Skvader. Photo credit: Fornminnesföreningen i MedelpadIn a debate in the Swedish parliament, one member compares the economics-engineering programme to a skvader, a fictitious Swedish animal with the front of a hare and the back of a wood grouse. “Whatever you say about this oddity, nothing good will come from it.” Another member quotes an editorial in an engineering magazine: the programme will be “neither chalk nor cheese”.
However the bill passes and when the new technical college opens in 1969, the economics-engineering programme has 50 first-year places. Now the students and teachers in Linköping have to prove that yes, something good will come from the programme.
And they do. Industrial Engineering and Management, as it is later called in English, becomes one of the most sought-after engineering programmes in Sweden. Several other universities follow LiU’s lead, and start up similar programmes. It even gets the nickname “the executive programme”, because so many graduates reach senior positions in the private sector.
And for Linköping University, Industrial Engineering and Management is one of many examples of how innovative study programmes develop expertise that is in demand in the labour market.