A milestone for KTH's newest campus
A batch of students and a doctor - the first eggs from KTH Södertälje are hatching. Now KTH's newest campus want to establish more collaborations within KTH - "Sustainable production is an interdisciplinary area", says head of department Magnus Wiktorsson.
In the spring of 2014, Minister of Education Jan Björklund presented a new major education and research initiative to be located in Södertälje. With Astra Zeneca's Sweden manager and Scania's CEO by his side, he presented the idea of a new KTH campus with a science park: a place to cultivate the contacts between companies, research and students. The initiative included new educational programs at the basic and advanced level, postgraduate education and research. Four years later, in January 2018, a shiny new campus was inaugurated with its focus on the subject of sustainable production, of course in close collaboration with Södertälje's industrial giants Scania and Astra Zeneca.
Now, in June 2021, the campus got its first technology doctor, and more than 150 participated on Zoom when he defended his thesis. At the same time the first students in the master's program given at KTH Södertälje graduated – and, as icing on the cake, so do the first engineering students who studied at KTH Södertälje.
” When we now see the students graduating, at the same time as we have our first doctoral dissertation in Södertälje, I see it as a real milestone”, says Magnus Wiktorsson, head of the department.
” Many years of hard work get results. We were about 25 KTH members in Södertälje when we moved into the new campus, today we’re about 65. But I am humble in all this - many people have worked extremely hard over the years for the development of programs, courses and the new campus.
One of those is Pernilla Ulfvengren, program manager for Industrial technology and sustainability. These are happy days for her too. But developing a master's degree program comes with many challenges, especially when teaching is located on two different campuses in different cities.
”It wasn’t completely clear to all students that many courses would take place at KTH Campus on Valhallavägen. The first 3 years have courses both on Valhallavägen and at KTH Södertälje. After the candidate, they can choose either the master's given in Södertälje, or one of four others given at KTH Campus. Commuting has been a challenge in the early years because it has required generous scheduling and flexible teachers.
During the pandemic, KTH Södertälje reacted quickly and launched further educations, both the new Technical Preparatory Year at a distance with campus meetings, as well as individual courses and seminar series for professionals and layoffs.
Magnus Wiktorsson still sees the Department of Sustainable Production as an "academic startup", but the plan ahead is clear.
”We still have to grow to reach a critical mass in our research. I’d love to see other parts of KTH connect to the Södertälje campus. The focus area “Sustainable production” is also in itself an interdisciplinary area, which means that we have to include work with other parts of KTH. A concrete goal going forward is to establish a stronger doctoral program and eventually also establish our own doctoral program, which we do not have today.”
Text: Anna Gullers