Adjunct Professor contributes to relevant research questions

2021-09-21

Portrait photo of Holger Ecke.Holger Ecke, manager at Vattenfall Research and Development (R&D) and adjunct professor at the Department of Civil and Industrial Engineering, appreciates the synergy effects his employment provides:

- Being able to serve in both academia and business environments is very inspiring and motivating, says Holger Ecke.

An adjunct professor is appointed with external funding and has a fixed term employment. The purpose is to engage qualified people in research and teaching who have their main professional activity outside the university.

One of many adjunct professors at Uppsala University is Holger Ecke. Since 2019, he has been working at the Department of Civil and Industrial Engineering, more specifically at the Division of Civil Engineering and Built Environment. The assignment as adjunct professor is performed by Holger Ecke at 20 percent. The rest of the time he works as head of the research and development unit Infrastructure Laboratory at Vattenfall Research and Development (R&D). Besides leading 20 employees, he is responsible for R&D projects executed in the field of wind power.

Hi Holger, how come you became an adjunct professor?

- Through my position at Vattenfall R&D, I have had many contacts and touchpoints with Uppsala University for many years. Since the Division of Civil Engineering and Built Environment corresponds to the R&D need we have at Vattenfall, it felt natural that the question arose about affiliation. With associate professor competence as well as a distinct interest in research, the formal step was not far to an adjunct professorship.

What do you work with as an adjunct professor?

- As an adjunct professor, I work with infrastructure in energy systems. Facilities in the energy sector largely consist of an extensive infrastructure such as dams, tunnels, foundations, buildings, roads, culverts, pipelines and so on. Its operation and maintenance is a challenge when it comes to both availability and reliability. Both economic viability, sustainability and safety can be significantly affected.

"The academy's environment offers enormous opportunities to create deep understanding, which in turn benefits a company's development work"
 

Do you enjoy having a shared employment? What are the benefits?

- Sharing the service between a company's R&D organization and a university is both inspiring and motivating. The academy's environment offers enormous opportunities to create deep understanding, which in turn benefits a company's development work. On the other hand, the company perspective can help to formulate relevant research questions. I have always enjoyed this field of tension between analysis and synthesis.
 

Portrait photo of Joakim Widén.At the Department of Civil and Industrial Engineering, Holger's contributions as an adjunct professor are appreciated. Head of Division Joakim Widen says that, for example, it will be much easier to identify, start up and run collaborations between industry and universities:

- An adjunct person who has direct insight into both activities can much more easily see opportunities and synergies. Another important thing is to get direct feedback on what is interesting and prioritized in the industry and what the needs for new knowledge and development are. It is valuable for us in both research and education, says Joakim Widén.

Do you want more adjunct professors and how do you become one?

- We absolutely do. And not just adjunct professors, you can also become an adjunct lecturer or assistant professor, depending on merit. To get an adjunct position, the employer outside the university needs to see a value in the person spending part of their time at the university. Normally, it is the adjunct's employer outside the university who pays the salary also for the time spent at the university - which is well-invested money!

Caroline Holmbom

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Last modified: 2021-10-12