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All over the world, large economic value is being created by embedding computing components into a wide range of novel applications. Compelling examples of these applications include adaptive power grids, smart homes, intelligent transportation systems, robotics, personalized healthcare systems, and sensor networks. Creating such applications requires orchestrating the cooperation between software and hardware; different types of sensors and actuators; the rest of physical components of the system; as well as the surrounding physical environment. Success in orchestrating cooperation depends heavily on wired and/or wireless networks that enable communication between hardware and software services as well as with other embedded systems. When intelligence techniques can be used to achieve autonomy of embedded systems then functionality, reliability, and, in turn, economic value is significantly increased. Intelligence techniques are the computing aspect that distinguishes, for example, a remote-controlled robot from a robot that can be safely left home alone to serve as a caretaker for a child or an elderly person. Similarly, in a smart-home healthcare application enabling technologies like sensors and low-power wireless communication are needed, but it must also include system solutions and algorithms to take intelligent decisions based on the sensor data to be able to assist the user.
The goal of the industrial graduate school, named Embedded and Intelligent Systems Industrial Graduate School (EISIGS), is to provide the right environment for producing qualified, independent researchers (PhDs) that understand, advance, and champion embedded and intelligent systems research. This goal is aligned with the largest research environment at the Halmstad University, Halmstad Embedded and Intelligent Systems Research (EIS) as well as with the University’s major research initiative, Research for Innovation, with long-term funding from The Knowledge Foundation. Funding for the school itself is from the Knowledge Foundation complemented by funding from industrial partners as well as from Halmstad University.
The EIS research environment provides knowledge (solutions, theories, methods, tools) relevant to the creation of innovative IT products and services, ranging from enabling technologies, via systems solutions and applications, to valuable IT use. By this, EIS contributes to increased competitiveness of Swedish industry. The coverage of EIS is visualized in Figure 1. The collective expertise of the faculty and researchers in EIS makes it an attractive partner for industry and deal with projects ranging all the way from enabling technologies to valued-adding IT applications. Rather than covering everything, the focus of EIS is on cooperating embedded systems for intelligent applications.
The fact that EIS covers the whole range from enabling technologies to value-adding IT use, makes the graduate school and the research environment especially attractive for industrial partners. This is motivated by the following examples. In a smart-home healthcare application enabling technologies like sensors and low-power wireless communication are needed, but it must also include system solutions and algorithms to take intelligent decisions based on the sensor data to be able to assist the user. The industrial graduate school aims to give its PhD students both a holistic perspective as exemplified above and in-depth knowledge in a specific field.
In contrast to traditional graduate programs in science and technology, the school place special emphasis on the larger context wherein technical expertise is applied to produce commercially successful innovations. In particular, recognizing the importance of a firm’s ability to innovate and transform innovation to new business opportunities, emphasis on innovation pervades the entire school’s program. We believe that this emphasis will produce a new breed of researchers that can recognize, utilize and develop the innovation potential of an industrial context. To realize the emphasis on innovation, the graduate school is managed and run in cooperation with researchers in Halmstad University’s Center for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Learning (CIEL).
The proposed Industrial Research School aims to recruit talented PhD candidates attracted by and with an interest not only in their own research but also in the broader economic and industrial context for this research. This encompasses factors such as the cost and impact of their research, research planning, the influence of other research efforts in a broader perspective, recruitment and effective management and leadership in today’s highly dynamic and collaborative workplace as well as innovation and entrepreneurship issues including how to get their work to be recognized and have impact also in large industrial organizations. These future industrial researchers must be able to combine flexibility, team work skills and personal integrity. They must be creative and flexible and still be able to adapt and follow scientific rigor and principles when working in dynamic and sometimes stressing project contexts where many employees’ and also other organizations’ different results to a very high degree needs to be combined and thus depend on each other. The creation of innovative products and processes requires a kind of researchers that can do their work and contribute in development processes where many people with different roles, such as: managers, researchers, engineers, end users, market or sales representatives all participate and contribute.
The industrial impact comes through attracting, supporting and shaping economically aware, creative and yet rigorous industrial researchers with a sense for industrial innovation. To achieve this goal the candidates besides extended technical skills need to get good skills in research methodology with an added emphasis in issues such as R&D planning, patent search and IP protection, experiment planning, innovation and entrepreneurship processes, what to learn from and how to protect ideas and solutions with patents etc. It is in this context expected and planned for those product/system managers, research managers, experts and experienced researchers from the participating industries contribute in courses related to R&D and innovation management related topics.
Of course to be examined as an industrial researcher the research results made during the PhD education must still fulfil the same standards and be accepted by their academic peers and thus be presented in relevant high-standard conference and journal papers. Moreover, as motivated above, the area of Embedded and Intelligent Systems is of high importance for the industry.
To summarize, the objectives for the industrial graduate school are: