Live stream of Commemoration Day from DTU Library

Monday 26 Apr 21

Academic degrees in 2020

Doctorates in 2020
In 2020, the Academic Council awarded Karsten Arnbjerg Nielsen and Mirko Salewski technical doctorates.

Honorary doctorates for 2020
The Swiss Professor Kay Axhausen has distinguished himself with his research into traffic behaviour and was awarded an honorary doctorate for 2020. The American PhD Arthur Yaghjian was awarded an honorary doctorate for 2020 for his work on electromagnetic field theory.

DTU’s 2021 Commemoration Day was streamed live from DTU Lyngby Campus while the audience shared the event on social media. The event ended with a concert by Infernal in the wind tunnel on Risø Campus.

Photo: Bax Lindhardt

Stand by to go live. The final preparations were made shortly before the first virtual DTU Commemoration Day, which was held at Lyngby Campus Library on Friday 23 April. The atmosphere among the participants and the technical staff was calm and concentrated as the technicians in the production truck counted down in the parking lot outside the windows. The show was ready to start.

While the annual Commemoration Day is traditionally a celebration attended by a limited number of students, employees, and invited external researchers, this year everyone was able to attend the online event at home from their living rooms or dorm rooms. This meant that the academic ceremony was watched by many more people than there would normally be room for in DTU’s sports hall. Many of them chose to share their experiences on Instagram during the evening.

From Hans Christian Ørsted to Hirtshals

The afternoon began symbolically with the singer Dorthe Gerlach singing ‘In Denmark Was I Born’, with the addition of a verse about science which DTU’s founder Hans Christian Ørsted wrote to his friend Hans Christian Andersen, because he believed Andersen had neglected science by leaving out all the discoveries and inventions we Danes can be proud of. During the song, drone images were shown from DTU’s facilities around Denmark, including EEL-HATCH in Hirtshals, where DTU Aqua runs experimental facilities for the reproduction of eels.

Then, DTU’s president Anders Bjarklev and chair of Polyteknisk Forening (PF student association) Andreas Balzer Skov introduced the event, which was hosted by Ulla Essendrop. During the show, awards were given for DTU’s excellent research results and inspiring teaching, and the Student Start-up of the Year was celebrated at DTU Skylab. This year’s commemorative lecture was given by Professor Olav Breinbjerg from DTU Electrical Engineering, who spoke live from the anechoic room at DTU Lyngby Campus. And the evening ended with a concert by Infernal in the Poul La Cour wind tunnel at Risø Campus.

Highlights from the academic ceremony

Foto: Bax Lindhardt

DTU President Anders Bjarklev introduced the academic part of the ceremony by looking back on the year of the pandemic, in which DTU succeeded with many things despite the circumstances:

“I’m impressed with the way you, our dear DTU staff and students, tackled the challenges thrown at you. Our lecturers and researchers converted their teaching to online formats over a weekend, literally! Working-from-home arrangements, new tasks and new routines were approached with great flexibility by all our colleagues, and still are. For example, our researchers have delivered—and still deliver—calculations and models, analyses and sequencing of COVID-19 tests, and research in the fields of diagnostics, tracing and monitoring of the spread of infection.”

“But I don’t just want to paint an idyllic picture. Not everything has been—or is—a walk in the park. It hasn’t all been good news. Not everybody thrives with online teaching or working from home, without much social interaction, without campus life. We have to take this seriously. 2020 has reminded us that we need each other. We need our sense of community. And we look forward to being back.”

“The future’s bright, despite all the challenges: we’ve shown that we’re capable of making big changes, that we can change our behaviour, and that our research makes a difference. Engineers can’t save the world on their own, but the world can’t be saved without engineers either. Together we’ll create technology for people, and for the benefit of society.”

Read the president’s full speech.

Chair of Polyteknisk Forening (PF student association):

Foto: Bax Lindhardt

Andreas Baltzer Skov, chair of Polyteknisk Forening (PF student association), said in his speech:

“Becoming an engineer at DTU is no small task. It takes time, courage and independence and is very challenging. Facing these challenges helps drive our personal and professional development—and it should continue to do so. But when I meet with my fellow students, I’m confronted by students who are having a hard time for completely the wrong reasons. Pandemic or not, I meet students who have to endure stress, loneliness and dissatisfaction with their studies. The pandemic has only highlighted and exacerbated this problem.”

“Because although we’ve learned that lectures can to a large extent be emulated in digital spaces, we’ve also seen that unfortunately it’s not as easy to recreate a good student life. For instance, the coffee breaks during the lectures, the good times in the basement bar and the social environments that help keep us going when we have to hand in our third assignment in a week. In other words, all the things that don’t have a direct academic aim, but are also important and valuable when it comes to good student life.”

“I won’t claim to know the solution to all this. But I think if we want to get to the root of the problem, it requires an effort—from us students and from the university where we spend our weekdays—as well as a confrontation with the detrimental conditions that have been created by government policy and the culture it’s left us with.”

Two awards for Lecturers of the Year

Foto: Bax Lindhardt

Every year, the DTU students vote on their Lecturers of the Year. This year, the honour went to Bastian Epp, Associate Professor at DTU Health Technology, and Henrik Bechmann, Head of Studies for the BEng programme in Health Technology and Associate Professor at DTU Engineering Technology. As Lecturers of the Year, Bastian and Henrik each receive DKK 25,000 and a small gift from the PF student association.

