Why KTH is cooperating with Illinois
Why the University of Illinois? Because it has many similarities with KTH, a good reputation and is placed high on the rankings. Moreover, there is a passion among their researchers for collaboration with KTH. In May, a delegation will visit to work out concrete forms of cooperation.
Charlotte Elfgren, international officer at KTH, has further arguments. One of the most important is probably that students at KTH are extremely keen to travel across the Atlantic to study.
“We know that our students want to go to the United States. Study experience from abroad, especially the United States, provides an immense boost to future career possibilities,” says Charlotte Elfgren.
Cooperation within the student exchange programme is already in full swing. During the coming autumn, a number of KTH students will be packing their bags to go over and study at the University of Illinois, at the same time as students from Illinois will be coming to KTH. The Swedish students will come primarily from ITM and SCI.
“The student exchange programme has the potential to grow really big. It is, however, all about keeping a balance where just as many American students come to KTH,” Charlotte Elfgren explains.
A major advantage with the University of Illinois is the fact that there are already Swedish researchers there. At campus Urbana-Champaign in Illinois, there are two people from KTH and Sweden. Both of them, Harry Dankowicz and Anna Westerståhl Stenport are deeply involved in the Swedish-American cooperation.
“They know how the Swedish educational system works, which helps when it comes to sending American students to Sweden and KTH,” says Charlotte Elfgren.
Important immersion in the Swedish language
Anna Westerståhl Stenport is in charge of the program Scandinavian Studies at the University of Illinois, which offers courses in the Swedish language. Being able to study Swedish in Sweden and to get the important “immersion in the language” will increase the motivation of her students to apply to KTH,” says Charlotte Elfgren.
Cooperation with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign began in January last year. That was when the first trip to the United States took place, and five different U.S. universities were visited, including the University of Illinois campus, a small university town, not far from Chicago. In December 2010, a KTH delegation of 18 people went over to discuss a closer cooperation.
Next contact will be on the 4th to 6th of May when 40 people are coming to KTH, including several researchers and representatives from university management. Cooperation will then be developed and the forms for how it can take place will be worked out more in detail.
Stefan Östlund, Professor of Electric Power Engineering and Dean of the EES School has travelled to the University of Illinois. He believes that at this stage it is about trying to develop the ideas that have been discussed and identify ways in which they can collaborate. There is no shortage of ideas.
“There is much we can collaborate on: short teacher exchanges, joint research projects and we can try to establish traditional doctoral student and student exchanges,” says Stefan Östlund.
Time to become inspired
With regard to teacher and researcher exchanges, there is much to gain for those who participate:
“The possibility to change environment and to be in another university is extremely rewarding. It’s about finding inspiration and time to think up new ideas,” says Stefan Östlund.
He emphasizes that it is much easier to arrange this type of exchange if there is already an established relationship between the universities. It will for example facilitate the possibility of finding funding for teaching and research exchanges.
Stefan Östlund believes that the University of Illinois has many similarities with KTH:
“It’s very easy to work with them. To a great extent, they have the same ambitions as KTH, which makes collaboration easy,” says Stefan Östlund.
Text: Peter Larsson