Commemoration Day 2017

Wednesday 03 May 17
HRH Crown Prince Frederik and Søren Pind, the Danish Minister for Higher Education and Science, participated in DTU’s traditional Commemoration Day, where the academic part of the programme was a mix of constructive criticism and considerable enthusiasm.

There is no doubt what all the fuss is about. When there are flags, a royal limousine, red carpets, and magnificent floral decorations, then it stands to reason that it is the DTU Commemoration Day. At the end of the red carpet, DTU President Anders Bjarklev, Executive Vice President Rasmus Larsen, and Mette Bybjerg Brock, Chair of Polyteknisk Forening (PF student association) could this year welcome both HRH Crown Prince Frederik and Søren Pind, Minister for Higher Education and Science. They participated in the academic part of the celebrations, which saw concerns being raised about the universities’ future, and the celebration of Danish as well as international members of staff for their particular contribution to DTU’s research, education, innovation, and consultancy.

After the academic part, the celebrations continued for the students, employees and special guests with a dinner and dance: a three-course menu, concerts with, among others, Gulddreng, Anna David, and The Minds of 99, as well as dancing—including three attempts at the fifth tour of Les Lancers.

Highlights from the academic part:


Photo: Torben Nielsen

The President’s speech: Study Progress Reform has led to increased drop-out rates on the study programmes

The first speaker was President Anders Bjarklev, who highlighted DTU’s successes in the past year, but also criticized the unfortunate effect of the Study Progress Reform at DTU:

“I have nothing positive to say about the hundreds of re-examinations which have been a result of the Study Progress Reform: It would benefit everyone if our researchers were able to spend more time on new research findings or developing new and innovative pedagogical methods. Likewise, we are seeing how the increased time constraints for student means they are less involved in student political activities, in extracurricular academic activities at DTU, and in mentor schemes, etc. This is a great pity because, as the Polyteknisk Forening has pointed out, this involvement in the community is important for our willingness to become engaged in society and to share the responsibilities. In other words, simply to be a citizen. And this is our foremost mission at DTU: To benefit society—also as students. Everything is going well here—but give us more time! For student life and all that it embraces—and for the academic activities. Unfortunately, we are seeing that we are now losing 250 students more a year who are not becoming engineers. This is, of course, first and foremost unfortunate for the people concerned, but it is also a considerable loss for society at large.

Read Anders Bjarklev’s Commemoration Day speech in full.

Photo: Torben Nielsen

Chairman of Polyteknisk Forening (PF student association) criticizes cutbacks

There was also criticism from the rostrum when Mette Bybjerg Brock gave her speech as chair of the student organization Polyteknisk Forening. She criticized, among other things, the cutbacks which have been implemented in recent years to the study programmes:

“It might well be that teaching in ancient Greece could take place in an olive grove using the sand as a blackboard and a stick to write with, but we are no longer in ancient Greece. It is vital that we have the latest technology at our disposal, if we are to develop the next generation of technology. And this requires resources. I would be lying if I said that the extensive cutbacks in education which have been made in recent years have not had an impact on the teaching. DTU is already doing everything within its power to prevent the effects of the cutbacks from being seen or felt. But they can.”

Photo: Torben Nielsen

DTU appoints two new honorary doctors

Among the academic highlights was the appointment of two honorary doctorates. The honorary doctorate (doctor technices, honouris causa) is the highest academic honour awarded by the University. This year, DTU awarded doctorates to two international researchers:

Professor Klaus Petermann from Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin) has spent several years working with DTU, among other things as an external examiner at PhD defences. His research field is photonics, including in particular laser technology and the optical fibres that are used within communication technologies such as the internet and mobile phones.

Professor Marion P.G. Koopmans from the Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands has specialized in virology, where she sets great store by international cooperation. During the Ebola epidemic, she was responsible for the implementation of the mobile laboratories in Sierra Leone and Liberia. The professor collaborates with, for example, DTU Food, which also conducts research into the early detection of disease outbreaks.


Three DTU researchers honoured for their doctoral dissertations

During the past year, three researchers have defended their scientific work for their technical doctoral degree (doctor technices):

Senior researcher Peter Munk from DTU Aqua has examined the growing conditions for fish larvae across fish species, physical conditions and climate zones. The growing conditions for larvae are crucial to the future of fish populations.

Watch the video to learn more.


Senior researcher Yunzhong Chen from DTU Energy is conducting research into the design of new materials that push the extent to which electronics can be miniaturized.

Watch the video to learn more.


 Associate Professor Anne Ladegård Skov from DTU Chemical Engineering is conducting research into so-called dielectric elastomer transducers, which in layman’s terms can be described as ‘artificial muscles’.

Watch the video to learn more.


