students? Do we recognize this at ITM? If not, why? Are there any problems at all, really?
These are some of the questions and issues that were discussed today when GA (myself) and vice-GA Catharina Erlich met with KTH´s special investigator Anders Axelsson and Björn Marklund together with representatives from Science, ABE and ECE schools. Axelsson, the former president of LTH, will present the results from his investigation, and associated recommendations, during the spring. One particularly interesting point of discussion was the motivation for our programs. We tried to convey the message that our programs at ITM are needed and that they all fulfil their purpose for both students and industry.
A lot of discussions will obviously follow and it will be interesting to see the final conclusions. It is a true challenge for anyone to find the “ideal concept” for KTH and the different schools. One thing is clear, gone are the days when it was enough to attract the students to KTH in the first place with a fancy program name. We also need to “keep” them and transform them into successful world class students that manage to get their degree on time and an interesting job afterwards. It is my firm belief that the difference in profile and character we have developed and refined for our programs at ITM still is a good strategy for this to happen. Another key success factor for the future is to work hard to maintain the strong and positive involvement from our academic staff in different positions as “program managers”, teachers and study counselors working together and continuing being proud of what we do in the educational field.
Another interesting topic discussed today was the employability of our students and the recent prognosis that there will be a lack of högskoleingenjörsstudenter (“Bachelor of Engineering”) in Stockholm in the near future. It seems to me that we have a lot of god things for this in the pipeline at the ITM School and maybe there is time to mention some of the activities planned for 2016 in the next blog post this week.
My last input this week as a rookie blogger is more of a reflection on the “job” as GA at the ITM School. What most of you don’t know is that the assignment as GA at ITM should correspond to 40 %, i.e. two work days a week. It is thus not a full time job if anyone thinks so. I am also responsible for a number of PhD students, I teach several courses, handles a couple of international tasks and collaborations, attends board meetings, holds invited talks at conferences and so on, just like any other professor at ITM. Today, for example, I am on the evaluation board of a PhD at the school of Chemical engineering. This means that my calendar is permanently filled, every day, all the time. Sometimes it’s a mess. This will inevitably lead to double or even triple bookings and one has to prioritize one meeting over another, all the time, making some people disappointed or even irritated now and then. A lot of preparations for lectures and meeting have to be done in weekends or evenings. I would therefore like to take this opportunity to thank all supporting people in our organization that make my work life bearable. Without the great staff at our student office with Andreas in the lead it would be impossible and without our assistant GA, Catharina it would also be impossible. I would also like to thank our PA´s for the 5yr programs that takes on a big responsibility to maintain quality and relevance through constant change and development. I guess we all need a break for x-mas and right now I think I need it more than anyone else.
we have had some busy weeks preparing for new exiting projects improving our educational activities in the spring. One important project to be undertaken next year at school level is to map the progression of knowledge, skills and competences in Sustainability in our master programs. In a work-shop last week several of the master programs at ITM met and discussed the way forward. It is our common conclusion after the work-shop that a lot of good activities are there already but we need to find the appropriate language to highlight it enough. In other words – we need to make all our good efforts more visible. But there is also more work to be done of course. Other important activities have been the start of joint JML-projects with our student sections. Our Vice-GA Catharina Erlich is taking good care of that in collaboration with Sissi Rizko.
Our school is also a more safer work place now since your GA (and some other colleagues) have taken the Heart-and-Lung-Saving-Course. Now we can even operate the Heart-starter but we hope it will never be needed of course. If you have not taken the course, and there is still a chance – do it! It is well worth the time.