Last Tuesday, Åsa Cajander and I attended the defense of Jean Hallewell Haslwanter’s excellent doctoral thesis. Her work digs into the issues development teams encounter when designing sensor-based monitoring systems aimed at older people, and she uses the problems she identifies to formulate recommendations for both development teams and funding agencies. As such, it is a very relevant read for anybody directly or indirectly working with design and software development projects, even if those are based on other types of technologies.
The defense took place in central Vienna, at the Institute for design and assessment of technology of the Technische Universität Wien (TU Wien). Åsa was one of the thesis’ two examiners, along with Klaus Miesenberger (Johannes Kepler University Linz). Interestingly, the defense proceedings were a bit different from the routines I have seen so far in Sweden. The event was quite short (about 1 ½ hour against the 2 ½ – 3 hours I was accustomed to), and no opponent had been called in. Instead, Jean presented her work during the first 45 minutes – she did a really great job, giving a very concise but clear and to-the-point overview of her research – after which the members of the examination committee and Jean’s supervisor, Geraldine Fitzpatrick, proceeded to ask her some questions. Finally, following the committee’s deliberation session, Jean went back into the room alone to get the notice of the successful outcome of the defense, while this generally takes place in public in Sweden.
The lovely post-defense celebration led to very fruitful exchanges of ideas (at least from my perspective, since I received some very good research tips from Toni Michel!), and I was very happy I had made the trip to Vienna – in spite of the cumulated 4 ½ hours of flight it required! It was a real pleasure to meet Jean and her colleagues, and I very much enjoyed the experience!