Ask Gerrit questions about KTH and read more about his decision to study at KTH, thoughts about Sweden, advice to prospective students and his plans for the future.
Hej! My name is Gerrit and I am from Germany. My master’s programme is Production Engineering and Management at the School of Industrial Engineering and Management on KTH Campus. Previously, I studied at TU Braunschweig in Germany and at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. I used to live in the United Kingdom as well. My hobbies are playing volleyball and travelling. Being very interested in politics, I enjoy exchanging ideas with people and also discussing controversial topics.
Why did you choose this master’s programme at KTH?
Apart from the offered curriculum, studying in English in another country and Sweden in particular appealed to me. I wanted to deepen my intercultural abilities and get to know people from countries across the globe, which I find truly enriching. Pursuing a master’s programme of two years in length and at a comparatively low cost were two more of my criteria. The reputation of KTH is very good, and KTH has many good partner universities worldwide where you can spend a semester abroad. Stockholm as a city also offers an exceptionally high quality of life.
The Production Engineering and Management programme at KTH suits my interests and abilities, is interdisciplinary and ties in with my previous studies. The master’s programme offers plenty of opportunities to combine theoretical and practical aspects and to work in groups. It allows you to interact with others, to use the strengths of the individual group members and to get to know different points of view and approaches.
What are the best aspects of your programme?
One of the best aspects is that, besides the mandatory and conditionally elective courses which mostly cover topics of manufacturing and mechanical engineering, you can choose among a large variety of elective courses. Here, you can extend your knowledge in production engineering or select courses in areas such as industrial engineering, business administration or computer science.
Another aspect is that the programme prepares you for your future professional life, for example by requiring a lot of teamwork, working with people from different cultural backgrounds and communicating in English. There is a good student-faculty ratio in the programme and many of the courses are small and interactive, giving you the opportunity or even encouraging you to ask questions and to contribute your ideas. The teachers are more approachable, which creates a pleasant working atmosphere. Even the professors are addressed by their first names and the hierarchies are flatter than what I am used to.
I am always surprised to see how superb the infrastructure and how new the equipment at KTH is. Besides the auditoriums and classrooms, many places to study are available as well as various computer labs, cafeterias and recreational facilities. They are all in a very good condition, which makes KTH a very comfortable environment to study and to socialise.
Have you chosen a specialisation track within the programme? If Yes, which track and why?
My programme has no specialisations. However, it has four recommended profiles: Industrial IT Systems, Production Development, Production Engineering and Management, and Industrial Welding. Each profile consists of several conditionally elective courses. The courses I am taking come closest to the profile Production Engineering and Management because it gives you a wholistic perspective. I have decided not to follow the profile one-to-one because I would like to learn in an even more comprehensive and independent way. Like that, I have the freedom to choose courses that will be the most helpful for the career I am imagining for myself.
What are some of your favourite courses so far?
Two of my favourite courses have been Modern Industrial Metrology and Quality Control. The courses were appealing in terms of content, well-structured and practical, so that you have also learned a lot for life. Despite the difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the switch to digital teaching was made quickly and was well-implemented. There were no delays; KTH promptly announced that everyone would be able to complete their planned courses in the upcoming study period without delay, and KTH has fulfilled this commitment.
How does studies at KTH differ from your previous studies?
Studies at KTH differ from my previous studies in many ways. In short, the studies here can mean hard work at times and little vacation, but a deep understanding and a supportive atmosphere.
The academic year is divided into four study periods of seven weeks in length each with a subsequent exam period instead of two semesters. In each study period, you take on average three to four courses instead of six to eight courses at a time. The courses usually comprise not only theoretical, but also practical parts. Various guest lectures, company visits and lunch seminars are offered.
Furthermore, the class schedule can change from week to week. The courses are more regimented and sometimes attendance is compulsory, but this approach encourages continuous learning and working in my opinion. Hence, it is less likely you will have to extend your studies beyond the two years. The workload is higher and often involves handing in assignments, participating in group work and from time to time giving a presentation. Thus, there is more to do than just to attend lectures, but less pressure during exam periods since not every course concludes with an exam. Some course elements are evaluated just with pass or fail, and the master’s thesis is also only pass-fail. Regarding the master’s thesis, it is more common to do it in industry and it is possible to write it in a group of two.
In general, everything is more student-friendly, flexible and less strict at KTH. Within the master’s programme, the atmosphere is almost familial and not anonymous at all. You get on well with everyone and also do a lot of things together in the evening or on weekends. We often cook together or travel within and outside of Sweden. Another difference is that many international students choose the programme.
Finally, the summer break lasts from beginning of June to end of August and can be used for summer internships or jobs.
How is student life in Stockholm?
KTH offers countless activities and many opportunities for international students through THS, the students’ union at KTH. The THS International Reception, the introductory programme at KTH, is very well-organised and you get to know so many interesting people in such a short period of time and quickly make friends. Afterwards, it never gets boring with the various pubs, chapter parties and other regular events on KTH Campus, which is centrally located in Stockholm. There are a lot of extracurricular groups and events you can join, such as THS Armada, Students’ Nobel NightCap and KTH Hyperloop. In addition, there are many possibilities to do sports, e.g. at KTH-hallen or at Frescati Sports Center.
The City of Stockholm is the vibrant, international centre of Stockholm County with its more than 2.3 million inhabitants. Stockholm has all the amenities, attractions and cultural events of a capital city. The high level of proficiency in English makes it easy to get along everywhere without learning Swedish (which I recommend trying to do though). There is something for everyone with things to do ranging from simply meeting for fika to checking out Stockholm’s museums. Additionally, there are a lot of small islands and you can enjoy the beautiful nature outside the city. You are never far from water or from a forest trail, so you can go kayaking in the archipelago or hiking in a nature reserve. It is evident that Sweden focuses the environment and sustainability and also tries to treat everyone as equally as possible. And if I would have to name three things that I had not encountered like that before, then they would be the more relaxed attitude towards everyday life, unisex toilets, and paying everything with your credit card.
By the way, it is also possible to work part-time besides your studies. I am working as a student assistant at the Powertrain Manufacturing for Heavy Vehicles Application Lab, a collaboration between KTH and Fraunhofer. With many exciting projects and industry partners, you have the opportunity to extend your theoretical knowledge and put it into practice in a research environment. If you are seeking hands-on experience, I can really recommend it!
How would you describe your time at KTH so far?
My time at KTH went by very quickly so far. KTH and Stockholm were and are fantastic experiences for me, which helped me to grow and which I would make again any time if I had the choice. Not to forget the great and inspiring people I met on the way! Sometimes I have worked a lot for university, but I always had fun and enjoyed doing it. Overall, the time has been rewarding and memorable, and I will most probably miss it once it is over!
What do you want to do after graduating?
On a professional level, I am aiming for a career in an internationally active industrial company with management responsibility. In doing so, I would like to gain further experience abroad and get to know other countries in order to improve my intercultural competences and extend my language skills. Furthermore, I want to gather new impressions and make new contacts.
What would you like to say to students thinking of choosing KTH for master’s studies?
Go for it! I did not check out KTH beforehand in person, just flew over with my suitcase without even having found an accommodation – and I was not disappointed at all. Looking back now, it was totally the right thing to do to come to KTH!
As mentioned previously, it is common to write your master's thesis in a company, as there are many co-operations and opportunities. So maybe there is also the possibility for you to work in Sweden if you choose to stay after your master’s studies.
If you have any questions or need more specific advice, please do not hesitate to contact the ITM School or me directly and we will help you.