Aarhus University Seal

New head of department aims to build bridges to business and industry

Mikael Bergholz Knudsen will be starting on 1 March as the head of department at the new Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He has many years of experience in setting up collaboration between the university world and private business, and his ambition is for his new workplace also to be well known for its good collaboration – internally and externally.

[Translate to English:] 56-årige Mikael Bergholz Knudsen skifter 1. marts sin titel som konstitueret leder for Institut for Elektro- og Computerteknologi ud med en permanent titel som institutleder. Foto: Roar Paaske.

Electronics, IT and software technology have had a major impact on our modern world. And for 56-year-old Mikael Bergholz Knudsen, there is no doubt that this is also an area that will play a crucial role in solving some of the major challenges we, as a society, are facing today.

"The department has some exceptional competences in areas such as the green transition and digitalisation in particular, but it also has an obligation to make a difference. We must be drivers in this transition. In relation to research, education, and innovation, but also to a high degree in relation to collaboration with the private sector," says Mikael Bergholz.

He has been the acting head of department since the autumn, and for seven years before that he was the head of development at Electronics and Computer Engineering at the Aarhus University School of Engineering, so he already has strong knowledge about the employees and the subject area he is now to head permanently.

He also has 20 years of experience from large companies in the mobile-phone sector, such as Siemens Mobile, Maxon Telecom and Intel. In this context, he has headed several major research projects in collaboration with Aalborg University in particular. Among other things, he headed a large research project with a budget of DKK 90 million to develop new 4G technology with 60 researchers and students.

"That was when 4G was research," smiles Mikael Bergholz.

Good collaboration with business and industry

And this collaboration between the business community and universities is something he has been particularly involved in. In 2012, when he took an Executive MBA with focus on how to make such a match work. And today, as the project manager on a Grand Solutions project in collaboration with CeramicSpeed and Arla Foods on intelligent sensors to monitor industrial machines.

"I’d like the department to be known for its good collaboration.. Both internally and externally. We want to support private companies in their innovation and help them produce unique products. We must also ensure good internal collaboration with other departments – in order to ensure interdisciplinarity, relevance and quality in external collaboration," says Mikael Bergholz about his visions.

The new department is a merger of departments at the School of Engineering and the Department of Engineering, all of which were involved in electrical and computer engineering. This means that it is also a merger of two groups of employees who are probably both working in the same field, but each in their own way. And Mikael Bergholz sees opportunities here:

"There’s great potential in bringing together two specialist groups, each with their own unique qualification profiles. Top researchers and staff with top-level competencies from the business community. By bringing these strong forces together, we can become even better within research, development, innovation, entrepreneurship and education."

The students must learn to learn 

The new Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering educates both BSc’s and MSc’s in engineering and offers eleven different degree programmes at professional Bachelor's, Bachelor’s, and Master's levels.

"We have vocationally oriented and research-oriented degree programmes. And they both have an important role to play in the future of the business community and the development of society in general," says Mikael Bergholz.

No matter what programme students take, one competence is crucial when they leave the university with their graduation certificates: The ability to themselves learn and acquire knowledge.

"I've been involved in all the generations of mobile technology – from 1G to 5G. The students of the future will also experience this sort of development - but within other areas. No one can really guess what we’ll have to develop in ten years’ time. We need to keep students sharp right now – and then give them the skills to keep up," says Mikael Bergholz.

The new head of department has been fascinated by technology since his childhood in Tranbjerg, south of Aarhus. Mikael Bergholz’s grandfather was a mechanical engineer and developed locomotives at Frichs Maskinfabrik in Aarhus, and Mikael often joined his grandfather in his basement and mucked about with cogs and gears or soldered things together. And he spent his pocket money on a Commodore 64 computer, which he practiced programming on.

"Back then, I didn't think much about what I could actually use the technology for. It was just exciting to sit in front of a computer and get it to do something very simple. Actually it was all pretty amazing back then," smiles Mikael.


Mikael Bergholz Knudsen

Mail: mbk@ece.au.dk

Tel: +45 2174 5355