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Eskild Holm Nielsen: Tech to be the collaborative faculty

Eskild Holm Nielsen took up his position as the dean of the new Faculty of Technical Sciences at the turn of the year, and he is already hard at work consolidating the new faculty and setting its strategic direction.

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Eskild Holm Nielsen took up his position as the dean of the new Faculty of Technical Sciences at the turn of the year.

Both the dean and the faculty are new. But the former already has a good idea about where the latter should go, and how it will get there.

“We need to forge an identity and set a strategic direction for Tech in line with AU's new and very visionary strategy. We have to deliver in a number of areas, and we have a number of obvious options to pursue and realise,” explains Eskild Holm Nielsen.

The new Faculty of Technical Sciences consists of many locations and subject areas, and according to the dean, uniting these into a strong and consolidated unit will be a challenging and exciting task.

“A great many opportunities lie hidden in the synergy between the many different disciplines and approaches at Tech. We have three supporting pillars - engineering, the environment and agriculture - and the interplay between these can lead to the development of new, innovative solutions. I'm humbled by the task of developing a new faculty consisting of so many exciting elements, and I'm looking forward to creating a common faculty to benefit of all of us, and to benefit our society,” says Eskild Holm Nielsen.

Strategic direction

Eskild Holm Nielsen’s first job will be to develop a strategy for the faculty, and clearly this will have to align with the new strategy for AU. The faculty’s new strategy will focus in particular on four areas: the green transition, entrepreneurship, digitalisation and the engineering area.

“Tech has a huge innate potential to help solve some of the major challenges facing the world. Climate, biodiversity and resources consumption – we at the faculty can help with concrete proposals for solutions in all these areas. We want to be known as the faculty that works with our surroundings to forge solutions and to help create real benefits for society. We must train the graduates society demands, both in digitalisation and in engineering. And we must be frontrunners in the green transition, so that we are recognised as a faculty that contributes actively to devising solutions for the area,” says Eskild Holm Nielsen.

Eskild Holm Nielsen describes himself as “entrepreneurial with a good political network”, and with past positions such as the innovation manager at Aalborg University Hospital, entrepreneurship was an obvious choice as one of his strategic focus areas. According to the dean, AU has one of Denmark’s best outsets to become a leader in research-based entrepreneurship.

“Getting entrepreneurship and innovation high on the agenda is crucial. This is where there is scope for improvement at all Danish universities, including here at Aarhus. I want entrepreneurship at Tech to be integrated into everything we do, from teaching, to research, to public sector consultancy - in collaboration with the other faculties at AU, and of course with the world around us,” says Eskild Holm Nielsen.

More engineers for society

In recent years, there has been strong focus on the digitalisation and engineering areas. Demand from the business community is huge, and extensive initiatives have been launched to attract more students to engineering and digitalisation programmes via the engineering initiative and the digitisation initiative here at AU.

“Tech has an important role in promoting collaboration with the surrounding society. The business community lacks Bachelors of Engineering, and it’s our job to help by supplying the graduates they need. There is a huge untapped potential that we need to develop. Technical science is also an important element in the development of solutions within almost everything. Besides developing a strong research environment in the engineering field, I can see great potential in the interplay between engineering and the two other faculty pillars of the environment and agriculture,” says Eskild Holm Nielsen.

The international area also has focus from the new dean, who wants to develop even more internationally recognised research programmes and forge more national and international alliances.

The next steps

Eskild Holm Nielsen has already held meetings individually with members of the faculty management team. In the near future, he will be touring all departments and centres.

“I'm looking forward to meeting the whole faculty and seeing its full breadth and potential. I’ve already noticed a dedicated team spirit within the yellow walls, and I'm sure that this spirit is just as strong at other locations. There is ambition, drive and dedication in all my colleagues. They are all busy on exciting projects at the departments, and everywhere I go I meet an extremely high level of professionalism.

According to the dean, the solid academic foundation throughout the entire faculty is a strong point of departure for establishing good collaboration.

“My ambition is for us to be recognised as a collaborative faculty. My goal is to establish collaborations between academic staff, managers, external partners and representatives from other faculties. I'm a team player and I thrive on creating results alongside others. I'm looking forward to working with you to set the direction for Tech to move forward," says Eskild Holm Nielsen.

Facts about Eskild Holm Nielsen

  • MSc in Engineering from Aalborg University with special focus on the environment area. Academic focus on sustainability and on planning and regulation of the environment.

  • Comes from a position as innovation manager and head of the Idea Clinic at Aalborg University Hospital.

  • Dean of the Faculty of Technical and Natural Sciences/the Technical Faculty of IT and Design at Aalborg University from 2010 to 2017. 
  • Chairman of NordTech – dean’s conference for the tech field in Scandinavia.

  • ATV (Danish Academy of Technical Sciences) Committee for Science and Engineering, vice-chair in the specialist group for health technology.

  • Member of the board, University of Stavanger.

 Read an article about Eskild Holm Nielsen from his appointment as the dean