DTU Gold Medal awarded to Lars Kann-Rasmussen, Chairman of the Board of Governors

The DTU Gold Medal is awarded to individuals who have made a special contribution to DTU. For many years, Lars Kann-Rasmussen has, through his work in the VELUX Foundations—as an ordinary board member and most recently as chairman of the board—played a key role for how the foundations have disbursed their donations.

Over the years, talented research groups have been supported through ‘VKR Centres of Excellence’, funding running into double-digit millions, and the groups have been able to achieve the necessary critical mass to ensure a high international level. The VILLUM Foundation’s ‘Young Investigator Programme’ which benefits young associate professors, assistant professors, and postdocs has also helped to strengthen the basis for new talents.

Photo: Torben Nielsen

Alexander Foss Gold Medal awarded to Professor Anja Boisen

This year, DTU has decided to award the Alexander Foss Gold Medal for deserving work within the field of engineering science to Professor Anja Boisen from DTU Nanotech for her groundbreaking R&D work within microsensors and nanosensors. Anja Boisen earned her PhD degree at DTU in 1997, which marked the start of a glowing career at the university. The professor’s academic work is internationally recognized, and she has also received a large number of prestigious awards and grants, including DKK 56 million for the basic research centre ‘Intelligent oral Drug delivery Using Nano and microfabricated containers’ (IDUN). Anja is also active on the innovation front, and can list 12 patent applications, three patents and a business start-up on her CV.


DTU Internationalization Award awarded to Associate professor Gunvor Kirkelund

Associate professor Gunvor Kirkelund from DTU Civil Engineering is head of studies for DTU’s new Nordic Master in Cold Climate Engineering, which has been established under the Nordic Five Tech alliance. Gunvor Kirkelund has made a huge effort to establish the study programme and at coordinating the cooperation across the three countries and the three DTU departments.


DTU award for scientific advice awarded to Anne Olhoff

Senior researcher and programme manager Anne Olhoff from the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) DTU Partnership is receiving the award because she is an outstanding example of what DTU must master to play a role on the international scene for scientific advice: Anne is an internationally recognized researcher who made a name for herself early in her career as an academic editor and co-author of the UNEP’s Emissions Gap Reports, which identify the gaps between countries’ reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions and the actual reduction that is needed to keep global temperature increases below 2°C. When the Emissions Gap Reports are used at the climate COP meetings, and Anne presents the findings at international conferences, she is helping to ensure that policies and legislation are decided on a scientific and informed basis for the benefit of the global society.

Photo: Torben Nielsen

Student Start-up of the Year awarded to Nordic Algae

Seaweed is being used to an increasing extent as a food and as an animal feed. However, its potential use is currently limited by the fact that it is difficult to harvest seaweed without damaging the plant’s roots and the seabed. This challenge has been addressed by Mathias Andersen, Emil Mørkedal and Oscar Schmeltzer, and they are in the process of developing a ‘seaweed combine harvester’. The three entrepreneurs are students on the BEng programme Process and Innovation at the same time as developing their business. The team succeeded in winning their category in the Green Challenge 2016, and they have become part of a research application in the Green Development and Demonstration Programme (GUDP) with, among others, DTU Food.


Students name Lecturers of the Year

Each year, DTU’s students select two Lecturers of the Year. This year, it was Professor Tim McAloone from DTU Mechanical Engineering and Associate Professor Birgitte Andersen from DTU Bioengineering who received the award. In presenting the award to the two lecturers, Chair of the PF students’ association Mette Bybjerg Brock said: “You have motivated your students to become even more engaged in the natural sciences, and taken them further than they themselves would ever have thought possible. Thank you for the huge difference you have made for the students you have taught.”

Professor Tim McAloone is a popular lecturer, among other things because of his motivational skills.

See more good reasons in the video. 


Associate Professor Birgitte Andersen is also a popular lecturer, among other things because she is patient, good at disseminating her material and because she is extremely knowledgeable.

See more good reasons in the video.



Arbejdsmiljøprisen 2017 awarded to OHS representative Anne Birgitte Skovholm Hedegaard

Anne Birgitte Skovholm Hedegaard has been the occupational health and safety representative, a member of Campus Service’s (CAS) work environmental committee and ergonomics ambassador in CAS since 2013. Anne Birgitte has been given the Arbejdsmiljøprisen (Occupational Health and Safety Award) for her always active and constructive participation in CAS’s environmental work.

Photo: Torben Nielsen

Lecture marks end of the awards party

In keeping with tradition, the awards party ended with a gala lecture. This year, the lecture—Digitalisering af hårde, våde og levende teknologier (Digitization of hard, wet and living technologies)—was given by Professor Jan Madsen from DTU Compute, in which he described the wild technological developments taking place that, among other things, will soon enable consumers to DNA-sequence their steaks and check where the meat comes from.

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