What’s around the corner – with Johan Tysk

9 september 2019

At the Nordtek network meeting before summer, Johan Tysk, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for the Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, became the network's new President.

The bell has rung for the autumn term and sleeves are being rolled up around the faculty. What’s in the works for Teknat in the near future? Johan Tysk, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for the Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, gives a glimpse into the future.

It’s still early in the autumn, but what do you think will be the main features of work at the Faculty of Science and Technology in the near future?

Johan Tysk, Deputy Vice-Chancellor
for the Disciplinary Domain of Science
nd Technology.

“Even if it’s a while yet until then, there is a strong focus on the eight new programmes of study starting up at Teknat in the autumn of 2020. We’re in full swing developing the courses to be part of the six international Master’s programmes, the Master’s programme in Industrial Engineering & Management and the Bachelor’s programme in Industrial Engineering and Development. All of the programmes are responding to increased demand in the community locally and globally, and Uppsala University is going to be an obvious resource there.

“Additive Manufacturing, which is one of the Master’s programmes, is already growing fast in many large Swedish companies. Image Analysis and Machine Learning, along with Data Analysis, are two additional programmes that focus on artificial intelligence for faster data analysis and computations. A similar direction is clear in the new Master’s programme in Industrial Analytics, where process and production data in industrial systems combined with data analysis methods aim to improve and speed up decisions. Materials Engineering is somewhat of a profile area for us with our high level of expertise in batteries, and is also getting its own Master’s programme. We also have a new Master’s programme in Water Engineering. How we use and distribute water is a problem throughout the world. All the new programmes are in subject areas being taught at the biggest universities of technology internationally. So with these programmes, we are taking a giant leap forward as educators in the international arena in the engineering sector.

“But I would also like to stress that we are taking advantage of the breadth of our university in these programmes. The content of these new programmes includes quite a lot of physics, chemistry and mathematics as well as earth sciences and information technology. Industrial Analytics also spills over into the economics side of things, and thus links up with the Master’s programme in Industrial Engineering & Management. That programme is one of the ones that attracts the most first-choice applications at other higher education institutions, so we have very high hopes that it will attract many students to us.

The new international Master's programmes are part of the Faculty’s internationalisation efforts, which can also be found on the Faculty’s Punktlista. More than half that work has been done. What remains on that list to pull it all together?

“On the research side, the funding for some of our infrastructures and the organisation around them remain unclear. One of these is FREIA, but there are also national tasks that we would like to complete before the current government’s mandate period is over. For example, we have a lot of responsibility within SNIC, the Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing, and new issues turn up all the time. So it’s important that we are involved in SNIC. We have initiatives in the works concerning Max IV that are being discussed.

“Another extremely interesting partnership is the European research project Battery 2030+ which is being managed by Kristina Edström from the Department of Chemistry-Ångström. With 17 other partners from 9 different EU countries, this project aims to develop the next generation of batteries for large-scale but sustainable energy storage. It’s a huge challenge for society, but we are very pleased about the confidence shown by the European Commission in giving us the task of managing this project in an area where our research is absolutely cutting edge.

“We are now also positioning ourselves within Sweden’s national strategy on the development of artificial intelligence through our new AI professorship, funded by the Beijerstiftelsen (Beijer Foundation). It’s an exciting development for the whole university, and we will start working with it on a broad front in January 2020. AI is more than just machine systems or industrial robots. It’s a tool for scholarly research – a research methodology. Since it concerns all the sciences, it should be part of all the sciences. Once we start using it and integrating it into research, it will become integrated into our education programmes.”

How are the Faculty’s construction projects progressing?

“Building 9 within the New Ångström Laboratory will be complete by the summer in 2020. The Department of Physics and Astronomy will move into this wing, and it will also house a number of lecture theatres. So planning for the relocations within the existing Ångström Laboratory is in full swing. The investment in the New Ångström Laboratory is also an important one for Uppsala as a city. We have a municipality and a region that wants to expand and as a country we can benefit from having greater volumes in science and technology.

“The Faculty is also continuing the development of the Lagerträdet quarter, which includes the Evolutionary Biology Centre and Geocentrum. In January 2020, the Biology Library will move back to premises in the Museum of Evolution Zoology in the Botanical Gardens. Student areas with high-tech equipment will be housed there, and space added for creativity and meetings. The premises will be accessible to the entire university, a modern meeting place across faculty boundaries. At Geocentrum, the entire student corridor will be rebuilt and should be completed in autumn 2020.”

On the personal front, you recently took over as president of Nordtek, a network for vice-chancellors and deans at universities and faculties in engineering and technology in the Nordic countries. Your presidency will run until June 2021. What’s on the agenda there?

“We will be focusing on three areas: mobility and exchanges of experience in the network as regards undergraduate students, doctoral students and ultimately perhaps also researchers; educational development; and entrepreneurship and innovation. The first task is to gather ideas from these higher education institutions in these areas. Then we will draw up an action plan for the two-year period that I am president. I think that this is very timely, as there is a very strong engineering tradition in the Nordic region. We’re also seeing this kind of build-up in the Baltic States. Around the Baltic Rim, we have a common cultural foundation that facilitates partnering – something that we can rally around and build on. It’s a job I am looking forward to.”