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29 December 2014

New Year’s letter – Thank you and best wishes

This year is coming to a close. For me it also means the end of seven years as Dean of the Faculty of Engineering. It has been great fun. Life is always full of ups and downs, but at the Faculty of Engineering I have had far more ups than downs.

A summary of my time as Dean

I have spent the last month trying to summarise my time as Dean. It has been a difficult task as so much has happened. But that is a good thing. An organisation going through positive changes is always successful. I have used my previous Board reports as an aid in my attempts to summarise what has happened. I have also commented on important events in this blog. As I have been going through old posts I have had many deja-vu experiences.

When I was appointed back in 2008 we had just restructured our curriculum and changed to a new 5-year programme structure. So any further major changes to the curriculum were not on the cards. It is usually enough to completely restructure a curriculum every 10 years. We had many discussions about the quality of our programmes in relation to the experimental work that led to changes in how we allocate funds to our programmes. 2008 was a year when we had an all-time high in the number of 19-year olds in the population. At the same time, interest in engineering and science was at an all-time low. This led us to focus our energies on Vattenhallen Science Centre LTH. We believe that this has been a considerable contributing factor to our increased application numbers, even as we have an all-time low number of 19-year olds in 2017.

Much effort was put into Lund University’s research evaluation RQ08. The same goes for the efforts that were put into preparing for the research and innovation proposition of 2009. The Faculty of Engineering at Lund University did well, but we had probably counted on coming out top in a few additional areas, such as transport, risk and safety as well as energy. But these areas have done well in other ways.

The Engineering Students’ Union TLTH has celebrated two big anniversaries during my time as Dean – 25 years and 30 years. We have worked well together, which is something I am particularly thankful for. That is not to say that we have agreed on everything. It is rather a sign that our students have had real influence over the decisions that have been made. I would also like to take the opportunity to express how impressed I am by how professional our Students’ Union is. I have learnt a lot from you!

The number of applications to our programmes has risen steadily during my time as Dean. In 2010 we had the most number of applicants per available place of all the engineering faculties in the country. We were starting to ‘over produce’ but at the time we were confident that our extensive administrative capital would cover the resulting extra cost. We had not counted on the government and the university putting pressure on us to ‘burn’ our administrative capital, as it was expressed in the university Board. If I were to mention any disappointments during my time as Dean, this would be one of them – the government’s and the university Board’s failure to understand how a university with long programmes works. Changes take a long time to take effect – we cannot turn on a dime.

One of the best years I had as den was our 50th anniversary year – 2011. I will never forget our alumni evening at which we entertained 1,600 guests. We also managed to get our neighbouring industry partners to donate SEK 10.50m towards an anniversary professorship in industrial engineering and management. We wrote a book about the faculty’s 50-year long history, and lots of fun things happened.

When it comes to our educational programmes, the last few years have been characterised by under-funding. We have, in spite of this, managed to renew our programmes to the benefit of our research. After all, it is our research that dominates the faculty financially. Our external grants are considerable. We have been very successful within a wide range of areas and many new research centres. No-one mentioned, no-one forgotten. I do, however, have to mention our biggest research investment – our engine lab (motorlabbet). To support this, the university contributed with half of the central funds. We are grateful for that. We can see that our research is very strong within this area, and will continue to grow stronger as demands for efficiency, different fuel types and  lower emissions increase.

What have been my low-points as Dean?

- We are not getting paid for the work we do within our educational programmes. Despite being under-financed, our teachers and students are accomplishing great things. The great skill our teachers have, combined with our students’ high ambitions lead to good results.

- I am also sad that our politicians do not understand that they are missing a great opportunity to ensure that we have enough engineers to meet future demand. We hope that they will think again and increase the number of student places on our programmes. For the moment we are forced to turn away a long line of good applicants who want to study engineering.

….and high-points?

- Our researchers have provided countless success stories within a wide range of research areas. Our strategic plan states that “diversity is our strength – excellence is a product of breadth”. We have really shown that to be true.

- The trend for increased interest in engineering, technology and science continues. We have many applicants to our programmes and a record number of visitors to Vattenhallen Science Centre. Vattenhallen has become important to all of us: researchers, teachers, students and administrative staff. At Vattenhallen we all work together.

- All the positive and creative people I have had the priveledge of working with. There are many of you! I have been known to say that the worst part of being dean is that you have to say no so often. But with strong support from the leadership team and other colleagues, it has been easier to give a justified no. I would also like to say a big thank you to my wife, Lena, who has provided great support on the home front.

Best of luck!

And finally I would like to say a few words to Viktor Öwall, who takes over as dean as of 1 January 2015. In a blog post I wrote on 2 January 2009 I bade farewell to former university Vice-Chancellor Göran Bexell, and welcomed his successor, Per Eriksson. In this post, I offered the new Vice-Chancellor some advice under the following headings: vision, pride, collaboration, quality and the art of listening. I think these words are still worth passing on to both Viktor and Lund University’s new Vice-Chancellor Torbjörn von Schantz.

I wish you the very best of luck!

I hope that Viktor will feel just as happy as I do once his years as dean are over. I am convinced that he will. We have so much to be proud of!

I will be spending the coming year at the Department of Chemical Engineering, so I hope to stay in touch with as many of you as possible.

Thank you all for the last seven years, and I wish everyone a very happy New Year!

THANK YOU!

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

 

 

2 December 2014

To part is to die a little

Last week we hosted both a retiree farewell dinner and a graduation ceremony. Both represented an end to a long relationship with the Faculty of Engineering at Lund University. I don’t really want to see it as an ending. We want everyone who leaves us to carry with them positive memories of our faculty. That helps us stay in touch. It is good for the Faculty of Engineering to get feedback on what we are doing from people who know us well, but can also look at us with an outside perspective.

In connection to both of these events I was given the opportunity to give thanks and to congratulate.

To our recent retirees of 2014 (from a speech given at the farewell dinner)

We have a long-standing tradition of thanking our recent retirees by hosting a festive dinner and handing out a simple gift as a memory of LTH. It is LTH’s way of thanking you for everything you have done for us. As the years go by I see more and more close colleagues at this dinner. You are where I will be in one year’s time, as I leave the Dean’s post in the new year.

When you are about to finish a long project, for instance when it is time to retire or leave a Dean’s post, it is fairly common to try to summarise what has happened over the years.

What has been good, and what has been bad?

When the Faculty of Engineering celebrated it’s 50th anniversary, we summarised our history in a 50th anniversary book. I would therefore like to give a special thank you to one of our recent retirees, Mats Nygren, who, along with Skotte Mårtensson, documented our first 50 years in a very comprehensive way. Thank you Mats and Skotte. Our official history has been written.

But there is also a different history and different stories. They are the funny stories that we have experienced during our time here. The best stories probably are not even true – they are just old tales we like to recount. But still – they are just as fun to tell.

Have you heard the one about how the inkjet printer was invented here at LTH? I am not quite sure how where this tale comes from, but it involves a Christmas party one snowy winter, and writing one’s name in the snow.

Have you heard about the two strong Professors at Kemicentrum who could tear a phone book in half with their bare hands?

Have you heard about the underground tunnels underneath campus that stretch all the way down to the hospital? Is the Phantom of the Opera hiding out at LTH?

There are an endless number of these funny stories and old tales that haven’t been documented yet.
You are part of LTH’s history. You have helped to bring us to where we are today. We have evolved from an educational institution to a research institution. You are leaving something you can be proud of.

We have an exciting future ahead of us. If we can link in with ESS and Max IV, the future looks even brighter. Success is down to us all. Together we have made the Faculty of Engineering, LTH what it is today.

The biggest problem you face now is that you will no longer be able to take time off.

There is no drama in aging: 

Age is a matter of mind
If you don´t mind
It doesn´t matter

Thank you for everything you have done for us!

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

 

 

2 December 2014

Graduation speech - to our new graduates

You are the best engineers, architects and industrial designers ever to graduate from the Faculty of Engineering at Lund University.

in spite of the changes to the maths curriculum in schools
in spite of the PISA school reviews

How can I be so sure of that?

You were taught as early as pre-school to ask the question ”why”. You have been encouraged to be curious. You have been encouraged to question. This has made you creative.

During your time at the Faculty of Engineering at Lund University, you have continuously been asked to solve problems. Many problems. Different types of problems. You have had access to a wealth of advanced calculation tools to help you. Problem solving is more advanced today than it has been before. That means that more ‘real world’ problems can be solved. You are therefore better at problem solving than those who have gone before you, and that is the most important skill an engineer can have.

That makes you better engineers!

How has your experience been at the Faculty of Engineering at Lund University?

If your experience has been positive, you will be our best ambassadors.

There have been a few things during your time here that you have found difficult. This can sometimes be turned into something positive. Let me give you a few examples:

  • Your studies have been fast-paced. You have learnt to deal with this, which gives you a competitive edge in the job market.
  • You have taken many courses simultaneously, which has trained you in the ability to keep many balls in the air.
  • You have covered a wide range of subjects. This creates great opportunities for choosing a variety of professional roles. And if you don’t like the job you get, you will easily be able to find a new one.
  • You have completed many assignments and taken many exams. You have always been required to deliver an answer. That has prepared you well for making tough decisions.
  • Exam re-takes have made allowances for you to fail and still be able to move forward. You always get a second chance!

As you hoopefully now appreciate, many of the things you found difficult have helped prepare you for your future career.

Your future is bright!

You will work with sustainable development, climate and energy issues. MAX IV and ESS are being built here.

You will be welcomed into the work force with open arms! Society will always need qualified people within many areas. Many predict that there will be a shortage of engineers in the future, as many as 1100 by the year 2020. The future is yours for the taking!

And finally a few words from a departing Dean:

You have an incredible and fun journey ahead of you!

I can promise you that – I have been on it myself!

Congratulations graduates, and I wish you all the best of luck for your future careers.

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

14 November 2014

Careers fair at the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

The Engineering Students’ Union, TLTH, have recently hosted this year’s careers fair ARKAD. A total of almost 150 companies took part in the two-day event held within the engineering campus. As usual it was a very successful event – well organised and a great opportunity to meet future potential employers. I have had the privilege of communicating with many people through a foreword in the ARKAD programme booklet, a speech at the ARKAD dinner and many meetings with companies. The following are a few of the messages that I have tried to convey. 

Our engineering students are better than ever before!

I often get asked questions about our new engineers. How are our new engineers doing? Are they better or worse than in previous years? My answer is that you are always getting better!
Many believe that our students’ level of maths skills from their schooling are not high enough to allow them to succeed with an engineering degree. It’s true that when they first arrive here, their maths skills aren’t as strong as they have been in earlier years. But they have many other new skills. They can use computers from day one. As they reach the end of their degree programmes, they are able to solve problems that were unsolvable 20 years ago. Computers help us formulate tasks in a more realistic way.

Similarly, they encounter many different types of problems that require different solution methodologies. That helps to develop their problem solving skills. It is this skill, among many others, that sets engineers apart.

Another thing that our new students bring is their approach new technologies – how they search for information, keep social networks alive, and constantly are reachable.

Our new engineers dare to challenge and ask questions. Many complain about the Swedish school system, but they forget that we are always encouraged to challenge and ask questions. That fosters creativity.

Our engineers are prepared for a global industry

The employer branding research company Universum carries out regular market analysis of the university world. One of their alumni surveys shows that engineering alumni from Lund University have the edge in terms of internationalisation. Many of our students participate in exchange studies abroad. We have exceptional exchange agreements with prestige universities around the world. There is also great interest from international students to study engineering at Lund University. One example is the large-scale Brasilian programme Science Without Borders, in which the government pays for 1000 student placements in Europe. This year, just over 90 of these students are coming to Sweden, of which 22 are coming to Lund University to study engineering.

The careers fair at the Faculty of Engineering is effective

From Universum’s research we can also see that the Faculty of Engineering at Lund University is set apart from other institutes in that more of our students find jobs through the careers fairs. ARKAD and other careers fairs organised by the student’s union play an important role. They are professionally organised. You can really feel the positive atmosphere while walking around among the different companies.

Congratulations to the engineering student’s union, TLTH, on hosting a fantastic event.

Congratulations to those of you who came away from the fair with a job. Many of you did – we now have the numbers to prove it.

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

3 November 2014

A fond farewell

Gerd Olsson, who worked at the Faculty Office, has retired. Since Gerd has always had a very mild demeanour she didn’t want us to make a big fuss over her retirement. So I’m giving her a farewell blog post instead of a farewell speech.

We have many colleagues who, like Gerd, keep a low profile but accomplish great things – especially amongst those in administrative support roles. Supporting our core operations of education and research does not often get you a place in the limelight. That is more often reserved for our researchers and teachers. But none of us can succeed on our own – we all need each other’s help.

Gerd is one of the individuals who have flown the flag for LTH almost since its inception. During my time as Dean, Gerd has worked on LTH’s infrastructure, amongst other things. That is often a thankless task. However, I am convinced that others who have worked on infrastructure projects have felt secure in the knowledge that Gerd always knew what was what. There can’t be many of LTH’s spaces she is not familiar with, or knows the cost of.

Thank you, Gerd, for your hard work and for playing ‘devil’s advocate’ in many infrastructure projects. Sometimes someone has to say ‘stop’, and that’s not always easy.

From all of us at LTH – a big thank you!

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

 

 

5 October 2014

School of Architecture celebrates 50th anniversary

(Excerpt from my speech given at the anniversary celebrations on 5 October.)

The Faculty of Engineering LTH celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011. Other anniversaries have since followed in close succession, starting with Physics and finishing with Chemistry next year. This year it is the School of Architecture’s turn to celebrate.

Our architecture programme is not a programme like all the others. When we revamped our education organisation in 2009, we differentiated between the traditional engineering programmes and the artistic ones. That was also when we informally created the schools of architecture and industrial design. Why is this important? For a number of reasons. A school of architecture has its own identity, both nationally and internationally. There are architecture students and teachers who look for schools that are of particular interest to them. Different schools have different identities and profiles. The school director plays a big role in this, as well as in creating the right atmosphere and working environment. Depending on the circumstances, you also have the advantage of choosing the most appropriate identity: Lund University, LTH or School of Architecture.

Architecture students also differ from other engineering students, in that they have to form and express personal opinions early on in the programme. It is an artistic process, and the artist and the artwork are closely linked. It can be a difficult process, but one that I believe helps the students to mature faster and become more contemplative. It would be no bad thing for this approach to take root in our more traditional engineering programmes. In artistic professions, the individual’s approach to their work more important than in other engineering programmes. An architecture student’s work always comes with a personal seal. For engineers it is more often the group’s or company’s overall result that is important.

The Swedish Higher Education Authority’s evaluation of our programmes places an increasing importance on our student’s degree projects. This is nothing new for our architects. Exams are an important part of the architecture programme. The question of how to evaluate or grade artistic work is always of relevance to our artistic programmes. A special teaching style is required in order for critique to form the basis for development and growth.

Our artistic schools have provided many highlights during my time as Dean, and I would like to thank you all for that. We now have a top quality, and newly renovated School of Architecture. LTH’s campus has a very special architectural expression thanks to Klas Anshelm. We have tried to help document the Anhelm legacy through, for example, the Anhelm exhibition at the museum of architecture in Stockholm (Arkitektur- och designcentrum).

Thanks to all of you for your hard work, and for creating a positive atmosphere at the School of Architecture.

And finally, thanks to all of our students for the joy you have given us through your exhibitions.

I nästa liv blir jag nog arkitekt. Om jag kommer in! Gratulerar till 50 år!

I think I might become an architect in my next life. If I manage to get in!

Happy 50th anniversary!

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

18 September 2014

 

Dear alumnus
We are finding more and more opportunities to stay in touch with our alumni community. We see you when you act as mentors for our undergraduate and PhD students. We see you in connection with various research projects, and when we hire new lecturers and professors. We hope that we will have even more reasons to see you as time goes by. The experience and insights you gain from your professional lives is of great value to LTH. 

As usual we hope that LTH-news helps to keep you informed about what we are up to. We also try to keep our website up to date, and there are plenty of social networks where we can share our information with a wider audience.

Research

LTH is continuing to develop its research platform. We are becoming increasingly dominant in terms of being awarded external grants (more than 70% of our research is financed by external grants). We remain highly successful, which means that we attract more than SEK 700m worth of external grants every year, which forms part of our research budget of approximately SEK 1.1b.

Research areas connected to the large research facilities ESS and MaxIV are of particular importance to us. Jan Björklund, Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, was here recently to inaugurate the building works for ESS. MaxIV is in the process of being fitted out with equipment, and will be opened in June 2016. We are starting a research school together with the faculties of medicine and natural sciences, with the aim of strengthening our young researchers’ ties to ESS and MaxIV. A competency centre for Production Materials Engineering (ProMatEn) at the Section for Industrial Production links industry contacts and ESS contacts within, e.g., processing technology for all the special materials that are used at these large-scale research facilities.

At our competency centre for public transport research, we are working alongside the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute and Malmö University – financed by Sweden’s three big-city regions. We believe this centre will produce many important and visible research results. Our National Centre for Renovations has quickly established a platform that serves as a resource for the construction industry in conjunction with various types of renovation projects.

Education

Practically all of our educational programmes remain extremely popular and attract a great deal of applications from prospective students. There is, in general, plenty of interest in science and technology related subjects. We still have more than 2 first-choice applicants for every available place we have. In order to be admitted to the Industrial Engineering and Management programme, students need to have obtained A’s in practically every subject in high school. This troubles us, as we know that there are many capable and motivated high school students who do not get in. We feel that Sweden’s politicians should invest more in education, and create an opportunity for the industry to replace those engineers who are due to retire in the next five years.

Collaboration and innovation

Our Assistant Dean for Collaboration and Innovation is working hard to develop our research portals. These portals are designed to be a virtual meeting place for cross-boundary research, where many different departments can come together. We hope that they will also serve as resources for our external contacts. When it comes to innovation, we can tell you about Olaf Diegel, our new professor of product design. His specialty is 3D printing, and many of you might already have seen him on YouTube playing his 3d printed saxophone. We are looking forward to many exciting developments on this front.  

We are currently in the process of electing a new Dean for the Faculty of Engineering, LTH, and a new Vice Chancellor for Lund University. At LTH, the Election Committee has proposed Professor Viktor Öwall be elected as Dean, and Professor Annika Mårtensson re-elected as Deputy-Dean. Torbjörn von Schantz has been proposed for the position of Vice Chancellor. Once the elections have been held, we will inform you of the new leadership teams that will be in place from 1 January 2015. 

The current management team and I are doing our best to make sure that our to-do lists can be picked up easily by the new management. We feel confident in this task. LTH is a well-run part of Lund University, in spite of our underfinanced programmes. There is a plan in place for that as well. 

You are always welcome to contact and visit us if you happen to be in the neighbourhood. Vattenhallen Science Centre LTH is usually open, and has plenty of activities and information for both young and older visitors. 

Anders Axelsson

Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

25 August 2014

Welcome speech to the Faculty of Engineering’s new students:

Hi!

My name is Anders Axelsson and I am the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering.

Welcome to LTH – the Faculty of Engineering at Lund University!

I would like to start by congratulating you – for a number of reasons.

1. Congratulations! You have done well in your studies.

We have had an unusually high number of applications and only those with very good grades have been accepted.

Unfortunately there are many others like you who also have very good grades, but who have not been accepted – something that we are extremely sorry for. We simply couldn’t finance any more places.

2. Congratulations! You will be our best engineers yet.

How can I be so sure of that? I can explain it like this:

I often get asked questions such as:

How are our new engineers doing? Are they better or worse?

My answer is that you are always getting better! Many believe that students’ level of maths skills from their schooling are not high enough to allow them to succeed with an engineering degree. It’s true that when most of you first arrive here, your maths skills aren’t as strong as they have been with students in previous years. But you have many other new skills:

– You can use computers from day one.

As you reach the end of your degree programme, you are able to solve problems that were unsolvable 20 years ago. Computers help us formulate tasks in a more realistic way.

– You encounter many different types of problems that require different solution methodologies. That helps to develop your problem solving skills. It is this skill, among many others, that sets engineers apart.

– You approach new technologies in a different way – in how you search for information, keep social networks alive, and how you can always be reached. In a nutshell: communication and experiences are central. How you experience technology is often more important that the technical components.

–You dare to challenge and ask questions. Many complain about the Swedish school system, but they forget that we are always encouraged to challenge and ask questions. That fosters your creativity. You are, by definition, creative!

3. Congratulations! You have an exciting future ahead of you.

Some of you will be done with your studies in 2019, and then you’ll be our new engineers, architects and industrial designers.

A lot will have happened by then – both for the faculty and for yourselves.

– Lund will be a European research centre.

You will all experience a world event here in Lund. A large-scale European research centre is being built here at the moment, in the shape of MaxIV and ESS. The former opens in 2016, and ESS will be ready in 2020 – almost as you finish your studies here. These facilities represent an investment of almost 20 billion Swedish kronor. Sometimes we like to say that we are building a new CERN in Lund.

– You are entering a new industry.

Back when I graduated from LTH, the goal was to be employed at a big company. The bigger companies have now mostly become global concerns, and have partly left Sweden. You will become part of an international industry.

Services, knowledge and recycling are becoming increasingly important industries. There is a trend for new engineers to start their own businesses.

– There are many great challenges.

It is just as important to save the world as it is to build it.

Climate, energy and resource management will most certainly be central to our industry.

4. Congratulations on choosing LTH!

– When you chose LTH you also chose Lund University. LTH is a part of Lund University. That means that the door is always open for you to make use of the university’s entire offering. When I travel abroad I am not just a part of LTH, but also Lund University. Lund University is ranked among the top 100 universities in the world. Everyone has heard of Lund University.

– When you chose LTH, you also chose Lund, which is a wonderful city to live in.
When you cholse Lund, you also chose an international city of science and educaiton.

– You will leave here with both a professional degree and an academic degree. You will have not only a Bachelor but also a Master of Science degree; you will be not only an architect but also a Master of Architecture, etc.

– LTH is doing well!

We are awarded large research grants and invest heavily in developing our educational programmes. We could educate many more engineers if we only received more government funding.

5. Congratulations! Your future is bright.

You will be ’employable’. There are many holes to be filled when you’re done. Not least due to the large groups of retirees. The indsutry is in need of more engineers now.

Welcome to LTH!

A great many people are helping to clear the path for you: teachers, administrators, alumni, etc. It’s up to you to run the race. If you fall, there will be a great man y people ready to help you get back up.

Du are one of us! We all work together!

Welcome!


Anders Axelsson

Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

20 August 2014

Welcome back from your summer holidays

Many of us are back at work this week after a fantastic summer break. Many of our researchers are still travelling around to different conferences. Those who have been here awhile already are already charging full steam ahead and filling up our diaries. There is a definite contrast between hot summer days and the drizzly rain of August; between the great calm and full inboxes, meetings and ringing telephones. But still – it’s nice to be back. Life will return to Lund on Monday when our new students arrive. We’ve already had a taster this week with the arrival of our international students. The full force of the autumn term will hit us in September. Exciting times!

This autumn is extra special as the current management team will make way for a new one at new year. That puts a bit of extra pressure on us. We can’t leave any skeletons in our closets or leave behind too many unfinished projects. That’s why we put together a list of long term and short term strategic priorities last spring. This will be beneficial both to the current and the new management team. LTH is brimming with activity and there will always be ongoing projects to hand over. This means I will have to fight all the way to the finish line.

The autumn will be packed with elections: elections for a new management team for LTH as well as the wider university, and also the general and local government elections. The latter can have a great impact on higher education – the issue of increasing the number of places on the countries university courses is a hot potato in the election debates.

The research facilities MaxIV and ESS are getting more and more visible and will become new landmarks for Lund, the university and LTH. Activities around our connections to these facilities will become increasingly intensive the closer they get.

It is going to be an exciting autumn!

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

4 July 2014

LTH and ICT – a forward-looking history

In a supplement in Sydsvenskan titled ”Our new IT and business systems” last week, I was asked to write an editorial about LTH and ICT. Read it here:

LTH turned 50 in 2011. Our neighbour, Ideon Science Park, is now 30 years old. Our collective history has been characterised by the development of the new ICT industry. When LTH was founded we were surrounded by fields and agricultural land. Now there are nearly 10,000 employees within ICT in the area. We offer many educational programmes linked to the ICT industry, and we feel a great responsibility towards providing the industry with skilled employees. We have to complement the industry. In times of recession there is more pressure on the education sector as we wait for more jobs to be created. Overall our relationship to the ICT industry can be described as win-win.

While private ICT companies have been multiplying around us, our own research within the areas has grown and developed. I often quote Mats Lindoff, former head of technology development at Sony Ericsson, who said: “When GSM technology was developed, it was done in the shape of 22 degree projects and 2 ‘lic’ projects at LTH.” This shows how close collaboration can be fruitful for both parties. LTH’s research centres within software and hardware have been, and remain, highly successful. They form a part of the business-focused Mobile Heights cluster. I believe that our collaboration with Malmö University and their investment in mobile services can be very fruitful in the future. At the new research centre MAPCI in Lund we are working with Cloud Computing. Sony and Region Skåne are also important parties with the ambition to showcase the quality and standard of the regional ICT industry – a ‘Scania Valley’. Many new companies with a focus on mobile services are being established here right now – new ‘app’ companies are popping up at an increasing pace. This is where we find many of our recent graduates turned entrepreneurs. The sky is the limit for this exciting development. The technology is already here.

Universities have an important role to play in connecting ICT to other scientific competencies. In the same way that academia works together across subject boundaries, the private sector must also work together across industry lines in order to find new innovations. We can act as a catalyst for this development. We will start seeing intelligent furniture, smart drugs, smart materials, not to mention everything that can happen within healthcare. We are already there.

ICT researchers knowledge about networks can just as easily be applied to public transport as to electricity and mobile networks. The very same ICT researchers are developing the linear accelerator for ESS. The general knowledge at our universities can be applied to many different areas. This is one of our challenges.

In a book about the history of Lund, Sverker Oredsson writes taht there are two things that stand out as being of extra importance for Lund’s development: the railway connection to Lund in the 1800’s and the placement of the new technical university in Lund in the 1900’s. What will be the big event in the 2000’s? I would be willing to bet that it will be something to do with ICT developments. Is anyone willing to counter?

The future is internationall – We have a bright future!

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

 

 

4 July 2014

The future of research

Dagens Industi published a supplement entitled ”The Future of Research” in the week leading up to the Almedal week on Gotland. I was interviewd by Christina B. Winroth. I believe my message is important, not least in light of the shift of focus from Stockholm to Visby. Imagine if the focus could shift even further south.
 
Here is the interview, written by Christina Winroth (translated at LTH):
Stockholm, look beyond the capital’s skyline
Sweden has good research results, but are behind in terms of commercialisation of those results. For a Dean at a university engineering faculty it would therefore be easy to look at the applied research and hope for better results. But not Anders Axelsson, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering (LTH) at Lund University.

”The university’s duty is to generate, develop and manage knowledge. We act as a knowledge bank at the public’s disposal. Universities are almost alone in pursuing ‘curiosity-led’ research – sadly less and less so.” says Anders Axelsson, who wants to see an increased respect between industry and university research conditions.

A common feature of university and industry research is problem solving, but there is one major difference. Industry research must be completed within a specified timeframe, and detours are sometimes necessary in order to reach the ultimate goal.

“The university’s job is to solve the problem, even if it means banging our heads against the wall in the process – but that is how we create new knowledge.”

From an international perspective, the Swedish research arena is special. Universities in Sweden apply for research grants in competition with each other to a much higher degree than in other countries. For many universities and higher education institutes these grants make up over 70 percent of research financing.

”Researchers in other countries do not have to finance their own salaries, or worry about financing their colleagues and PhD students. People who work in industry often say that employees in the private sector always have to generate their own salaries, or else they’re out of a job. This may be the case, the fact remains that industry researchers do not have to finance their own PhD students’ salaries as well.”

Regional potential
“Better basic funding and a more reasonable evaluation system would give researchers a much less stressful working environment” says Anders, who is tired of the top-down management of both research and education.

”It is not okay for a Minister to get involved with the details. When the first Research and Innovation Proposition came in 2009, the department decided which areas and diseases would receive research funding. Forest-related research and antibiotics resistance are two examples of research areas that didn’t make the cut.”

Anders Axelsson hopes for less interference and control around the details, and that Stockholm starts to look beyond the capital’s skyline.

”As an example, there is much more life science research in the Öresund region than it is in Stockholm or Uppsala. If our politicians realised this, and invested in the south, then we would profit from synergies within both research and entrepreneurship – even though we are a long way from Stockholm.” says Anders.

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

Ps. The same supplement features an article by Lars-Erik Wernersson, Electro- and information technology, about ”Nano threads in transistors – an tiny engineering revolution”.

 

 

30 June 2014

Summer is here

In the days leading up to the summer holidays we are all inundated with unfinished tasks. It is an indication of our desire to ‘clean our desks’ before taking our annual leave. For me it’s evidenced by an inbox full of unanswered emails, and a metre-high pile of documents on my desk. Most of it consists of degree certificates awaiting my signature. An important job! Good news should be given out before the holidays. Bad news can wait till later.

When I am signing degree certificates I usually listen to my emails. Due to my poor eyesight I often use text to speech software. Right now Elin is reading, but if I tire of her, I can switch to Erik. There are an equal number of male and female voices to choose from. A good tip is to listen to textbooks or important documents instead of music sometimes. A great opportunity to vary the way in which we take in information and learn new material.

When you’re cleaning your desk before going on holiday, “good enough” is good enough. Otherwise we would never be able to leave. We can’t let the summer pass us by.

My summer is about to start, with only a short break for a conference. Before I go, I would like to wish all of you a very happy summer break!

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

 

 

2 June 2014

Dear alumni

”Once LTH, always LTH”, or perhaps “a leopard doesn’t change its spots”. We hope you still feel like a part of our organisation. With this greeting ahead of the summer holidays, we would like to give you some information about what’s going on here at LTH. We hope that LTH-News is another way for you to stay informed. There are also plenty of social networking platforms where we hope you can share and spread our news to many others.

Research

LTH is an active research institution, which is evidenced by the fact that two thirds of our budget relates to research and our PhD programme. The only issue with this is that a large proportion of this money comes from external sources that we must compete for. However, we are highly successful in this area, and attract roughly 700 million SEK (ca. 77m EUR) of external funding each year, which is added to the research budget of around 1.1 billion SEK (ca. 121m EUR).

We are investing strategically in organisations with links to ESS and MaxIV – often in cooperation with the faculties of medicine and science. For example, we are starting up a research school within imaging with links to ESS and MaxIV. We are investing in researchers and infrastructure with this particular focus.

In order to stimulate and facilitate cross-boundary research contacts between departments and faculties, we are organising a number of research portals. The latest ones are a production portal and a materials portal. We are also creating different types of centres to coordinate important research areas, eg ProMatEn (Production Materials Engineering) and ‘Renoveringscentrum’ (Renovation Centre). The new engine lab has opened, strengthening our research in combustion processes, combustion engines and combustion physics. We have received substantial grants for these areas. The field of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is strong at LTH, not least because of the many important ICT companies in the area who act as partners in our research projects. The new research centre MAPCI, which focuses on cloud computing, is in full swing. Our cross-boundary approach has led to us starting a new department this year – the Department of Biomedical Engineering – which complements the Medicine and Technology programme we started a few years ago.

Education

One of the strengths in our research is the excellent links with our educational programmes.
Generally, the trend over the last few years of an increasing number of applications to our programmes continues, in spite of the overall decrease in the size of our target demographic. We have, on average, 2.1 first choice applicants per place. Industrial Engineering & Management and Architecture are still the programmes in highest demand. Unfortunately this means that we have to turn down very capable and motivated students with good grades, who would certainly have made excellent engineers.

Our graduates are sought after on the job market. The large number of imminent retirees make for a bright future for our recent graduates. The growing interest in science and technology seems to be here to stay, shown by the fact that we have more than 10 applications per place for our Engineering Foundation Year programme. All these applicants could also become excellent engineers with their level of motivation. Unfortunately they chose an A-level programme that doesn’t allow them to apply directly to a Bachelor or Master’s programme at LTH.

So why not just accept more students to the programmes? Unfortunately that is not how the Ministry of Education and Research sees it. We are instead forced to decrease the number of places on our programmes, due to underfinancing. We are doing everything we can to influence politicians and influencers on this issue, and are getting great help from the Swedish Association of Graduate Engineers, private industry, the region and industry organisations.

Collaboration and innovation

Our core operations – research and education – have for many years now been complemented by an increasingly important third area: collaboration and innovation. There is a lot of talk nowadays of transfer of knowledge and benefits to wider society. The government has tasked Vinnova with the job of creating a financing system to allocate funds to the higher education sector, which also takes collaboration into account. A key factor for success is to have many adjunct professors or teachers from industry tied to LTH. That shows our work is relevant. The same goes for industry PhD students. We are also keen to collaborate on various research projects. You as alumni play an important role in helping to create these connections. A win-win project is almost always sustainable and generates new developments.

Our neighbouring research parks – Ideon Science Park and Medicon Village – are highly successful. Ideon is nearly 30 years old, and has a view of the new landmark IDEON Gateway. Medicon Village is already home to nearly 1,000 people, which is well beyond the initial projections. Vårt flaggskepp i vår samverkan med skolor och allmänhet, Vattenhallen Science Center LTH, utvecklas hela tiden. Just nu har vi intressanta utställningar om ESS/Max IV och medicinsk teknik (Medicon Alley). Där kan ung som gammal få nya insikter och samtidigt ha roligt. Vi har fått donationer med avsikten att utöka verksamheten. Detta är för närvarande under utredning. Om det bli en utökad verksamhet kommer den att försöka täcka hela universitetets verksamhet på olika sätt.

Vattenhallen Science Centre – our flagship operation in terms of collaboration with schools and the general public – is in constant development. It is currently hosting some interesting exhibits about ESS and MaxIV, as well as medical technology (Medicon Alley). We have received donations in order to expand the operations – something we are currently investigating. If an expansion takes place, it will cover the full span of the university’s operations.

To quote our strategic plan, we are continuing to be ”a cross-boundary faculty of engineering within a world-class university that works to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition.” It is not without its challenges! And we have plenty of fun along the away!

I hope you have a wonderful summer break.

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

PS! Take the opportunity to watch our new research videos. You’ll find them all using the following link: http://www.lth.se/faculty-of-engineering-lth/research/research-videos/

13 May 2014

Movie premiere at LTH

A couple of weeks ago we invited staff and students to a movie premiere in the Kårhuset auditorium. Roughly 100 people attended the first showing. The movie was made up of 14 short films, each a maximum of 3.5 minutes long, that present 12 different researchers and their respective research areas.

Why have we made these films?

To showcase our breadth and depth within research, and to generate interest for LTH. Long story short – visibility!

When Lund University’s research evaluation RQ08 was presented by the reviewers they started by saying: “Lund University is world class – but you are the only ones who know about it.” This has since improved, but there’s more work to be done. However, it is a process that has to happen on an ongoing basis. Not to mention that everything is continually changing.

Who are the films aimed at?

Since we have had help from a professional film maker, the films are suitable for a wide audience. Potential students, potential PhD students, the general public, other researchers, and not least ourselves.

Why use film?

You’ll quickly see the answer to this question on the web. How often do we not find ourselves on YouTube, where a 3 minute film gives a much better overview of a topic than reading text on a website for 30 minutes.

Why these particular 14 films/researchers?

We often get the questions: ”What are you good at? What are your specialist areas?” Because of this we have tried to make a list of strong research areas. The research boards have also tried to define areas of strength. These lists are really long! I don’t believe that is due to an inability to sort and cull properly. Rather, I believe that it proves that we have great breadth. And that excellence is borne from that breadth.

This means that there are many films still unmade. I therefore hope that this movie premiere can help encourage more of our researchers to present their research in this way.

It’s good for our research!
It’s good for our programmes!
It’s good for recruitment!
It showcases the relevance of our research!

Many of our researchers have a story to tell. And not just a history, but a vision that looks to the future.

After the films had been shown our camera man and director, Peter Nordqvist , said that this was one of the most fun projects he had ever been involved. He described the enthusiasm he’d been met with. All the researchers involved have been very positive and accepting of the script edits and changes that Peter wanted to make.

I am doubly as proud of what the films show. They show our successful research, but also our researchers positive attitude. Their enthusiasm is contagious!

A final thank you goes to Peter and his ’crew’ (editor Henrik and compere Lotta Thorell, who tied the films together.) Thanks also to Lisbeth Wester, our Head of Communications and Marketing, for leading the project and being a sounding board for Peter.

We have now confirmed that what we say in our strategic plan isn’t just emply words. We are a broad faculty in a a broad university. And excellence is a product of breadth!

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

Watch the films in English on YouTube

17 April 2014

Collaboration and visibility / Easter holidays and socialising

We talk a lot about visibility. It is usually the larger university that is visible in the local media. Us ‘subsidiaries’ (faculties) are more visible on a national and international level. LTH is a big player in many such areas. A few weeks ago we hosted a large European conference (European Convention of Engineering Deans), attended by 80 delegates from 25 countries. Within this network, as well as the Nordic NORDTEK network, LTH has taken on an important role as the link between engineering universities and faculties and the large research facilities that are being built in Lund.  Thomas Olsson from LTH’s Academic Development Unit (Genombrottet) is giving the plenary lecture at the NORDTEK conference in June, focusing on our commitment to developing our teaching methods and our work to reward good teaching efforts (eg Teaching Academy). Last week LTH, led by Lise Jensen) organised a national cooperation meeting for every higher education institute in Sweden that offer a Bachelor degree in Engineering. On Wednesday 23 April we will be visible in an entirely new way. That is when we will be hosting a film premier of 14 short films about cutting edge research at LTH. These films will be available online after the premier, and showcase a few of our many exciting research areas.

Easter holidays

Routines help us organise our work effectively, but they can sometimes be wearing. Oftentimes breaks and the opportunity to do something different that adds value and generates more energy. When we are at home we do not ‘collaborate’ – we socialise. I have a tendency to torture my friends and family (young and old) with quizzes and riddles about Easter. They pretend to like it. Here is a selection from my repertoire, which can hopefully inspire someone (‘share’ – ‘like’?)
Why are some eggs brown?
a. The hen is a smoker
b. The hen has brown feathers
c. You put the white eggs in a solution of salted brownstone (manga dioxide) which makes them brown.

Why are some eggs smaller than others?
a. The hen is given a fright so that she lays the egg quicker
b. Young hens lay small eggs, old hens lay big eggs
c. The hens are fed a growth inhibitor – prostaglandegg
Jag försöker vara aktuell men jag kommer inte att använda vetenskapsnyheten att 6 miljoner gula små nyfödda tuppkycklingar avlivas varje år i Sverige. Det kommer bara att störa påsk friden.
I try to stay current, but will leave out the news that 6 million yellow little rooster chicks are killed in Sweden every year. That would just ruin the atmosphere.

Solve the riddle:
8-1-16-16-25    5-1-19-20-5-18

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

 

 

1 April 2014

LTH – an important partner in the international community

On 2-3 April we have the honor of hosting the 6th European Convention of Engineering Deans. The event is organised jointly by LTH, SEFI and CESAER. Our theme is “Engineering in a connected world”.

One of the reasons why we have been asked to host the event is the large scale research facilities that are being planned and built in Lund. It also helps of course that we are active and well known in these networks. In bringing so many of the engineering universities in Europe to Lund, we hope to show them what opportunities these research facilities will present. We look forward to many international collaborations. View the full programme here.

LTH is active within a wide variety of international networks. Below is a list of the most important ones:

  • NORDTEK – a Nordic network for engineering universities and faculties
  • CESAER – a European network for technical and engineering universities
  • Magellaes – a network of South American universities
  • SEFI – the large European engineering organisation
  • T.I.M.E. – a world-wide network for select number of participants with the ambition of creating double degree programmes
  • GE3 – Global 3 – a network of approx. 30 American universities and 30 from the rest of the world

We even hold board positions within the first three networks on the list. In general these networks form the basis for student exchange and bilateral agreements. It is with a certain amount of pride that I note that we as faculty are able to take so much room on the international stage. This is when it is useful to have a dual identity. Lund University is among the top 100 in the world and provide top-down contacts. LTH is responsible for the bottom-up work, making sure that ‘internationalisation’ isn’t just another word in the strategic plan.


This is what our invitation to the conference says:

6th European Convention of Engineering Deans  -
“Engineering for a Connected World”
In the connected world, we share research facilities! How do we connect?
In the connected world, the education of engineers will be different. How?
In the connected world, new abilities are required for the teachers? Which?
In the connected world, industry and university are closely connected? How?

These and other questions will be discussed in Lund in April 2014. We welcome you to Lund University, which sometimes is described as “the connected university”, as cross-linking research and education is part of our strategy.

In Lund right now, three large research facilities are being planned and established in close connection to the university: the European Spallation Source (ESS), the synchrotron MAX IV and the science village Medicon Village, where the majority of cancer research at Lund university is located.

ESS engages 17 European countries, and the joint investment is the range of 2 billion Euros. It will by far the most versatile neutron source for material research. The Max IV source will be the most brilliant synchrotron light source in the world. It will be  inaugurated in June 2016, but already now you can see the main constructions.

We will offer you a spectacular walk in the large synchrotron ring at MaxIV. We will offer you a walk in the future.

We welcome you to Lund:

  • to see the future
  • to connect with colleagues
  • to discuss the challenges of engineering education
  • to learn how your university can connect to ESS and MaxIV
  • to experience  a lovely town in one of the most dynamic regions
  • to plan for the future

Anders Axelsson
Dean of Faculty of Engineering, Lund University

 

 

 

6 February 2014

Why do we have policies?

At the start of each year we follow up on our strategic plan. How did we do last year, and what are we going to do in the year to come? We break the plan down into concrete action points, and both long and short term goals. A strategic plan or policy is what sets our course. Even though the plan or policy does not provide specific instructions or details about what needs to be done, it creates a feeling of security within the organisation. We all have to live up to the same core values and we have a values-oriented strategic plan that applies to us all. In order to make things even clearer, we have developed a range of different policies that complement the strategic plan. The latest one is the “Policy for receiving new students at the Faculty of Engineering, LTH”. It describes how to apply our values in the welcoming of new students.

There are many examples of ways in which the lack of a policy has led to big problems. Many of us will remember the time, a few years ago, when the general public was in uproar because the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research held a massive party for its employees. Politicians from a nearby town were recently outed in the press for abusing public funds. Nearly all cases involve an unhealthy culture around alcohol consumption. This, coupled with the discussion around values that is ongoing here at LTH, led us to create a policy which deals with the alcohol culture in the student community.

One sentence within the new policy has been the source of much debate, and it concerns alcohol consumption. It is formulated in the following way: “Under normal circumstances, the activities carried out at LTH related to the reception of new students as well as other events during the year, shall be alcohol-free”.  This has been further clarified with regards to the reception of new students: “The welcome days in week 0, both day and night time, are alcohol-free, until 5pm on the Friday”. Week 0 is a scheduled part of the semester and requires active participation in all activities and taught classes. 

The policy is entirely in line with the work that is being done by IQ (a subsidiary of Systembolaget) together with SFS (Sveriges förenade studentkårer / The Swedish National Union of Students). They are working on a broad initiative to reduce the amount university students drink. A recent study of university level students has shown the following:

  • Roughly 7 out of 10 students feel there is an expectation to drink within the student community.
  • Nearly 6 out of 10 students have attended a student event where they feel too much alcohol was consumed.
  • Just over half think that university students drink more alcohol than their contemporaries not in higher education.
  • More than a third of students have declined to participate in student activities because they didn’t want to drink alcohol.