Working Environment Award

Foto: Bax Lindhardt

This year’s Working Environment Award went to Occupational Health and Safety Coordinator Majken Becker, who for more than 15 years has made extraordinary efforts to ensure a good working environment at DTU Nanolab—in recent years also at group level. In his statement, President Anders Bjarklev said:

“Majken Becker is always constructive and pragmatic in her approach which makes her great to work with for all parties. In addition to her excellent work in her everyday job, she has put in an extraordinary effort to ensure that DTU Nanolab has been able to keep its infrastructure facility open for most of the corona crisis.”

Student Start-up of the Year

Foto: Bax Lindhardt

The award for Student Start-up of the Year went to the students behind the Reel project and their vision that consumer demand for green electricity is to lead to a real increase in production. Reel is a reaction against an electricity market that has the character of a zero-sum game in which some receive certificates for their purchases of green electricity, which in reality simply means that other consumers get less green electricity in their energy consumption.

Reel was founded by the two DTU students Jon Sigvert, [billede] who completed an MSc in Environmental Technology in March this year, and Christian Randløv Schmidt, who finished a BSc in Software Technology. The award was presented by Marianne Thellersen, Director for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Senior Vice President.

Read more about Reel.

Three doctorates in 2021
Three researchers have defended their technical PhD dissertations at DTU in 2021. The Academic Council has awarded Dines Bjørner, Rafael Taboryski and Hans Nørgaard Hansen technical doctorates.

Two honorary doctorates in 2021
This year, two honorary doctorates were awarded. Scottish Professor Gillian Wright receives an honorary doctorate for her work in astrophysics. Read more

Professor Michael Thouless receives an honorary doctorate for his research into the breaking mechanics of materials.

Commemorative lecture of the year

Foto: Bax Lindhardt

This year’s commemorative lecture was given by Professor Olav Breinbjerg from DTU Electrical Engineering, who spoke from DTU’s anechoic room.

The DTU Gold Medal

DTU’s Gold Medal is awarded to a researcher who has made a special impact DTU. This year, the medal was awarded to Professor Dr. Wolfgang Herrmann, who was President of the Technische Universität München, TUM, between 1995 and 2019. He was a key figure in the formation of the EuroTech Universities Alliance, a strategic and visionary collaboration between leading European technical universities, and in the establishment of the alliance’s joint representation in Brussels.

The Alexander Foss Gold Medal

Foto: Bax Lindhardt

This year, President Anders Bjarklev presented the Alexander Foss Gold Medal to Liselotte Højgaard, a specialist in clinical physiology and nuclear medicine with an MD and DMSc from the University of Copenhagen. Liselotte Højgaard is a clinical professor at the University of Copenhagen and since 2008 also an honorary professor at DTU.

Since 2000, she has headed Rigshospitalet’s Clinic for Clinical Physiology, Nuclear Medicine and PET, an internationally leading research environment. A study on PET scans for lung cancer that she led has helped set the standard for the use of PET scanning to diagnose lung cancer worldwide.

Liselotte Højgaard has been involved in establishing and developing the MSc Eng programme in Medicine and Technology since 2002. The programme was the first joint study programme between DTU and the University of Copenhagen. She has done an exceptional job on establishing the programme and is still helping to educate the MSc students.

Concert in the wind tunnel

Foto: Bax Lindhardt

The wind tunnel at Risø Campus is not usually used as a venue, so there were many things that had to be agreed with the band Infernal and the camera crew before the show could begin. As soon as the stage lights were turned on, the space was transformed from a cold concrete room into a dramatic stage.

“When we were here the first time, we just went ‘wow,’” says Paw Lagermann, one half of the Infernal duo. And singer Lina Rafn adds: “It’s been great. I think it went surprisingly well. Especially considering that everything went wrong in rehearsals. I think it’s the most impressive location we’ve ever played in, and that’s including huge shows with 100,000 people. You’d give your right arm to make music videos in here.”

Watch DTU’s 2021 Commemoration Day


By Petrine Bauer Ladegaard

Natasja Kaas Lund
MSc Eng student in Quantitative Biology and Disease Modelling

Foto: Privat
Photo: Private

What was it like to attend the Commemoration Day from home?

“Of course, it’s more intimate to watch it at home. But I actually expected that it would be just as fun as the last two times I’ve attended. All in all, I think it exceeded my expectations. It was great to watch the academic part for the first time, which had a lot of impressive presentations. And then Infernal gave the whole event an energy boost, so thanks to them for that.”

Line Katrine Harder Clemmensen
Associate Professor, DTU Compute

Foto: Privat
Photo: Private

What’s it like to attend the Commemoration Day from home?

“I’m really glad that we’re keeping the tradition alive, and I was also ready to be surprised by the new format. It was impressively organized, with good speeches, inspiring honorary doctorates and technical doctorates and a fantastic presentation by Olav Breinbjerg from DTU Electrical Engineering. It was festive, but I did miss the company of good colleagues.”

Katrine Brixen Bojesen

Academic Officer for Education & Events and e-learning consultant, DTU Civil Engineering
Foto: Privat
Photo: Private

What’s it like to attend the Commemoration Day from home?

“It was a bit strange. I think it’s a really nice event, and one I want to support. But since I was just at home, it was kind of business as usual, since the time coincided with dinner with the kids. The nice thing was that I could share it with the family, and my five-year-old was fascinated when he heard the part about outer space. We even did a little dancing to Infernal.”

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