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Why membership in the KTH Faculty Board?

Why membership in the KTH Faculty Board?

KTH has three main tasks: education, research and co-operation. All are important. However, we may state that it is the BSc, MSc, and PhD education that makes the university unique. Research institutes and advanced companies are also researching. Large parts of the society co-operate but our co-operation is special since it aims at promoting our research and education. I am an active teacher and supervisor and have previously been both director of studies and responsible for an education program. I have the education matters very much at heart. Since a couple of years, I am the impact responsible person at my school. I have actively worked for making both education and co-operation heavier when evaluating merits at recruitment and promotion. If elected to FR, I will continue the work with these matters.


Of course, we must not forget the research. I use to speak about the geometry of research and then I mean that we need to guarantee that the university receives an increased number of narrow, deep, and long-lasting research projects. The Swedish research councils currently prioritize very broad and short-term projects with gravity centre at the high level of the innovation chain close to implementation. However, the universities need to continue to teach PhD students and these projects do not work very well for that purpose. Together with fellow teachers from KTH, Chalmers University in Göteborg and the technical universities in Lund and Luleå, I have tried to convince our colleagues in the construction sector to understand the need of improved financial possibilities for PhD students and PhD student projects and our efforts have been at least partly successful. This need is something that unifies us all at KTH.


A third item that I think is important is the Swedish language. According to our policy, KTH ought to be bi-lingual but I have a feeling that KTH is more and more anglified. For me, the word international means co-operation between nations. I think that we ought to go inside-out: Stockholm, the Mälar valley region, Scandinavia, Europe, and the world. I doubt that students, teachers, and researchers who go to KTH do it mainly due to a high ranking. I think that our beautiful capital, the Scandinavian political system, the rich and multi-lateral culture and surrounding nature including the open country have at least equal importance. We should not lose our self-confidence that only 10 million people speak Swedish. Use it parallel to English. Help all newcomers to get access to the Swedish language, which is the key to the Swedish society.


Last, some words about myself. I was born in 1958. I am married and lives in Bromma, 7 km west of Stockholm City. I started studying the civil engineering program in 1977 and have – with exception from six months in Austin and Urbana-Champaign – since then been working at KTH and its surroundings. During 12 years, I was managing director of the Swedish Cement and Concrete Research Institute located at the KTH Campus. I am professor in bridge design but concrete is my specific field. During some years, I was chairing the board of the non-profit society Swedish Concrete Association. I am active in both the North American and the global concrete association. Since slightly more than four years, I am heading the Dept. of Civil and Architectural Engineering at the School of Architecture and Built Environment. My mandate expires in end of June 2020. In a board or council, I am not nervous for expressing my mind but I always try to do it objectively and friendly. In order to relax from work, I spend the summer at my summer cottage on the lovely island Öland in the south of the Baltic Sea.

Profile picture of Johan Silfwerbrand