IQ and SFS are using these results as the basis for the project they are working on together with a number of universities and higher education institutes in Sweden.

For me it is natural to expect students and staff to adhere to the same rules when it comes to our values and alcohol consumption. We have a responsibility for our working environment that is the same for all groups of people at the university.

At the same time I have a great deal of respect for student traditions, and drinking songs are an established part of these traditions. Similarly, we have a culturally established social tradition that is worth preserving. But we must be able to combine these traditions with our thoughts around equal treatment and diversity, and maintaining a professional attitude to our work and studies.

It is important to highlight the enormous impact our current students have on how the reception of new students is shaped. It is amazing that over 600 older students volunteer to welcome and introduce roughly 1,200 new students. That is something we are very proud of. We boast about that just like we boast about how good our researchers are at attracting external funding.

What our researchers do means a lot to LTH.

What our students do means a lot to LTH.

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineer, LTH

 

 

 

20 Januari 2014

Whoosh – 2013 is over and 2014 will likely pass even quicker

We are now back to work and studies after a much needed break over the holidays. The exam period is over and campus is filling up with returning students. We’ll soon be up to full speed again. This year is bound to pass us by even quicker, and time will become an even scarcer resource – not least for me as I enter my final year as Dean at LTH. This has led me to recount a reflection over the acceleration of time.

Time is relative and logarithmic

Time is relative. Einstein taught us that, although he meant that it only starts to show when you approach the speed of light. But still – I mean that the length of a year depends on how old you are.

When you are 10 years old, 1 year represents 1/10 of your life – i.e. 10% of your life so far.
When you are 50 years old, 1 year represents 1/50 of your life – i.e. only 2% of your life so far.

One year is therefore 5 times shorter for a 50 year old than it is for a 10 year old.

The ’perceived length’ of one year is then shorter the older you get. Maybe now you are starting to understand why you don’t seem to have as much time as you used to. Using this logic, we can make the following definition:

The perceived length of one year is inversely proportional to actual age.

Now we just have to normalize the function, i.e. establish a fixed point in order to make comparisons. For me, one year was really one year when I was 20, which I will use as a basis for the comparison. That means:

The perceived length of one year = 20 / age
For a 10 year old, 1 year = 20/10 i.e. 2 years.
For a 50 year old, 1 year = 20/50 i.e. 0.4 years.

We can now, for example, calculate the ‘effective age’ for LTH by integrating the function from year 1 to 53:

We can apparently celebrate an effective 80th birthday, even though we only just celebrated 50 years back in 2011. My own effective age is not something I want to discuss openly – it is probably for the best that this is my final year as Dean. Time is therefore not only relative, but also logarithmic. For those of you who do not want to integrate, but still want to estimate their effective age, can use the table below:

Actual ageEffective age

% of life so far

(the model assumes a life span of 90 years!?)

10

4651%
206067%
306876%
407482%
507887%
608291%
708594%
808898%
9090100%


One might say it is terrible that we have all gotten so old. But don’t forget that we are collecting experiences at an impressive rate. In only 53 years, LTH has amassed 80 years’ worth of experience. We keep going in this manner until we reach 90, at which point our effective age coincides with our actual age. I’m not sure this means that we will have caught up with ourselves. What really happens when we pass 90 cannot be determined by this analysis.

The Management Team held a strategy day last Friday, at which we reviewed our strategic plan and updated our priorities. In spite of everything it is amazing that we’ve had time to do so much. I will say more about this when we have discussed our plans with the wider organisation.

As time is running away from us all, it is best that I round off here. The effective length of this year is only 0.4 years, so we’d better get a move on.

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

Ps. This time analysis is inspired by an article in the Journal of Irreproducible Results.

 

 

18 December 2013

Christmas greetings

As I have previously mentioned, our education finances are not as bouyant as they ought to be, and we have therefore decided that it doesn’t feel right to give ourselves Christmas gifts this year. This is unfortunate, as we are perhaps more deserving of them than ever this year. Great achievements and great efforts have been put in by many at LTH, all done to the highest possible standards. Impressive!
I will instead take the liberty of making a few Christmas wishes on behalf of LTH. I have thought about what LTH would like the most. I think we could probably do without the raw food juicer that has been declared the Christmas gift of 2014. I will focus instead on wishes that follow our three main areas of operation according to our strategic plan: education, research and collaboration.

Education
We know that our Santa Claus will not come in the shape of Jan Björklund, the Minster for Education, which means we will not, in all likelihood, receive any funds for additional student places. That would otherwise have been a great Christmas gift.
We wish that there were plenty of scholarships to help us receive more international students. I believe that the internationalisation of our universities can create physical meeting between students and researchers of all different nationalities. This could be the academic world’s contribution to increased understanding between different nations and peoples. In other, more concise words: a pathway to peace on earth. Because of this, I am not wishing for any MOOCs right now. I would like to delay those for good while yet.

Research
When it comes to research you could say that we make our Christmas gifts ourselves. We apply for research funding in competition with other higher education institutes, and are richly rewarded by a multitude of Santa Clauses, in the form of research councils, donors, the EU, private companies and so on. We have been ‘given’ close to SEK 700m during 2013. We would probably have preferred that the Santa Claus at the Ministry of Education had been able to give us better basic funding so that we could devote more time to the research itself. Creative, curiosity driven research cannot always be easily formulated in applications, nor be judged by our conventional peer-review system.
We would probably also like to explain to Santa that we have infrastructure requirements that extend past ESS and Max IV. They cannot be allowed to eat us out of house and home.

Collaboration
There is plenty to wish for in terms of collaboration with society. Some say that there are far too many Santas within the region’s innovation support system, which means that there aren’t enough funds left for Christmas gifts for the actual innovation process. 

In order to cement our collaboration with industry, LTH wishes for more adjunct professors, more industry PhD students and more cooperation opportunities with private businesses. To quote one of the Nobel prize winners this year, it is important for universities to work with both the “Application of Science” and “Applied Science”. According to Lund University’s motto, we are prepared for both. The basis for a technical institution lies in being able to apply technological science , and collaboration is an important part of this. I also wish that our success story Vattenhallen Science Centre can become a university wide resource. Science, technology and medicine are also cultural, and link to other operations in every faculty. Santa Claus has already brought us donations that will help towards the future of our science centre.

We have now given Santa Clause a long wish list for Christmas. I, however, stopped believing in Santa Clause many years ago. I am currently in the last stage of man’s belief in Santa, which is normally divided into four stages:

1. You believe in Santa Claus
2. You don’t believe in Santa Claus
3. You are Santa Claus
4. You look like Santa Claus

I don’t believe in Santa Claus. I do, however, believe in our own ability to create and achieve great things. This makes me feel even more secure, as there is there is a wealth of power, skill and determination within LTH. We will continue to understand, explain and improve for a successful future.

With this I would like to thank you all for your efforts during this past year, and wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

 

 

18 December 2013

Board meeting on Friday the thirteenth

The Faculty of Engineering’s Board met on Friday 13 December. Perhaps one should try to avoid ‘unlucky’ days, but the only trouble we had was with the phone connection to our Chairman, Michael Treschow, who was unfortunately unwell and therefore at home. Thankfully the issue resolved itself after a little while.

I suppose you could also say that the education finances are also causing a bit of trouble, but that is a problem that spans much wider than just one unlucky day. In December of last year the Board decided to put an action plan into place in order to resolve the underfinanced education programmes (or overproduction of graduates, to put it another way). The Board decided that we could permit ourselves to create a deficit of SEK 60m under a period of 3 years in order to achieve balance. During 2013 we have avoided generating a deficit by utilising our so-called administrative capital.

The operational budget for 2014 the Board approved on 13 December shows a deficit of SEK 27m. Our administrative capital has been depleted and can no longer be used to make up for the shortfall. The action plan includes a temporary stop on a number of short programmes. We have also given the Programme Boards the challenge of cutting 65 courses from the final year specialisation curriculum. The Board sees this as an opportunity to make savings already in 2014. A decision was made to reduce costs within the departments and the Faculty Office by SEK 10m. If we manage this we will have reduced the deficit down to SEK 17m. At the Board meeting we discussed different scenarios for reducing the overproduction of graduates by also stopping the engineering programme in accordance with the assignment the Board gave us back in October. This is currently being investigated and the total budget for 2014, including cost saving measures, will be decided on at the Board meeting in March.

It never feels good when our finances put a limit on our actions and choices. At the moment we cannot afford the smorgasbord of courses we offer our students, and have to adjust our appetites accordingly. However, it is important to keep in mind that LTH enjoy very healthy finances overall, due to the fact that our research, which dominates our operations, is so successful. But we can’t transfer money meant for research over to our education programmes willy-nilly.

I view our education finances and the recent evaluations of our programmes by the Swedish Higher Education Authority as opportunities to make positive changes, and as springboard for improvements, renewal and to make room for new initiatives.

We will also continue to work with all the opportunities that are available for balancing our education finances.

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

3 December 2013

Graduation ceremony, and what universities are good for

Last Friday we held our autumn graduation ceremony, or rather ceremonies. The interest from students to participate is so big that we have to hold two ceremonies on the same day. Not to mention the fact that we have two graduation occasions each year. Our honorary guest speaker, Hans Möller, CEO at Ideon Science Park, held an inspiring and thought provoking speech. The President of the Student’s Union and one of the graduates spoke as well, lending a feeling of authenticity and genuine experience to the ceremony. I also tried to convey a few thoughts as part of my welcome speech. The following is an excerpt from my speech to the graduates.

You have now devoted a few years to your studies at LTH! Are you happy with what you have experienced during that time? Have you learned anything? Have you learned anything else? With that I mean – have you had time for other things besides your textbooks? It is sometimes the other things, that fall outside of your studies, that creates the added value, experiences and memories. It is often the sum of all your experiences that is the most important. It is not just about your degree project, but the journey you took to get there that matters. In the olden days it used to be that you “lay in Lund” for a certain period of time. You were deemed to be educated once you had been here long enough – without really having to dive too deep into the books. That is not the case today! And definitely not at LTH!

These days there are more ways to educate yourself other than attending university. We now have access to the world’s collated knowledge in our mobile phones. We can discuss this knowledge using social media sites like Facebook. Someone coined the term “the wisdom of the crowds”. This means that the many collectively know more than individuals can on their own. The internet creates these crowds. Wikipedia should by this argument be better than the Encyclopedia Britannica (though not quality assured to the same extent).

MOOCs

There is a lot of talk about MOOCs at the moment (Massive Open Online Courses). As many as 100,000 students can be registered for a single MOOC. The big universities such as Harvard, Stanford and MIT have been early adopters of these internet-based courses. Students from all over the world register. However, around 70% quit after only a few weeks. Less than 10% graduate. There are also studies that show that 80% of students on MOOCs are academics. 

We reflect on the following:

Students are mainly after knowledge, and most are uninterested in obtaining a degree

Universities do not hold exclusive rights to knowledge, but (as yet) hold the rights to conferring degrees

What is the business model?
For students the benefits are obvious: save time and money!
For universities: Brand? Recruitment? How do we make the finances work?

So what are universities good for then?

Our answer to this involves the so-called knowledge triangle: education, research and innovation. Education and research are fairly obvious, but innovation is nowadays mentioned as a vital ingredient for a successful university. Private industry sees innovation as something that leads to entrepreneurship. For a university, innovation means developing new knowledge. 

Knowledge is the life force and future of universities. 

To develop new knowledge.

To pass our knowledge on.

To carry knowledge into the future.

This is the very foundation of a university.

Why won’t the internet and social media replace universities?

I believe that face-to-face meetings are becoming more and more important. We have seen evidence of this while renovating the buildings on campus. The demand for study areas and meeting rooms is steadily increasing. Our students prefer to study in groups on campus, than at home connected to the whole world. Real life meetings still come out on top. Universities are places to meet others!

In conclusion: A university is both a knowledge hub and a meeting place.

Finally I would like to welcome our graduates to the future. You can now do anything you want. Perhaps take a MOOC offered by LTH?

Congratulations to all of you! Best of luck with your chosen careers. All doors are now open to you!

Anders Axelsson

Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

 

11 November 2013

No admission to the TM programme in 2014
– a decision we would rather not have to make.

Today we decided not to admit any new students to the Technology Management (TM) programme during 2014. The same decision was taken by the School of Economics and Management, who run TM as a Master’s programme together with the Faculty of Engineering. The decision is based on a thorough investigation, and has been widely communicated. We received a number of letters and reactions even before the decision was formally made. We would like to thank you for your letters and reactions, and for the consideration that many have shown us and the TM programme. It is a testament to the high quality of programmes. As a bit of background, we would like to explain the context in which the decision was made.

Several higher education institutes in the country are battling with underfinancing (or over production, as it’s sometimes referred to), and the Faculty of Engineering in Lund is one of them. That the Ministry of Education have decided to reduce the number of student places doesn’t make it any easier. This means that we do not get reimbursed for all of the education we provide at the Faculty of Engineering.
There are many reasons for this, for instance that the Master of Engineering and architect programmes have been extended by half a year, the effect of which we are only just starting to see. We have tried to explain this problem in a previous blog post from November 2012: “A thankless task”.

Among the measures taken by the Faculty Board (in agreement with both LU’s and the faculty’s Management Teams) is an attempt to reduce the number of student places in our shorter programmes. If we make any changes within our longer programmes the effects will be felt for far too long. We have therefore paused the Engineering Foundation Year programme (which will start again in the autumn of 2014), the two-year Food Technology programme, two-year Master’s programmes, as well as several short independent courses.

The decision to pause admissions the Technology Management programme should be viewed within the context outlined above. All of our programmes are of a very high quality. We often say that we have Sweden’s best Engineering Foundation Year programme. The food industry was very concerned about our decision to pause the Food Technology programme as it fills a considerable need for the industry. In the same vein, TM is an exceptional programme that has introduce new approaches and engaged both students and teachers in a fantastic way.

Slutligen – Beslut av denna typ hade man helst velat undvika, men just nu är vi tvungna att göra det. LTH måste kunna vidareutvecklas och få en hållbar utbildningsekonomi.

Finally – decisions like these are ones we would rather avoid to make, but it’s our only option for the moment if we are to achieve balance in our finances and continue to develop as a faculty.

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

 

 

29 October 2013

The Swedish Higher Education Authority’s evaluation of our programmes

I described in a previous blog post (21 August) what was happening at LTH this autumn. I mentioned the Swedish Higher Education Authority’s (SHEA) evaluation as being particularly important. I don’t want to claim to be psychic, but my prediction of the results was not far off the mark. I wrote: “Even though we believe that our programmes hold the highest of standards, we will likely receive marks that span the full range from excellent to adequate to poor. When you look at other programmes that have been evaluated so far, the rough split between the three seems to be 25% - 50% - 25%. Regardless of the marks we get, the evaluation will serve as a starting point for change.”

