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If I might not continue in academia or if I am actually sure I will not pursue an academic career which other career paths would be interesting for me? Which companies would be relevant and would my competences be relevant for them? These are some of the questions that many PhDs and Postdocs are asking themselves and these questions are the reason for Science for Society and its activities.

Monday the 8th of February a delegation of international PhDs from a broad range of countries – Italy, the Netherlands, Rumania, Ukraine and China – met up at the company Trackunit. Wednesday the 14th of March a group of PhDs representing and even broader range of countries – Turkey, Iran, China, Malaysia, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, Nigeria, Ukraine – went to Aalborg Portland.

At Trackunit the delegation met with CTO, Mikkel Dalgas, Senior Product Manager, Heini Hoff Brøndum, and Data Science and Data Engineering Lead, Søren Bach Christiansen. At Aalborg Portland the delegation was received by the Manager of the Research and Quality Center, Ingrid Ahrenkilde, Research and Product Quality Specialist, Zhuo Dai (who as the participants of the company visit has a PhD background), and HR Partner, Svend Pedersen. Finally yet importantly, the delegation met Aalborg Portland “Grand Old Man”, Bent Ole Borup, who has been in the company since 1969. He told a bit on the company´s story and some facts as well. 

close contact with the real world and great pitching possibility

At Trackunit the participants got an introduction to the company and its areas of growth where Trackunit now and in the future will be in need of new capacities and specialized knowledge. This led to many good dialogues between the PhDs and the company’s representatives. Some of the participating PhDs also took the chance to pitch their own research to to Trackunit and their PhD colleagues. 

Zhongxu Wang, an AAU PhD fellow from China doing his research in the Department of Energy Technology, says about the visit to Trackunit: 

It was a great experience to have this chance to have close contact with the real world, the industry, which I would like to switch into after my PhD-graduation. So for my it was good to get an idea about what the company focuses on, what the company really needs, and hence what I should focus more on in the future”.

Zhongxu Wang also took the chance to pitch his research to the Trackunit-team, which for him was a great opportunity:

The best part was the “pitching possibility” where I could have a talk and share my own research contents and focuses with the representative from the industry to see whether it is “worthwhile and practical” or not from the industry’s point of view”. 

Mikkel Dalgas, CTO at Trackunit, also thinks that the event was a good experience and that meeting the AAU PhDs was interesting. He says:

I had a very good morning with the visiting group of AAU PhDs. It was interesting to get a little bit of insight in some of their fields of research and very nice to experience their interest in Trackunit and in the industry in general”.

valuable Insight in danish working environment

At Aalborg Portland the delegation was introduced to the company, its production and suggestions of where the specialized backgrounds of PhDs could fit in. It led to many interesting questions for the presenters and a good dialogue. After the presentations Bent Ole Borup spent 1,5 hours in “the field” giving the participants “le grand tour” at the plant where they got to see both the control room, the testing robots, the machinery in the gravel pit and the view of Aalborg City from the top of the silo. At the same time, Bent Ole Borup informed everyone thoroughly on production methods, staff functions, temperatures in the silo – among others things – and took his time to engage in talks with the participants.  

Tannaz Harandi, an AAU PhD fellow from Iran doing her research in the Department of Mechanical and Manufactural Engineering, says about the visit to Aalborg Portland:

The company visit was really fascinating for me because it was my first time to visit such a big factory. The most interesting part for me was the control systems and the testing robots”. 

Tannaz Harandi also found it nice and interesting to get to meet and talk to the staff: 

They were all very friendly and intimate and I think this is really important for the working environment. In a way, I think the most important part for me was getting more familiar with working environment in Denmark and get to see how great it could be to work here. All together it was a really nice event for me”.

Ingrid Ahrenkilde, the Manager of the Research and Quality Center, found it equally interesting to be part of the event:

It was a great event and nice that so many found it interesting to participate. For Aalborg Portland as a company it is always relevant and interesting to be in contact with the universities and – in this case – PhDs from many different backgrounds”. 


In the Science for Society Project new events with presenters from the private and public sector or presenters who have become entrepreneurs as well as company visits are continuously planned. Find the current events here. If you have suggestions for whom we should invite or a company, that you would really like to visit, please let us know. Contact Ulla Egidiussen Egekvist at uege@adm.aau.dk.