PhD Summer School on Megaproject Management

Illustration: Femern A/S

FEMERN A/S - DTU PhD Summer School on Mega Projects

Together with Femern A/S, DTU invites talented PhD students to join our summer school on Mega Project Management for Sustainable Infrastructure.

When: January 26th & 27th and April 25th & 26th.


Why do we do it?

Megaprojects are at the core of the green transition

The successful execution of megaprojects is at the core of making our green transition goals a reality. Executing those large infrastructure projects – from electricity to smart cities to transportation – has never been more challenging, nor more important. We are therefore experiencing a paradigm shift in large construction projects: Today, the expectations are no longer 'only' to deliver on time and on budget, but also against a (rightfully so) increasingly ambitious sustainability agenda. At the same time, while we have significant success with some megaprojects, overall our ability to deliver megaprojects requires significant attention and development. This is not a challenge for a single company or industry, but in fact, a challenge for society: It requires that private actors in the construction industry, public actors in the policy space and the banking and insurance sector innovate in the ways that they work – together.

"Just" predicting and planning is no longer good enough

While the expectations regarding "on time" and "on budget" delivery increase, what we build is part of our society's critical infrastructure for decades – and often for centuries – to come. This requires our infrastructure not only to be exceptionally resilient against foreseen and as-yet unexperienced disruptions due to climate change, but also adaptable and expandable: We can barely foresee our needs 5 or 10 years from now, let alone 20 or 30 years into the future. This has led to an ever-increasing level of complexity in construction projects. We have reached a threshold where we need to rethink our engineering and project management practices to address those challenges adequately. The truth is that failure is not an option: We do not (re-)build our critical infrastructure for fun, nor can we fail to deliver on a green transformation agenda.

Innovation in engineering, project management, and investment practices to rethink megaproject management for the green transition

This requires us to rethink megaproject management. The overarching question is: How do we lead the professionalization of a multi-industry stakeholder network? The standards that owner organizations set regarding their own professionalism, the level of training and education at all levels in their own and their contractors' organization, their willingness to take leadership roles both towards policymakers and regulators, as well as towards their contractor base with their strong economic realities – these are all factors where owner organization can take leadership positions – or accept a vacuum.

To this end, we have established a PhD Summer (and winter) School between Femern A/S and DTU.

Femern A/S designed, is currently building and will operate the Fehmarnbelt tunnel. Denmark's largest infrastructure project (€ 7.4B) and the world's longest immersed tunnel (18 km) when it is completed in 2029. Check out the recent video of the project here

Why should you attend?

As a participating PhD student, you will

  • Get access to a world-class megaproject management organization for an empirical, implementation-focused research engagement (e.g. a validation case study)
  • Train to articulate your findings and ideas for a practitioner audience.
  • Improve your empirical research skills through lectures and assignments.
  • Generate concepts and material for future publications.

In exchange, we expect you to contribute by:

  • Submission of a "pitch "statement regarding the relevance of your research findings for application in megaproject management
  • Participation in two in-person meetings in Denmark of 2-3 days each
  • Active research engagement during the 4 months between the PhD School meetings.
  • Preparation of joint final deliverable with other participants (for example, a newspaper article or the development of a data warehouse)

How is it organized?

We organize the PhD school over two modules together with Femern, where you as the researcher, is connected to real-life challenges of sustainable infrastructure delivery with Femern as the case.

Module 1: Framing and matchmaking – January 26-27, 2023

During the first module, we frame the idea of the summer school, introduce cross-cutting challenges and topics of sustainable infrastructure delivery and match industry needs (and contact persons and available data) with research interests (PhD students). We envision the following tentative program:

The day

Framing & Matchmaking day

Training day


Femern (Lolland)

Femern (Lolland)


  • Welcome
  • Framing by DTU researchers & Femern practitioners
  • Client and industry presentations with a focus on core challenges

Talks and workshops on implementation-focused project research activities (DTU, CBS, and others) – Part 1


  • Matchmaking PhD students and organization, with scoping workshops, data access and core challenges
  • Definition of preliminary engagement plan
  • Site visit (incl. presentations)

Talks and workshops on implementation-focused project research activities (DTU, CBS, and others) – Part 2


Wrap up with review of the engagement plan


Dinner at Lolland

Transport to CPH

Between Module 1 and 2, your contact person(s) at Femern will be available to support your research activities. This is the project component of the PhD School.