The evaluation of our 21 programmes followed the national trend. Three were given a score of ‘very high quality’, thirteen were scored as ‘high quality’, and five were given a score of ‘inadequate quality’.  We are generally keeping to a high standard, but we are naturally disappointed to have received a score of inadequate quality for a few of our programmes. We will be analysing the results carefully and will try to implement the necessary changes. As I mentioned previously, this will serve as the starting point for change.

The evaluation is based almost entirely on the quality of degree projects (at least 5 per programme). The scores that are given are based on how well we meet the three general qualitative targets for awarding degrees: ‘Knowledge and understanding’, ‘Skills and abilities’, and ‘Judgement and approach’. It is therefore reasonable that the focus is on the quality of the degree projects.

I would like to thank everyone for the work that is being done within the programmes to give our students a high quality education. Our success in this is easily measured by the number of applicants, and the number of degrees we award each year. We are now going to become even better!

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH 

 

 

10 October 2013


What is the third task?

In many instances we talk about the University’s mission as being two-fold: research and education. When Lund University was established in 1666, it’s symbol and motto were also created: “Ad utrumque parate” – “Prepared for both”. LU’s symbol, comprising a book and a sword, can be interpreted as two main tasks. The book represents academic learning manifested through education and research. The sword broadly represents our cooperation with the surrounding community. This happens by way of us making our knowledge available for cooperation and partnerships with private industry, government bodies, the general public, schools etc. This is what we commonly refer to as the ‘third task’.

Our two-fold motto is actually three-fold. Our state funding, however, is still earmarked for two specific purposes – research and education. These two pots finance our educational programmes as well as a small part of our research and PhD education. They also have to provide funds for activities that help us achieve our third task.  It is important to mention that LTH gets nearly half of its total funding from competitive external research grants. The third task covers many different dimensions. Here are a just a few current examples:

Contact with the general public and schools

We have a responsibilitiy to spread our knowledge to the wider public (tax payers) in a way that allows us to be seen as a resource to society. Kulturnatten (Culture Night), which was held a few weeks ago, is a good example of this. Engaged researchers, teachers and students all participated. Kunskapståget (the Knowledge Train) transported both young and old up to the campus area that houses the university’s three largest faculties – Medicine, Science and Engineering. Once here, visitors were treated to laser shows at Fysikum, experiments and demonstrations at Vattenhallen Science Centre, shows at the Planetarium, and a tour of Pompeii in the Virtual Reality Lab at IKDC, and much much more.

Vattenhallen Science Centre has been a meeting place for both schools and businesses since 2009. It receives almost 40,000 visitors annually. With the help of a donation from Färs och Frosta sparbanksstiftelse we hope to be able to expand Vattenhallen’s operations, in order to showcase other parts of the university outside of LTH and the Faculty of Science.

Innovation contact with private industry


Sweden is ahead of the game when it comes to developing new innovations, but is lagging behind in terms of turning these into businesses. There is a comprehensive network of people and companies that are involved in the innovation process. This is another part of the third task that concerns universities, and that is currently largely unfinanced. There has been a certain degree of change recently in that the government has renamed its research proposition as the ‘research and innovation proposition’. Within this there are opportunities to apply for funding in order to strengthen entrepreneurship in Swedish industry, linked to universities and other higher education institutions. This is a challenge for the future. We already have statistics to show that universities and other HEI’s are good innovators (or rather, good inventors). The intention is not to make the universities’ researchers and teachers to business people. The goal has to be to support those who wish to be entrepreneurial and start new business, and to contribute to converting new knowledge into practical applications. It is a part of the third task that must be done in collaboration with others. Perhaps the proposed ‘higher education foundation’ structure might play a role.

The third task – does it exist? The answer is YES, and it is increasingly important to our operations. Maybe it is time to restructure our funding?

Anders Axelsson

Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH
 

 

 

18 September 2013


Why do we need an Assistant Dean for Collaboration and Innovation?

Collaboration between universities and the community has become an increasingly hot topic over recent years. On a European level discussions follow the ‘knowledge triangle’: education, research and innovation. In LTH’s strategic plan we have formulated goals, strategies and priorities for our core operations: research/PhD studies, first- and second cycle education, and last but not least collaboration and innovation. Appointing an Assistant Dean to focus on this ‘third task’ will help us reach our strategic  goals, and make LTH an important collaboration partner on the wider stage.

Read about our new Assistant Dean, Annika Olsson, here.

 

Anders Axelsson

Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

 

 

30 August 2013


And we’re off!

Last week we welcomed around 1,300 new students to LTH and Lund University. Like last year, we have had many more applicants than we can accommodate. The difference this year is that we had more last minute drop-offs, which meant that we were able to offer places to some of the students on the reserves list. We don’t yet have the full picture, but we will eventually end up with the number of students we specified in our action plan earlier this year. We would have liked to increase the number of students, but unfortunately that is not possible within the financial limits that Lund University and the Ministry of Education have imposed on us. We have seen a small increase in the number of female students, which we are delighted about.

The introduction for new students is thoroughly prepared by older students and the student guidance councillors. LTH’s management team hold regular meetings with everyone involved in the introduction. This year our new students have been given a publication entitled “Guide for discrimination, harassment and offensive behaviour for students at LTH” (see the document – currently only available in Swedish.) This document reminds us of the core values for both LTH and the wider university.

We have already welcomed our new students, but we would also like to thank all of you who are involved in making sure the new student introductions and ’zero-ing’ work smoothly and efficiently. This includes not only older students and the student guidance councillors, but also all the teachers and administrative staff at the departments and the Faculty Office.  All of us together contribute to creating a welcoming atmosphere. The new students are our future.

Anders Axelsson
Dean of LTH, Faculty of Engineering

Annika Mårtensson
Deputy Dean of LTH, Faculty of Engineering

 

 

26 August 2013


Welcome, new students at LTH

Hi!

My name is Anders Axelsson, and I am the Dean of LTH – Lund University’s faculty of Engineering. I’d like to welcome you all to LTH, Lund University and Lund itself!

LTH is a part of Lund University

This means that you have the opportunity to take advantage of the entire university’s has to offer. When I travel abroad I am not just a part of LTH, but also Lund University. Everyone knows of Lund University, which is one of the top one hundred universities in the world. 

Lund is an international city of research and education. In the future Lund will be a European research centre as two large research centres are being built here: ESS and Max IV. You can already see Max IV being built just north of the LTH campus. Investments of SEK 15-20 billion will mean a lot to both LTH, Lund University, Lund and Sweden!

Max IV will open in 2016, and ESS will be finished in 2020. We like to say that we are building a new CERN in Lund.

LTH is a large workplace where we work together

I sometimes liken Lund University to a large corporate concern with 7,000 employees and almost 50,000 students. It is like a small city.

LTH is a subsidiary to LU, but in our world we’re called a faculty – one of eight that together form Lund University.

There are 10,000 people working at LTH – 1,500 employees and nearly 9,000 students. And we all work together. We are dependent on one another. Our researchers are proud when the education is going well, and teachers and students are proud when our research is going well.

When a large company welcomes new staff they typically hold trainee courses, team building events and coaching workshops. The organisation of this process is usually handled by the HR department.
Here at LTH we are all, from the students union through to student councillors and teachers, involved in welcoming you – our new students. We are all eager to make sure that you settle in and find your place. It is you who will create the future of LTH. You are important!

Mixed groups lead to success

We are all different. We have varied backgrounds and experiences. As you will often be working in small teams, this will add value to your output. A so-called mixed group is often able to be more creative, as it can view problems from many different angles, and see things in new lights. Protect this diversity – it helps us develop and improves the quality of what we do.

Two birds with one stone: academic and vocational qualifications

You are starting an education which gives you two different dimensions. You will receive both an academic and a vocational education. The academic qualification is a Master’s or Bachelor’s degree, for example a Master of Science in Engineering. Our programmes are also vocational in character. This means that you have two choices when you graduate: you can continue along an academic route with a PhD degree, or you can chose to get a job in the industry. The vocational character of your education will make you highly employable on the job market.

Many new contacts

Teachers and researchers

Universities differ from secondary schools in that we are not only engaged in teaching, but also research. Many of us who work here are both teachers and researchers. Some of us have also worked in private industry, and many of us have studied here at LTH. This means that you can feel fairly secure that your teachers know what they are talking about, that what you are learning is at the forefront of current research and that it will be relevant for your future jobs.

Student guidance councillors and administrators

We have special student guidance councillors at LTH. They are highly professional and heavily invested in your education. They will be there for you in good times and bad. You will already be seeing them a lot as part of your introduction.

Fellow students

During the introduction you will meet older students who will help you find your feet. Björn and Sofia will tell you more about this.

You will also meet your future colleagues and make friends for life.

High demand – great prospects for the future

It isn’t easy to get into a technical programme nowadays. LTH in particular is very popular – we have the highest ratio of applicants per place in the country for some of our programmes.

You will be ”employable”. There will be many places to fill when you are done. Not least due to large amounts of retirees. The industry is in need of more engineers already.

Over the next few years LTH and student life will be at the centre of your world, but don’t forget to do other things as well. Lund, Malmö, Copenhagen and the rest of Europe have so much to offer in terms of amazing possibilities.

Finally, I forgot to say that we always have fun at work! I hope that you will too!

Congratulations on your choice!

Welcome to LTH!

Anders Axelsson
Dean of LTH, Faculty of Engineering

 

 

 

21 August 2013


Welcome back from a wonderful summer break

Many of us are back at work after enjoying a summer that treated us to weather and temperatures we normally have to go abroad to experience. Diaries and email inboxes are slowly beginning to fill up again, but we won’t feel the full force of the autumn term until our students arrive back. Yesterday (20 August) saw the arrival of 2,000 international students in Lund. On Monday (26 August) we will be welcoming the LTH students in Lund, and on Wednesday (28 August) also our students based at Campus Helsingborg. Lund is once again full of life and activity.

What’s happening this autumn?

Education

The Swedish Higher Education Authority (SHEA) will present the findings of their evalutation of our programmes in September. Even though we believe that our programmes hold the highest of standards, we will likely receive marks that span the full range from excellent to adequate to poor. When you look at other programmes that have been evaluated so far, the rough split between the three seems to be 25% - 50% - 25%. Regardless of the marks we get, the evaluation will serve as a starting point for change. We have already begun by reviewing our completed specilisations and potential new Master’s programmes. The marks will be based on how we achieve the three general graduation goals: ‘Knowledge and understanding’, ‘Accomplishment and skill’, as well as ‘Ability to evaluate and approach’.  Programmes that receive the highest possible marks result in some extra funds for the universities. Any low marks will be followed up in a year’s time, after which the SHEA will give their final assessments.

Our action plan, which aims to minimise the gap between the number of students we admit and how many we get funding for, is progressing better than expected, and we are confident about the future.

Research

Several research initiatives are in the process of being established: the mobile research institute MAPCI; a competency centre for public transport research – K2; a competency centre for production and materials engineering – ProMatEn; and a renovation centre apart from the large initiatives at ESS, Max IV and Medicon Village. LTH will be a part of several strategic innovation areas, initiated by Vinnova, amongst others.

The foundation for our research in the future is based on our individual researchers who successfully attract external research funds for their projects. We are proud of our ability to succeed in this each year.

Collaboration and innovation

Collaboration and innovation are becoming more and more important to us. Because of this, we have appointed a new Assistant Dean for Collaboration and Innovation as of July this year: Annika Olsson, Professor of packaging logistics and former TetraPak employee.

To round off on this condensed list of autumn activities, I would like quote the strategic plan. We will be busy doing everything we can to “understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition”. We achieve this through change, renewal and our sights firmly on the future.

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

 

 

 

8 July 2013


Academic integrity


Our ethical dilemma lies mainly in that we cherish the academic integrity within the scientific world. LTH was first out to implement a policy for academic integrity. We strongly maintain that students and researchers have responsibilities as well as rights.

When it comes to the scientific world, it is interesting to note that there is a fundamental honour code which is separate from the legal regulations. My experience is that this system forms the basis for safeguarding academic quality – that what is written must be correct, newsworthy and strongly backed up by empirical data. What drives us is the quest for scientific excellence and that knowledge is developed toward a greater insight into scientific issues. The entire publication process is regulated by this principle of academic integrity – everything from an article being submitted and going through editorial and peer reviews, to revision, final acceptance and publication. The author can follow the entire process. Young researchers in particular tend to follow the process very keenly, as accepted articles are their tickets to enter the world of research, as well as confirmations that they are on the right track.

LTH retract admission decision

Last year (25/06/2012) LTH retracted a decision regarding admission of a PhD student who had made false claims in his application. There were a total of 128 applications from all over the world for this PhD position. We concluded the following:

1. The information in the application regarding the so-called ‘submitted’ articles was false.

2. The student had never received any confirmation from the publications that the articles really were ‘submitted’ for review. The student was therefore aware that they were not being scientifically reviewed. In spite of this, the student included these articles in his application, with the intention of increasing his chances relative to the other applicants.

3. The specified qualifications were definitive in the outcome of the selection process.

Lund University reverse LTH’s decision regarding admission

Lund University recently (20/06/2013) reversed LTH’s decision. This was very unfortunate, as LTH has a solid basis for why the decision was made in the first place, for example in the form of correspondence with the publications’ editors. LTH’s opinion is firmly embedded within its management team, and even among several members of Lund University’s management team. In spite of this, the Vice-Chancellor for Lund University chose to follow the advice of the university’s lawyers. They claim that the term ‘submitted’ does not hold any legal meaning, and that it lacks an official definition. We have tried to explain how the scientific community works, without much success.

Consequences of the decision

The immediate consequence of this official decision, taken at government authority level, is that the term ‘submitted’ is no longer valid at Lund University, meaning that any publications marked as ‘submitted’ can no longer be counted as merits. It is as yet difficult to say if this will affect the admission and recruitment processes going forward. We do not have the resources to review all original documents. We have to rely on academic integrity.

LTH respects government authorities and the decisions they make, but will never accept academic dishonesty. Scientific integrity should be equally respected by the law.


Anders Axelsson

Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

 

 

 

27 June 2013


The summer of 2013 is here


As usual I am trying to clear my desk before the summer holidays, forgetting that in doing so, I am sending things on to others who are already off enjoying the sunshine. While all of this is going on, the last week before the holidays usually provides some time for reflection.

Reflections

It has been a turbulent time for our local private industry. AstraZeneca were the first to leave, followed by SonyEricsson becoming SonyMobile and reducing in size. STEricsson are now also reducing their operations in Lund. Some analysts see this as being part of the normal ups and downs of the private sector. Here at LTH is has a substantial impact – both in terms of current collaborations and future employment opportunities for our students. However, Medicon Village and the mobile institute MAPCI help us maintain our hopes for the future.

