Ideas! | Credit: Usisipho

Master’s thesis: one week in

Recently I shared some tips about finding a master’s thesis as a student in Sweden and also mentioned that I would be starting mine soon. Well, last week I started my own thesis and it’s been an interesting week!

About Challenge Lab

After searching for a thesis, I’m doing my thesis at the Challenge Lab! It’s a thesis “lab” based at Chalmers, with links to Johanneberg Science Park. The focus area of the lab is sustainability transitions. Students from various master’s programs (from economics to industrial ecology) work together with stakeholders from industry, the public sector and academia to work towards a sustainable future.

Why here?

I’ve always been interested in sustainability! It guided my choice of elective courses during my bachelor’s degree, my first job, as well as choice of master’s program. So, getting to do a thesis focused on this is very exciting! I also took a course in a previous study period related to the lab, where we studied how to work with stakeholders in a sustainability context. That course felt like a introduction for this kind of thesis.

What I’ll be doing

One of the things I really like about this thesis is that there are no set topics. There are three themes – mobility, food, and energy/resource/materials. Within these themes, you are free to develop your own topic – based on the initial phase of the lab, your interests, expertise, and master’s program.

The initial phase (the first few weeks) consists of lectures, stakeholder dialogues, and workshop-type activities. This gives the students some of the background knowledge required for writing the thesis. During this time, there’s also a lot of group work, helping us get to know each other better.

Ideas! | Credit: Usisipho

Differences to studying

The thesis experience can differ a lot depending on what kind of thesis you choose to do! If you do it on campus, it can feel somewhat similar to your normal studies – though with more flexibility. Doing a thesis at a company generally feels a lot more like normal job – fixed working hours in an office, and quite a set topic usually.

Challenge Lab feels like something of a mixture. As mentioned, the first few weeks are according to a schedule. However, the tasks (workshops, interviews) are quite atypical for engineering education! There’s a big focus on framing the issues correctly, and spending lots of time mapping and understanding the current situation. This is in contrast to the more common approach of simply trying to solve the problem as quickly as possible.

It’s quite refreshing to work with a different, more creative approach. Post-its are quickly becoming my best friend!

What’s next?

Soon, I’ll narrow in on a specific topic and research question! Then it’s time to interview relevant stakeholders, gather some data, think, and write, write, write!

View while walking home from the lab | Credit: Usisipho

Have any questions about master’s thesis? Leave a comment below!

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