Module 2: Reporting and discussing – April 25-26, 2023

During the second module, you will report your research findings on the core challenges identified in module 1. Module 2 is organized over two days targeting client and industry challenges. Each day features a keynote by an international thought leader/researcher and relevant PhD student presentations. In the "leadership day", the focus is on the role of the client, including topics like impact assessment, societal business cases, market/tendering strategies, governance, de-risking investments, etc. In the second "Industry day", the focus is on the delivery team, covering topics like stakeholder engagement, risk management, modularization, off-site manufacturing, logistics etc. An open industry event concludes the second day and the summer school with short, curated presentations and a panel debate with central stakeholders. We involve international thought leaders, main actors from the Femern program, and relevant DTU researchers in lectures, presentations, and workshops throughout the days. We envision the following tentative program:

The day

Leadership day

Industry day






International keynote

Presentation of Femern engagement research results

International keynote


DTU lectures

Workshop on joint deliverable

DTU lectures, participant presentations and workshops


Femern keynote

Open industry event "Sustainable infrastructure delivery"


Dinner in Copenhagen


How many ETCS points will I earn?

The summer school will be connected to a PhD course that will give you 5 ETCS points.

How much will it cost?

You are expected to cover your travel costs to/from Copenhagen and your accommodation during the two modules. Femern A/S and DTU will cover all expenses associated with the PhD School.

Where to apply?

If you want to sign up for this unique PhD course, you apply by emailing As we run the course for the first time, we only have limited spaces available. To match your profile with the research topics, please include:

  • A short letter of motivation (1-2 pages), outlining your research interests in general, and your interest(s) in working with Femern A/S in particular
  • Your CV, including list of publications

Who is behind this?

Femern A/S is a 100 percent state-owned project company under Sund & Bælt. In April 2009, Femern A/S was appointed by the Minister of Transport to undertake preparations, studies and the planning of a fixed link across the Fehmarnbelt. As a client organization, Femern A/S has around 160 employees working from our offices in Copenhagen, Rødbyhavn, Hamburg, Burg and Puttgarden. Femern A/S is a subsidiary of the Danish and state-owned Sund & Bælt.

DTU Management conducts excellent research in the intersection between management, technology and economics. We develop solutions in close cooperation with companies and public authorities. Our research aims at strengthening welfare, productivity and sustainability within the society. A key element is the role of technology and its interaction with industry and individuals. The department offers a wide range of courses and programs at bachelor, master and PhD level across DTU's study programs. The department has around 200 employees, 50% coming from abroad. You can read more about "the Department" at

Christian Thuesen, Technical University of Denmark
Associate Professor in project and construction management at the Department of Technology, Management and Economics (Division for Management Science) and a recent Fulbright scholar at UC Berkeley and Stanford. He has worked with projects for over 20 years as a lecturer, researcher, and consultant in various engineering settings, including construction and IT. This has sparked his fundamental research interest in the role of projects as vehicles for industrial and societal change and, more broadly, projects as part of today's society – as a human condition. To pursue this agenda, he co-founded DTUs ProjectLab (, which he currently directs. His current research develops a research agenda on transforming the construction industry towards sustainability, leveraging developing digital capabilities.

Josef Oehmen, Technical University of Denmark
Josef Oehmen, Ph.D., MBA, is an Associate Professor at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). His research focuses on designing and managing large-scale (systems) engineering programs, especially on how to deal with risk, uncertainty and ignorance. He is the founder and coordinator of the Engineering Systems RiskLab at DTU ( Prior to DTU, Josef worked at MIT and ETH Zurich (where he also obtained his PhD). Josef's current research focuses on developing and implementing paradigm-shifting risk management techniques in the design, construction and operation of Engineering Systems. He brings a design and risk management perspective to improving how we collaborate in project management and systems engineering. He works on advanced (non probabilistic and ML-based) risk quantification methods, principles of resilient engineering and project execution, lean risk management, and risk-informed leadership in engineering organizations.