The first six months of the year have brought changes to LTH’s leadership team, in the form of a new Head of the Faculty Office, a new Head of Finance, and a new Assistant Dean. There has been much discussion around our values.

Our educational programmes are running well and are highly popular among new applicants. We have excellent graduation rates, good examinations, and students who are sought after on the job market. We are starting to see a positive new trend among young students’ attitudes towards science and engineering; both subjects are now seen as more interesting than in previous years, and the engineering profession is currently very popular among Swedish students. However, these statistics still show a considerable difference between male and female students, highlighting the fact that we still have challenges to overcome. Region Skåne and the local technology firms have been very helpful in supporting our arguments to the Ministry of Education that we need to educate more engineers. This year we will be receiving an additional SEK 9m toward more student places.

Time for holidays

Being on holiday means never being short on time. It is the time when we may even reclaim the control over our time. I am now starting to long for days spent hunting bees and mice at the summer cottage. Usually it all starts with many hours of clearing the garden – the lawnmower replacing my iPhone, iPad and emails. During that time I am not available – I am on holiday.
Wishing everyone a wonderful summer!

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

 

 

 

20 June 2013


”Fight to the tiles” – thanks to our TLTH-representatives


TLTH (our faculty’s students’ union) elect new leaders every six months. During the past year, those of us in the LTH management team have gotten to know TLTH’s management team quite well – after all, we see each other every Monday at our ‘Presidium’ meeting. We would like to thank the exiting union management for their cooperation, and look forward to working just as well with their successors. This blog post is dedicated to our students.

Tommy Söderberg – one of the coaches to the Swedish football team at the start of the 2000’s – coined the phrase ”fight to the tiles”. That is exactly what you have done, especially during the last few weeks of media attention following an article about bullying among our students.

We are impressed by your way of working. You seem to work very effectively as a team. You are well-informed and we are always impressed by how quickly you manage to grasp the complexities of new issues. The handover between the exciting and new management teams appears to be a smooth and well-established process.

Our cooperation feels very natural. We share the responsibilities in the Presidium, and have the same demands on participation, openness, clarity and visibility. The only discussions that you do not have to bother with are HR issues and finance issues that do not concern our educational programmes. It feels secure knowing that you are always there when we make decisions. Not as hostages, but as participants in the decision making process.

We will miss you all – especially Rasmus, Malin and Omar, who are the ones we have seen most often in the Presidium meetings. Björn (Chairperson) and Erik (Vice Chairperson) will pick up where you left off.

Thank you for all of your input and hard work. Have a lovely summer!

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

 

 

 

19 June 2013


Trust and Hope

During four days over the previous weekend, LTH hosted this years’ NORDTEK conference (www.lth.se/nordtek). This means that we were visited by 23 other higher schools and universities within the field of engineering. NORDTEK is a very old and well-established network, within which we can share experiences through benchmarking as well as face-to-face meetings. This time we had also invited engineering institutions from our Baltic neighbours through the BALTECH network. The event consisted of student meetings, contact person meetings, Dean’s meeting, an excursion to Österlen with apple cider making, as well as a conference with the theme of “Universities and Large Scale Research Facilities”.

The conference was a great success both in terms of content and organisation. A big thank you goes to Christina Grossmann and her colleagues at the International Office, who organised all the practical elements. Many of our guests were impressed with the ‘Swedish talent’ for organising the logistics in a such a clever way.

I am very happy with all the speakers we had managed to enlist from CERN, the Paul Scheerer Institute, E.ON Research Institute, as well as all of those from the Nordic region. The inspiration behind the theme was of course ESS and Max IV. We managed to squeeze in a visit to the construction site, which impressed our visitors.

It is naturally difficult to summarise all of the interesting lectures within the confines of a blog post, but there are a few highlights I would like to share with you:

The former Director of ESS, Colin Carlile, was asked the question ’Will Lund become a new CERN?’. He answered: “No! CERN was built 50 years ago with a completely different purpose in mind. ESS and Max IV have the potential to become a meeting place for an even wider research community”.

CERN was used as an example of research institutes generating added value on top of their original assignments. Some say that PhD has a new meaning at CERN these days: ‘Post Higgs Depression”. That shouldn’t be too big of an issue. On the road to the Higgs particle scientists accidentally created the World Wide Web.

TRUST

Someone said: ”Nordic countries have a trustful behaviour”. The Nordic countries are very trusting of one another. There is also great of confidence in the Nordics from a European perspective. This is an important prerequisite for our work with ESS and Max IV, and creates enormous potential for the future.

HOPE

”Large infrastructure creates hope.” Both ESS and Max IV create hopes of development within the region. They can attract good researchers and students. They create exciting opportunities and challenges, and thus provide hope for the future.

For more information about the conference (in Swedish), visit:

www.lum.lu.se/om-forskningsinfrastruktur-panordiskttoppmote/
www.lth.se/nyheter-och-press/nyheter/visa-nyhet/article/forskningsinfrastruktur-i-fokus-paa-nordiskt-toppm/

Finally I would like to add that I am particularly pleased about something that was expressed by many of our visitors: that the conference was permeated with a welcoming atmosphere. ESS and Max IV are not just relevant for Lund University. This will be a meeting place for people from all over Europe.

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

 

 

 

18 June 2013

Our values matter

In an article published yesterday it was revealed that a small group of male students has been harassing other students. We have been aware over the past academic year that there is a group of male students who have caused some trouble. They have not solely targeted women, but rather students in general, for example by means of taunts, jeers, and in some instances by excluding other students from parties and other activities. Those responsible for equality and diversity at LTH have been dealing with the issue, and the Department and Programme Heads have held a meeting with the students in question. The meeting helped the students understand what they had done, and the group has since more or less dissolved. The incident will be followed up again at the start of the autumn term. If the problem continues, the issue will most likely be brought before the disciplinary council.

We are somewhat surprised by the fact that these events, which took place a while ago, are making headlines now. In general we believe that LTH and LTH students can stand up to a great deal of scrutiny. In this instance we would like to point to the students’ ambitious aims for the introduction of new students, which is already being prepared for the autumn term. All of our Study Guidance Councillors and Programme Heads are deeply involved with our student sponsors and the students’ union, TLTH. Approximately 600 student sponsors are being trained in order to welcome the new students, including courses in coaching, team building and equality issues.

We believe that the general feeling among our 8,800 students is positive, in spite of this small group of troublemakers. The focus on our values will increase further because of this. We can never allow harassment of either students or staff.

For most of us, our time at LTH has left us with overwhelmingly positive memories, and lifelong friendships. It was clear that this was the case when we held an alumni party as part of our 50th anniversary celebrations a couple of years ago. 1,600 alumni came to the event in order to revive old memories and to party the night away in Viktoriahallen. It was amazing! This is the positive experience we want all of our students to have while they are here at LTH.
 

Anders Axelsson

Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

Annika Mårtensson
Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

 

 

 

11 June 2013


Board meeting and LTH’s renewed management team

There is always a lot to do at the end of the semester. Projects need to be reported on. Formal decisions must be taken in order to be put into effect during the autumn. And let’s not even mention the amount of work our students have to complete in terms of exams and project reports. To top it all off we celebrate our graduation day, and the conferral of doctoral degrees and honorary doctors.

Board meeting

I usually liken our Board meeting to a graduation ceremony. It is when our work is examined and approved by the Board. At our May Board meeting we could see that the financial report follows the plan, and that the forecast for the year looks very good. At the December 2012 meeting we decided on an action plan where we aimed high in order to accept a deficit in the education budget during a two-year period. There were many reasons why this is necessary, for instance the extension of the Swedish Master of Science (civilingenjör) programmes (see blog post from Nov 2012). The forecast for the year is that we will most likely end up with a balanced education budget as opposed to a deficit. Having temporarily put a stop to short programmes, and with an expected additional budget of SEK 9m from the government, our admission rates will be able to remain the same for our longer programmes. We know that our departments and teachers are working hard to make the sums add up.

The Board also decided to create a new department for the area of biotechnology (Biomedical Engineering = BME) at LTH. There are well over 100 BME departments in the USA. Medical technology is also a flagship area for LTH, and this initiative will help to generate momentum and visibility for us. The final decision will be made in October once the union representatives have had a chance to review the changes.

The final agenda point was to discuss how we go about recruiting new staff members, and how this affects the overall staff mix. There was a particular focus on internationalisation and equality perspectives. The Board will continue to follow developments in this area.

My full report to the Board (in Swedish) can be found here.

Changes to the faculty’s management team

Spring saw the arrival of Fredrik Palmqvist – our new Head of the Faculty of Office. Susanne Håkansson has taken on the role of Head of Finance. We feel both secure and happy with these changes. We feel particularly secure knowing that our former Faculty Head, PG Nilsson, is still hanging around ready to help when necessary.

Summer will bring its fair share of changes as well. Assistant Dean Ulla Host is set to retire, which has resulted in a certain amount of redistribution of responsibilities within the management team. Annika Olsson will step in as a new Vice Dean responsible for collaboration and innovation. Deputy Dean Annika Mårtensson will be responsible for our third-cycle education – a logical decision, as Annika represents LTH in the LU central committees for both 1st/2nd and 3rd cycle education. Our research and education Deans for third-cycle education will have an increased responsibility for research infrastructure and third-cycle education. The responsibility for our research lies with myself and Annika, together with the research Deans, and supported by our research committees.

We will miss those who are leaving us, but it is always good to shift responsibilities around in order to find new ways of solving old issues. Thanks Ulla, and welcome Annika!


Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

28 May 2013


LTH students – you are amazing!

The spring semester is officially over – only exams and exhibitions still to complete. Once they are all done, summer and new experiences are just around the corner.

I have said a number of times that you are ’too good’, since you are passing more exams in a shorter amount of time, and will likely graduate faster than ever before. This phenomenon has helped to create our ‘over-production’ of graduates – meaning that we are producing too many higher education credits in relation to how many we get paid for. This is, of course, a nice problem to have. It is not your fault that the Ministry of Education and budget holders do not understand the practicalities of how education works in the real world.

It is not just your studies that you are handling with ease. You also have plenty of energy left over for other things as well. The type of activities that don’t lead to education credits, but that give you new insights and perspectives on life. Here are a few examples:

  • Last Saturday I attended the opening of an exhibition of summer cottages in Landskrona. The exhibition consists of models of cottages made by architect students, as a part of a project course within the architecture programme. In conjunction with Landskrona’s 600-year anniversary, funding has been secured in order to build life-size models of ten of these wonderful creations. They will be on display at the Citadell in Landskrona throughout the summer months. Well worth a visit!
  • Mohammad Tahai has, together with four fellow students, started an outreach programme called ‘Create your future’ (‘Skapa din framtid’ in Swedish). They have visited eighth graders in Malmö’s school district to share their experiences of university studies. They have with great enthusiasm shown that it is possible for everyone to create a future at a technical university. Watch the film from one of the visits this spring.
  • Many of our students take SI courses (Supplemental Instruction), where they learn coaching and mentoring skills. After the course they are able to mentor new students and help them pass the initial ‘difficult’ courses. This can make a big difference in helping to ease the transition from school studies to university studies. You can read more about the mentoring programme on their website (in Swedish) http://www.si-mentor.lth.se/english/
  • Approximately 80 students take turns to work as instructors at Vattenhallen Science Centre during school visits. They act as excellent role models, and can also tell school children about what it’s like to study at a university.
  • Another great project that is run by computer sciences students is ’The Pink March’, in aid of the Breast Cancer Fund (Bröstcancerfonden). The fact that both the computer science students’ union and the Breast Cancer Fund are associated with the colour pink is a coincidence that now appears deliberate. The five kilometre march will take place here in Lund on 5 October of this year. All registration fees will be donated to the Breast Cancer Fund. A fantastic initiative! I’ll be starting my training programme immediately!

By getting involved in projects and activities outside of your daily studies, you will grow as individuals. You will also contribute to what we call ‘the third mission’, which refers to cooperation with wider society. I am impressed and proud of your achievements in this arena.

Here’s hoping your exams go equally well! Have a wonderful summer!

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

Ps. Today and next week you can visit the exhibitions held by the students from the architecture and industrial design programmes, in School of Architecture’s exhibition hall.

 

 

 

6 May 2013


Finally – spring has arrived!

In a supplementary budget, Lund University is receiving 9.5m SEK earmarked for engineering and nursing programmes. With this addition for this year and the next, we will be able to balance our over production within our programmes better. Having said that, we will still not reach the level of the country’s larger cities. Our region is simply too far from Stockholm.

We are preparing for the upcoming board meeting, where we will continue the discussions around action plans, values and our strategic positions.

In June we will be hosting this year’s NORDTEK conference. We have chosen the theme “Universities and large research centres”. ESS and MaxIV will be in the spotlight, but there will also be many representatives from other similar centres around Europe. We will have guests from all the technical institutions in the Nordics – 23 in total. Representatives from technical institutions in the Baltic states will also be in attendance. We will, for example, discuss how we will cooperate in order to make the best use out of ESS and MaxIV, both in terms of education and research.

The symbol of spring in Lund is the last of april – or Walpurgis Eve. This day is something extra special here in Lund. The magnolia trees are almost in bloom, there is a general air of excitement in town, and last but not least, theatre and shows (or ‘spex’). It’s particularly exciting to see the Uarda-spex, and this year they took the production to a whole new level. When the ensemble used the Queen classic song ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ as the base for one of the numbers, it was as though Freddy Mercury himself had stepped out of one of the sarcophagi on stage. The audience tried to encourage an encore, but I realise that it can be problematic to repeat a nine minute long concert number. We will have to rely on our memories instead. Such musicians! Such singers! Such creativity!


These spring events help to recharge our batteries, and we look to the future with renewed confidence!


Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

 

 

8 May 2013


Welcome to this year’s graduation ceremony – 8 May 2013

There is an air of tradition as we gather here in the university auditorium. Although LTH is only 50 years old, the university as a whole is nearing the ripe old age of 350. Our role in society has always been that of knowledge bearers, knowledge developers, and knowledge conveyor. It is sometimes surprising that so much has remained the same. We still attend lectures, we take our exams in examination rooms, and mostly exams are still paper-based. You need a sharpened pencil – just as the students from one hundred years ago.

Nevertheless – there is plenty of change afoot in the university world. Someone once tried to describe current times in one word, and they chose ‘FASTER’. The new students who will be joining us this autumn are different to our current graduates. They have different experiences, different networks, different values and different interests. They listen to different music and read different books – or rather, they listen to different books.

