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Innovation and Creativity for Complex Engineering Systems (ICCES) (2014)

Name of course: Innovation and Creativity for Complex Engineering Systems (ICCES) (ERASMUS Intensive Programme in Portugal)

ECTS credits: 5 ECTS

Course parameters:

Language: English

Level of course: PhD course, financially supported as an ERASMUS Intensive Programme

Time of year: Summer 2014

No. of contact hours: 37 hours per week in three weeks

Capacity limits: 3 PhD students from Aarhus University

Objectives of the course:

This course aims to prepare PhD students to use their technical, scientific and research skills in industry, namely to train them on how to tackle complex engineering problems in an industrial context in an innovative and research-oriented perspective. Students, organised in multi-disciplinary teams, are expected to propose a research plan that appropriately tackles a given problem, concerning both a scientific perspective and an industrial point of view. 

PhD students will be confronted with real (and complex) engineering problems owned by the industrial partner that belongs to this initiative, acting as the local host for the actual delivery of this course.  The students can benefit from participating in this course in two different ways. Firstly, students may use the real problems proposed during the course as part of their PhD plan. This is not generically straightforward to achieve but may be possible in some specific situations that need to be carefully analysed afterwards with the company and the student’s supervisor. Secondly, the students become more aware of the problems in industry and will be better skilled to face similar contexts when they finish their PhDs and are hired by an industrial company, instead of simply aiming for a full academic career. Additionally, the course is intended to strengthen the interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and multicultural collaboration skills for the students with distinct technical backgrounds.

Learning outcomes and competences:

After completion of this course, students are expected to be prepared to tackle and solve complex engineering problems in industry. In particular, they will have strong competences in these three areas:

(1) Work within multidisciplinary teams, to promote creativity and innovation

(2) Adopt techniques like abstraction, modelling and simulation to manage complexity 

(3) Prepare applied research plans, to support a policy for patents and industrial property and to sustain industry development

Compulsory programme:

Active participation and group work with multidisciplinary composition with a mandatory “problem-based-learning” assignment.

Course contents:

It is expected that the PhD students taking this course will be much better prepared for the challenges that they will face if they are hired in the future by an industrial company.

The industrial participants in this initiative will be better prepared to realise how PhD graduates can be integrated in their system development process, mainly in the innovative and creativity tasks that may benefit from their research skills.

The academic partners will be able to gain experience from the real needs of the industry so that their doctoral programmes can incorporate the development of industry-relevant skills. This experience will allow the production of publications that may influence the way European universities may deal with the employment of their PhD students and, consequently, the sustainable development of the European economy.

As deliverables of each edition of the ICCES Programme, there are:

  • applied research plans written by the students for the considered engineering problems
  • position papers written by the students to explain their research plans to the scientific community
  • simulations and presentations by the students about their research plans.


The course welcomes PhD students in engineering and technology, especially in the fields of electrical and electronics engineering, control, mechanics and materials engineering, industrial and systems engineering, computer science, dependability, informatics and information systems engineering. Preferably, a participating student should be at least in the end of the first year of her/his PhD programme with the thesis proposal already elaborated and being under development.

Name of lecturer[s]:  Joao Miguel Fernandes et al.

Type of course/teaching methods:

During this course, PhD students will be confronted with real (and complex) engineering problems owned by the industrial partner acting as the local host of the delivery of this course. The students, organised in multi-disciplinary teams, are expected to propose a research plan that adequately tackles a given problem with both a scientific perspective and a business/market one. The plan must include issues like intellectual property rights, patents, industrial innovation, funding for innovation projects, market needs, research collaborations, publication of industrial case studies and demonstration cases, etc.

Literature: None

Course homepage:

Course assessment:

A project report and a group presentation about the assignment worked on during the 3 weeks.


Department of Engineering, Aarhus University, University of UMinho and other ERASMUS partners.

Special comments on this course:

The ERASMUS IP will cover airline tickets and transportation costs (up to EUR 300).

The industrial partner in 2014 is Bosch.


17 June to 4 July 2014. Students will arrive to Braga, Portugal on 16 June 2014.


Bosch’s facilities in Braga, Portugal.


Deadline for an application is 11 March 2014. Information regarding admission will be sent out by the end of March.

You apply for the course by sending an application in English to Professor Peter Gorm Larsen, email: The application must include a CV with a clear indication of the areas/topics of your PhD thesis and a motivation letter explaining why you want to participate in the programme. 

If you have any questions, please contact PhD coordinator Mette Stig Hansen, email:  

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Revised 20.06.2016