They already have new educational options, such as MOOC’s – Massive Open Online Courses. The larger universities like Stanford, Harvard, MIT, and many others, have started to offer free online courses. I believe we will soon see course packages that lead to an accepted academic degree – without students ever setting foot in a university building.

These changes are coming on fast. One online platform went from one million registered students in August 2012, to 2.3 million students in January of this year. 70,000 new students every week – that’s what I call successful recruitment!

Online studies currently account for around ten per cent of Sweden’s higher education. The problem with online courses is that it is far too easy to hit the pause button to grab a sandwich. When you get back to the computer you read your emails, and then get distracted by something else on the net. Someone showed that the first part of an online course has ten times as many views as the last part. There is also a certain foolish belief that the knowledge that is floating around in the digital world will automatically seep into our brains as long as we are in front of the computer screen.

But we can’t escape from the fact that it is a new way of imparting knowledge. It is simple and flexible, you can move in and out of different sites, and the teaching quality can in some cases completely eclipse what we can accomplish in a traditional lecture theatre. You can always find the latest information on the internet – and that is important! The knowledge and skills you have gained might be outdated before you have even had a chance to start paying off your student loans. This places increasing demands on us as a university. An ever-changing job market further increases these demands:

  • We must provide general skills and competencies that will not be dated by the time you graduate
  • We must be prepared to re-educate ourselves or continuously develop our skills (Lifelong Learning) 
  • We can utilise online courses for our own learning
  • We can learn from others. We talk about ‘Open Innovation’, but ‘Open Learning’ is equally important. The Silicon Valley icon Bill Joy once said: “There are always more smart people outside your company than within it”. The internet opens up the whole world to us!

There is, however, an important difference. You will not experience a graduation ceremony such as this over the internet. We are very proud of what you have accomplished. Us teachers are very grateful that we have been able to get to know you – in real life, not just on the internet! Together we make LTH the top technical institute in Sweden.

Congratulations graduates! We wish you the best of luck in your future careers, and welcome you to the graduation ceremony.

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

 

 

 

12 April 2013


LTH and Lund University - excellence and breadth


Our strategic plan states that excellence is a product of breadth. In English I normally say that we are a comprehensive faculty within a comprehensive university. The latest national university ranking ‘Urank’ supports both of these statements.


One can question the validity of ranking systems in general, as they vary greatly in terms of which parameters are used, and how the parameters themselves are ranked for importance. However, Urank generates a significant amount of attention, and those of us at the top are proud to be there.


Urank has a tendency to reward single-faculty institutions, whereas the international league tables often rank comprehensive universities higher – particularly if they are home to one or two Nobel Laureates. Lund University generally features among the top 100 in the international tables.


In Urank’s overall ranking the single-faculty institutions top the list, and Lund University is, as usual, ranked as number seven out of twenty-nine institutions in Sweden. As of a few years ago, they also rank certain subject areas and programmes. LTH is ranked as number two within technology and natural sciences. (LTH, KTH and CTH usually make up the top three in various constellations.) It is noteworthy that Lund University is placed at the number one spot within medicine. LU also features as number two within law, humanities and healthcare. Economics is also ranked highly.


The conclusion we can draw from this is that we possess great breadth, and come out on top within many areas. I believe that this is definitely worth nurturing. If we collaborate between departments and faculties we can go even further. At the same time we must nurture each individual component. I have said it before and I will say it again. Unity is our strength. Diversity is our wealth.


Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

 

 

11 April 2013


Our core values


Since the start of this year we have been discussing our core values. What do we mean by that?
Our strategic plan describes our core values in the following way:

  • IN ACCORDANCE WITH LUND UNIVERSITY’S core values, we defend human dignity and freedom, all people’s equal worth, and human rights.
  • DIVERSITY, GENDER EQUALITY AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES AMONG staff and students help to ensure job satisfaction and high quality in the faculty’s activities.
  • OUR ORGANISATION is characterised by continual development to create a good working environment where all staff and stu¬dents have the best opportunities to develop.
  • ALL MEETINGS BETWEEN staff and students, and all contact with the world around us, shall be characterised by respect and integrity.
  • OUR OPERATIONS SHALL BE CHARACTERISED by openness, in¬ternational cooperation and a critical approach that contributes to the democratic and sustainable development of society.

A few weeks ago we held a two-day meeting with our Department Heads and our Board. We gave them the following qpoints to discuss in relation to how our core values are formulated in our annual plan.

Discussion points:

  1. How do our values affect our four main tasks? (Research, third-cycle education, , first- and second-cycle education, and engagement with the business and society)
  2. How do our values affect our choice of international collaborations?
    Can we, or should we, collaborate with all countries?
  3. How do our values affect the induction process for new students and staff?

The events of the past week relating to offensive songs have lead us to discuss the third point in even greater detail.

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

 

 

11 April 2013


Song books should contain songs that EVERYONE enjoys singing along to!


Diversity and equality among staff and students contributes to a pleasant working environment and high quality work throughout the workplace. These principles act as beacons for us, and are included in our strategic plan. We have therefore spent many years working on these issues together with our staff and other parties. We have worked with the Student Union to put together guidelines for the induction process for new students at LTH, in which issues around diversity and equality feature heavily. We are continuously working to highlight these issues to our students. Last autumn, for example, we organised a seminar for students around values and attitudes. To strengthen our work in this area, we have created an action plan for equality and diversity. We are also working with questions around values, both here at LTH and centrally and Lund University.


We therefore take a strong position against the mysogynistic student songs that have recently been found in song books, and are now making the rounds in the media.

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH
anders.axelsson@rektor.lth.se

Annika Mårtensson
Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH
annika.martensson@rektor.lth.se

5 April 2013


Head of the Faculty Office – a key position at LTH

As of this week we have a new Head of the Faculty Office at LTH – Fredrik Palmqvist. Fredrik is an LTH alumnus, and comes to us directly from SonyMobile. Most of us will have an opportunity to meet him during his induction programme. I am convinced that these meetings will be enjoyable! Welcome Fredrik!

One must accept that time only goes in one direction, and that there is such a thing as ’retirement age’. I find myself resisting it, but it is a vain attempt. PG, our previous Head of the Faculty Office, has however decided to retire.

Not many of us know 'Per Göran Nilsson', but everyone knows PG. He has almost become synonymous with LTH. He has gotten through a number of Deans, and I have had the privilege of working with him for many years. It has been educational, difficult at times, and challenging, but also a lot of fun. PG spreads joy and happiness wherever he goes, and is never short of an anecdote or two. He has been a rock in tricky situations, and while we haven’t always shared the same opinion, we have become more and more likeminded as the years have gone by. I can’t say if that is because of PG or me, but PG knows how us Deans think. Eventually we become more reasonable and do what the Faculty Office Head wants us to. Or is it the other way around?

One of PG’s hallmarks is that he never strives for personal gains, but always focuses on the results. He has worked tirelessly for LTH, for the departments, for the faculty office, and for us.

Luckily enough, we are not losing him entirely just yet. He will be supporting his successor with advice as and when he needs it. He will also act as an advisor to the Vice-Chancellor. So the good life is still a while away. Perhaps he will have just a bit more time for other interests.

We are holding an informal leaving-ceremony for PG on Friday 5 April, and there are many of us who want to thank him for his hard work, support and dedication!

Thank you PG!

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

 

 

25 March 2013


Report from Board meeting on 22 March

Last week the Board held a two-day meeting. We hold a longer meeting at some point each year in order to have time to discuss strategy, and to follow up on our strategic plan. At the meeting last week we saw a presentation of the Campus Plan for Lund University, as well as a market and media analysis. We discussed our values, and what they mean for our position on, for example, internationalisation. We also held initial discussions about how we should relate to the new Master’s programmes that could be introduced in a few years’ time.

An important agenda item at the Board meeting was following up on the action plan that was decided on when the Board met on 14 December last year, with regards to our ‘over-production’ – or put differently, our underfinanced education. We must cut our coat according to our cloth, and education costs must be reduced. This has all been touched upon in previous blog posts and Board meetings.

The following is a summary of completed and planned measures:

- Letter to the Ministry of Education and Research
Pia Kinhult, First Governor at Region Skåne, has, together with local technology companies, sent a letter to the Ministry of Education and Research, highlighting the fact that the region is divided in a comparative way to the other big city regions. The letter has been mentioned in an interpellation debate in the parliament, with Jan Björklund as the respondent. LU’s Vice-Chancellor and the Dean of LTH will follow up the letter with a visit to the Ministry.

- Food Technology education
The decision, taken by the Dean with support from SLTH, to close admissions to the two-year Food Technology educational programme for the autumn term 2013, has been met with criticism from the media as well as industry organisations. Our goal is to try to use this engagement for the programme to influence relevant parties. LTH invited those with complaints to a meeting on 7 March, which was highly constructive, and generated a promise from the food industry to help us in our attempts to influence the political arena.
Several other solutions were also discussed, for example utilising polytechnics as an alternative.

- Technical foundation year programme
The decision to close the technical foundation year programme for the autumn term has also generated plenty of criticism. We have held discussions with the local councils in Helsingborg and Hässleholm regarding their ability to support students who wish to be admitted to Engineering programmes – possibly with the help of courses at Komvux. We are also speaking with other educational institutes such as Malmö högskola and KTH.

- Reduction in the number of courses within the educational programmes
All of our Educational Programme Boards are reviewing their course portfolios in order to reduce the scope of the programmes. We can no longer afford to maintain the same number of small courses that have been available in the past.

- Reduction in the number of independent courses
This was done during 2012, and will affect the number of independent courses on offer during 2013.

-Cooperation with Region Skåne
We have initiated cooperation with Region Skåne in order for us to help each other with supporting documents and materials used for forecasts and education plans.

- Vattenhallen Science Centre as a part of LUKOM (Lund University’s culture and museum division)
We are in discussions with the Lund University management team to assume principal responsibility for Vattenhallen Science Centre. If this comes to pass, then Vattenhallen will become a part of the university’s external operations portolio, along with the Botanical Gardens, the Historical Museum and the Museum of Sketches. The issue has been received positively by the Vice-Chancellor and his advisors.

We will try to keep you informed of what is happening both internally and externally in order to mitigate damages, while maintaining and developing the excellent quality of our education.

To this I would like to add my wishes that you have a very happy Easter.

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

 

 

19 February 2013


Marketing is a tricky business

Marketing has become a natural part of our everyday lives – an understandable phenomenon in a society based on the principles of supply and demand. What makes it difficult is when government bodies or state-run organisations adopt the rules of the free market; the vast majority of operations within such organisations are, after all, funded through tax-payers money. This is why we really need to ask ourselves: how should we market ourselves?

A while ago, Akademiska Hus released a press statement where they presented ‘their’ initiative within advanced combustion engine research – not without a few raised eyebrows from our end. In reality, the initiative is being funded by LTH/Lund University, in the shape of one-off payments, and/or increases in our rent. The investment was discussed at a strategic level for a very long time, considering that such a sizable investment leaves fewer resources for other initiatives. Akademiska Hus is a landlord that renovates its properties, and occasionally extends them by request of their tenants (LTH/Lund University). We are in this together. PEAB (another large, but privately owned property company) have not yet announced their initiative within synchrotron radiation research while building Max IV. Meanwhile, PEAB are under far more pressure from market forces than Akademiska Hus, which has its steady stream of customers in the form of government bodies.

When LTH markets itself, the focus is on generating visibility and accessibility within wider society. We are a resource for knowledge. This is expressed in our strategic plan as working to “understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition”. To secure recruitment of students, we have focused heavily on information around science and technology. Vattenhallen Science Centre is one example of this. We have been very successful in our efforts, as shown by the fact that we have the highest number of applicants per place of all the technical and engineering institutions in the country. To attract research funding, we try to promote our successful research, as well as to influence the decision makers with relevant information. This is our most difficult task, as decisions are often made in Stockholm.

The distance must not lead to desperation. This is something we can detect when we see that Sweden’s most northerly technical university college is currently advertising for students at bus shelters and the like, here in Lund. It is a paradox that we here at LTH have the highest number of applicants per place in the country, and yet we are forced to turn very talented students away. At the same time, our students are performing much better than we had expected, which has led to an underfinanced education. We therefore have to reduce admissions. The majority of Master of Science in Engineering degrees are awarded by four institutions: KTH (29 %), LTH (18 %), Chalmers (18 %) and Linköping (14 %). The remaining 20% is spread among other institutions. Our northern colleague represents 6%.

Each institution decides how to spend their marketing budget, whether that is advertising campaigns or Science Centres such as our own. No matter what we choose to do, we should be able to look the tax-payers in the eye and say that we are using our resources sensibly, and in the best interest of the wider public.

At LTH we are proud of our presence in the media, our reputation, and how we rate in opinion polls and surveys. We share the Stockholm-centric issues with our northern colleague. The competition is tough. Here in Lund it is actually closer to go to Milan than to the university college in northern-most Sweden. Mediterranean or ice cube?

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH

 

7 January 2013


Best wishes for 2013!

Welcome back after a well-deserved holiday. As Christmas Eve fell on a Monday we enjoyed an extra-long holiday period, and it’s set to be even longer this coming December. But before then we’ll have time to do and experience a great deal.

What happened in 2012?

Stefan Löfven replaced Håkan Juholt as the leader of the Social Democrats, princess Estelle was born, Putin and Obama were both re-elected. FOI and the Saudi affair, Loreen, the tragedy in Syria, the Olympics and the European Football Championships, Zlatan, environmental conference in Qatar, the Higgs particle. The economy in Greece and other countries, Mo Yan, headphones as the Christmas present of the year. That was 2012 in a few short lines.

What’s to come in 2013?

During the coming year we will be battling with our education finances. We will be active in many areas – both at home and away. We already have many active supporters, for example Region Skåne and local private industry. Research has been successful and we have reason to be confident about future projects. A new competency centre for public transport research is being established in Lund. Medicon Village will be of great importance to us. A number of different research institutes are in the pipeline. A mobile communications institute is being discussed with Sony Mobile, among others. A Drug Delivery institute in collaboration with the large universities in Copenhagen has been considered for nearly two years, and a final proposal will be presented before the summer. Our collaboration with SP can create new and interesting opportunities for a joint research institute. All of these initiatives rely on our wide range of leading edge competencies.

It was a real relief when the constant flow of emails abated during the holidays. We are now starting to catch up, and soon our inboxes will be overflowing once again. I would therefore like to encourage you to follow our email policy, which you will find below. These 14 recommendations can make life a little easier for all of us.

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH


Faculty of Engineering Email Policy

Emails are a fantastic way of communicating, but they can become a nuisance and prevent important work from being done. We can create a better email culture by using good judgment and etiquette. The “golden rule” applies – i.e. treating others the way you yourself would like to be treated. The same principles apply to emails as to face-to-face meetings and phone calls. 

Recommendations for the structure and content of emails

  • Greeting
    A letter or a phone call always begins with ‘hello’ or ‘good morning/afternoon’, and ends with ‘good bye’ or ‘regards’. Emails should be no different.
  • Do not write more than you need to!
    An email should not take a long time to read. Keep the message concise while still including all the information relevant to the recipient. If a more thorough explanation is needed, consider scheduling a meeting or phone call.
  • One email – One message!
    Do you have multiple items you need to discuss? Send more than one email.
  • Avoid arguments and disputes in emails
    Emails can often be misunderstood and the message easily misinterpreted. Written disputes should be handled by legal professionals, as they require particular care in their formulation.
  • Summarise long messages
    If you have a lot of information to relay, consider writing a summary in the email and attaching a more detailed document as an appendix. Give the document a short, relevant and searchable name that makes it unique – preferably without using Swedish or other special characters. Pdf format is recommended for attachements.

Recommendations for the administration of emails

  • Always write a clear and informative subject heading
  • Avoid using the CC function unless absolutely necessary
    Clearly state who the recipients are, including any CC recipients
  • Always include an email signature with your address and phone number. That way the recipients can easily contact you with potential questions
  • Use spellcheck!
  • Only request delivery receipts when absolutely necessary
  • Do not send emails that contain a long forwarded email history
  • Always double check your email before clicking the ‘send’ button
    Think twice about sending out mass emails
  • Be careful with your incoming email addresses – some people may not want their address to be distributed
  • Do not mix private and business email addresses!
    Try to keep your private emails separate from your work. The university a government body and emails are considered public records.

 

 

17 December 2012


The run-up to Christmas

Christmas is now just around the corner. We have celebrated Lucia, and maybe even had a sneaky taste of the Christmas buffet. We are always particularly busy as the school term comes to a close, and every year feels busier than the last. This year I am inclined to agree.

Our Programme Managers are finishing up their self-assessments for the extensive evaluation carried out by the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education (HSV). Our teachers are busy constructing and marking exams, and researchers are preparing to write funding applications over the holidays.

The financial year concluded with a board meeting at which some important decisions were made: An allocation decision and a budget that will form the basis of our work during the new year. Unfortunately there are some financing issues around our educational programmes. I have written about these issues in a previous blog post – A thankless task. The board therefore decided to unanimously approve an action plan that will be put in place as soon as possible. We also decided on three honorary doctorates to be awarded, the names of which will be published as soon as all three nominees have been notified.

The Science Centre hosted a particularly well-attended Lucia celebration with some beautiful singing from our wonderful LTH choir. This took place only a few hours after the new ESS and Max IV exhibit was launched.

The holidays are not quite here yet, but are approaching rapidly.

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH



10 December 2012


Board meeting – graduation ceremony


The final board meeting of 2012 will take place on 14 December. The supporting information for this meeting has been particularly well prepared as we will be finalising our budget for next year. Many staff members have been involved in these preparations, both on a faculty and departmental level. Board members may feel overwhelmed at the thought of ploughing through every piece of information that has been produced, but their task is not to go through it all with a fine tooth comb, but rather to take a more holistic view of the material. The board focuses on the strategic issues that are relevant to creating a financial balance, in light of our currently under-financed educational programmes. I have already discussed the reasons for this under-financing in a previous blog entry (‘A thankless task’). We are proposing an action plan that will help us prioritise our work within different areas: education quantity and volume, range of courses, common and shared costs, and special projects. In addition, we are working towards influencing revenues with the help of (among others) local private industry and Region Skåne – an initiative that we hope will have an impact on the Ministry of Education and Research.

The board will also be presented with an annual report on LTH’s third-cycle education, which contains many interesting key figures that will help us develop our doctoral programmes, in accordance with our strategic plan.

The December meeting is also when we make decisions regarding the awarding of honorary doctorates. Nominations have been submitted by researchers and teachers at our institutions, and reviewed by the Research Boards. The final decisions are taken at the Board meeting, and will be made public as soon as each of the recipients has been notified.

As at every board meeting, I will also present the report from the Dean. The purpose of this report is to inform the board of important issues and events, and to provide an update on the progress of internal projects. In addition to this the report also contains information that can form the basis for important strategic decisions. Read the full Dean’s Report here (in Swedish).

Finally, the board will discuss LTH’s level of brand awareness and recognition among our target groups, led by Head of Communications and Marketing – Lisbeth Wester.

This board meeting can be viewed as the conclusion of an extensive and long-running project. Many ideas have been had, many sums have been calculated and many spreadsheets have been created and rejected. In this sense the meeting takes on the air of a graduation ceremony. With the decisions made, we can move forward into the new year.

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH



22 November 2012


A thankless task

I normally end many of my speaking engagements with the words ”LTH is doing well”. Unfortunately, we are doing far too well, which is causing us some problems at the moment. Lately we have tried to explain this paradox to everyone around us – the University management, the region’s Members of Parliament, the Trade & Industy Advisory Board, private businesses, Region Skåne, etc, etc – with varied amounts of success.

The paradox can be summed up in the following way: There is a great demand for engineers in the region. LTH has the highest number of applicants per available place of all the technical and engineering institutions in Sweden. And yet we are being forced to reduce the number of new students we admit to our programmes.

How can this be?
The technical and engineering institutions in Sweden have produced more engineers than the ceiling amount – determined by the Ministry of Education and Research – allows. This means that the programmes have become underfinanced, which has in turn generated a slew of problematic consequences for all of the institutes – not least our own.

What is the cause of this under-financing?
In general this cannot be attributed to bad planning or a poor understanding of the underlying financial realities. Rather, the situation has been caused by a number of different factors that have all conspired in the same direction:

  • In 2007 the Master of Science in Engineering degree was lengthened from 4.5 to 5 years, without financial compensation from the government.
  • The radical increase in the number of students wishing to study engineering has in turn greatly increased the number of applicants per available place. LTH currently has the highest number of qualified applicants per place out of all the technical and engineering institutes in the country (2 first choice applicants per place).
  • In conjunction with the introduction of a new system of qualifications in 2007, LTH reinforced its mathematics education and restructured the curriculum in order to strengthen the education’s pedagogic structure, which has led to a decrease in drop-out rates among students.
  • Older students have chosen to move onto the new 5 year curriculum, thereby increasing their study period by six months.
  • The increase in the number of applicants per place has meant that the admission requirements have risen significantly, which in turn leads to fewer drop-outs and more students taking additional courses.
  • Lastly, it has finally been established that there is a heightened interest for natural sciences, engineering and technology among students, and engineering is once again rated as one of the most popular professions.


How do we solve the problem?
LTH has been working for a number of years to solve the problem of under-financing by using reserves in the administrative capital. Unfortunately, we have been forced to spend this capital at a much higher rate than we would have liked, due to the limits placed on the acceptable size of the administrative capital by the University management.

From 2013 onwards there will not be any reserves left in the administrative capital, which will create a deficit unless extraordinary measures are taken. The main issue here is that it is difficult to make spasmodic changes to 5-year programmes. Last year we reduced the number of places by 100, even though we had increased the number of places in the two previous years (50 + 45 new places). Remarkably, KTH and Chalmers have been given a different treatment altogether, and have received an extra 150 + 45 new places in the last two years. They also received additional funds for temporary places to the sum of SEK 40 and 30 million (KTH and Chalmers respectively), where Lund University only received a total of SEK 17 million – of which only SEK 4 million made its way to LTH.

We are of the opinion that LTH has been grossly disadvantaged by the Ministry of Education and Research (and by Lund University), in terms of the allocation of both new permanent and temporary student places. This is particularly absurd considering that LTH has the highest number of applicants per place, and educate the second biggest number of Master of Science in Engineering students in the country.

Plan of action
The Faculty Board has established that we are facing a substantial deficit for the next few years within first- and second cycle education. This deficit can be kept at a minimum by cutting back on admissions to the programmes. As I mentioned earlier, we are holding discussions with many different parties to make people see the absurdity in our situation. We are of the opinion that we are being disadvantaged compared to the institutes based in larger cities. Future projections show that the greatest need for engineers will be found in Skåne, while there will be balance in Stockholm, and only a small deficit in Gothenburg.

What happens next?
At a supplementary faculty board meeting held on 14 November, the Board requested further analysis and projections around various scenarios that will form the basis of the decisions that are to be taken at the upcoming board meeting on 14 December. The Board expressed the importance of safeguarding the longer educational programmes. Whatever happens, we will have to reduce the number of students we admit for the 2013/14 academic year. At the same time we are working to reduce our costs and increase our revenues. The latter requires a better understanding of our situation by the Ministry, and for them to start treating us the same way they do KTH and Chalmers. We hope that they will realise that there is a very active and successful region in the southern part of the country – or are we simply too far from Stockholm to be noticed?

Anders Axelsson
Dean of LTH

 

22 October 2012


Competency centre within ICT?

Region Skåne recently gave Sven Otto Littorin (former Labour Minister for the Swedish Conservative Party) the task of saving telecom jobs in Skåne, in response to the recent Sony Mobile redundancies. His suggestion of creating a Competency Centre within mobile solutions is a very good idea. It would give us the opportunity to showcase our strengths within information and communications technology (ICT), not just here at LTH, but also within the wider university as well as local private enterprise. Together we cover a broad spectrum of competencies. A Competency Centre would increase our visibility and attractiveness to top researchers, and would strengthen our position as one of Sweden’s leading ICT regions. It would also strengthen existing networks between the academic and business communities. The more we can engage our local business community, the faster we can turn innovation into practical application.

When Sydsvenskan reported on this issue over the weekend, it turned into a discussion about football. Littorin wanted a superstar forward (a ‘Zlatan Professor’), and I wanted to increase the number of players on the pitch. I think we are actually after the same thing: to make the region’s ICT operations more visible and attractive. And that is something we can achieve. In collaboration with several other higher education institutes, we already have a national strategic research area (ELLIT Excellence Centre) at LTH. We also have industrial Centres of Excellence within both software (EASE) and hardware (SoS). Competency within the area of mobile services is being developed with the help of (amongst others) Malmö Högskola, at the NMSA research centre. All these centres enjoy high levels of industry engagement, and have Mobile Heights as a common network.

We also have a great history to build on. Much of what you will find at Ericsson, ST-Ericsson and Sony Mobile has come from LTH. Bluetooth technology was invented in Lund. Mats Lindoff can often be heard to say that the development of mobile telephony in Sweden started with a large number of degree- and ‘lic’ projects at LTH. Ideon has been a catalyst in this work as well.

On top of this, we are able to unlock an incredible potential for development when ICT industry connects with the breadth of competencies that exist within LTH and Lund University, for example life sciences, biotechnology, as well as medical, nano, and energy technologies, etc, etc. We do not just have one football team – we have many. Nor is football the only sport we play. It is from this breadth that we will develop our edge. We cannot win with a score of 4-4, but 5-4 is enough to secure a victory.

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH


15 October 2012

What makes an attractive research facility?

This question has been given extra attention recently, due to the Research and Innovation bill presented by the Swedish government, which allocates money in the budget for the specific purpose of hiring top researchers. The obvious question we ask ourselves in light of this is: What makes us attractive as an institution? I would like to tell you about two recent experiences that led me to the same conclusion on this topic.

The first was in conjunction with the Dean Committee’s trip to Oxford and Cambridge a couple of weeks ago, where we met with a researcher from Lund University, who is currently working in Oxford. He compared the two universities, and gave his opinion on what advantages Lund has over Oxford. His first point was around quality of life. Second and third came the area’s excellent infrastructure and schools. His observations were in line with what I’ve experienced previously when recruiting foreign researchers.

The second is a recent report, World Top 100, which features interviews with mobile researchers, and details their motives for choosing one university over another. The report also gives us the opportunity to benchmark Lund University against average values for our competitors. Nine different factors were evaluated. Motivational factors included budget and facilities, university reputation, departmental reputation, research freedom, and other experts in my field. Hygiene factors included salary, contract, family, and quality of life. When compared to other universities, Lund scores highly on quality of life and family, followed closely by budget and facilities.

What conclusions can we draw from this information? It is necessary to look at the bigger picture for researchers with families when we are recruiting. I do not think it is as easy as simply “buying” top international researchers. The quality of life for the whole family is of vital importance. I also believe it is important to create an excellent research infrastructure, with top quality equipment and research colleagues who are good speaking partners.

In my opinion, the Research and Innovation bill should instead have invested in research infrastructure. We are now seeing the polar opposite: the research committees do not think it is exciting enough to invest in research equipment. Instead, universities must use their own meagre faculty budgets to make these investments. Any additional funds to this pot are now to be used to buy top international researchers. But Ronaldo can’t play alone – he needs 10 other players to make up a team.

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering LTH

 

24 September 2012


About the budget proposal and being far away from Stockholm

Last week the Swedish government unveiled its Budget Bill for 2013, and State Secretary, Peter Honeth, came to Lund University to present it at our annual budget breakfast. It is very encouraging that Sweden can afford to invest in education and research, while many southern European countries are forced to drastically reduce their spending. In spite of this, I am ungrateful enough to focus on the fly in the otherwise delicious soup.

Here at LTH, we - along with colleagues in the private sector - would much rather take advantage of the current surge of interest in engineering, by setting aside funds for temporary additional student places. The industry is facing a time when retirement numbers are increasing at the same time as the 19 year-old demographic is in decline, and a temporary increase in available workforce would therefore be very welcome. Saying that, 45 extra places for Masters students and 10 new Bachelor’s places does grant some light relief. We hope that LTH can benefit from the additional temporary places that Lund University has been granted. Our colleagues at other technical colleges in the bigger cities have already been awarded additional temporary places.

The complete research and innovation proposal will be presented later this autumn, however the main points have already been revealed in newspapers and during press conferences. It contains plans for investments in ESS and MaxIV, which makes us feel somewhat more secure here in Lund. Critics sometimes say these large research institutions are the chicks that will one day rule the roost, which is why it is vital that we secure the research funds to remain strong in our own right.

The main portion of life sciences investment will land in Stockholm, and be used to build up SciLifeLab. There is even a new medical research centre being created in AstraZeneca’s old facilities in Södertälje, which will focus on sustainable process development and catalysis, and make excellent use of the former staff’s knowledge and competencies. The government is contributing 100 million SEK to this project. When AstraZeneca closed down their facilities in Lund, we were left to cope entirely on our own, with the help of private, regional and academic initiatives. Medicon Village became a reality largely due to the generous private donation of 100 million SEK from Mats Paulsson. It is now growing at an incredible rate. There are already 450 people in situ, and it is estimated that number will increase to 900 by the end of 2013 – the same number of people who left AstraZeneca.

It seems we do quite well for being so far from Stockholm.

Anders Axelsson
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering LTH