The Aalto University Summer School course Nordic Biomaterials in collaboration with CHEMARTS gathered students from Sweden, the USA, Germany, Norway and Belgium for a summer course on campus for the first time since the pandemic.
Field of study:
In the coming years, our material world will change dramatically. The overuse of existing raw materials cannot continue and global consumption must decrease. However, our need for materials will not disappear: also in the future, materials will come to nurture us, cover us, comfort us, delight us, as well as keep us alive. This means that we need many new ideas, collaboration across all borders and hard work to replace our existing material systems and consumption habits with more sustainable ones.
If used wisely, wood- and plant-based materials offer one possible pathway towards a more sustainable material world: they come from renewable sources, can be modified on a chemical level, and can be used for recyclable or biodegradable products.
Nordic Biomaterials by CHEMARTS (CHEM-E0165) inspires students to combine design and material science for new cellulose-driven concepts and ideas. Combining natural materials with advanced technologies offer new possibilities for sustainable development within existing and emerging industries.
This graduate-level course teaches students with varying backgrounds (design, science, engineering, business) to combine design with material research. It introduces a broad spectrum of biomaterials, especially wood-and plant-based. During the course, students familiarise themselves with practice-based material research, experience how interdisciplinary material research happens in practice, and explore how raw materials could be turned into innovative business ideas in the context of circular economy.
The course includes three phases: self-paced pre-work including Laboratory Safety course, two intensive workshop weeks and an individual post-work assignment.
31 July - 4 August: Pre-work (online)
- Optional kick-off meeting
- Self-paced course orientation
- Laboratory Safety course
7-18 August: Intensive weeks (on-campus)
- Daily program 9-17, including lectures, discussions, guided experiments, project development, hands-on experimentation in pairs/teams/individually (detailed program to be shared later)
- One-day excursion
- Joint presentation event and feedback discussion
by 31 August: Post-work (online)
- Report including documentation of the research process, individual reflection on key takeaways and course experience.
- Optional joint feedback session
- Familiarize with materials that are processed either chemically or mechanically from trees or other plants, such as cellulose fibres, fibrils (micro- or nano-structured), lignin, bark extractives and novel combinations of these
- The ability to develop innovative ideas through hands-on prototyping and experimenting with materials
- Awareness of the main sustainability issues related to this field
- Understand the principles of scaling the ideas towards innovations and even commercialisation
- Experience of an interdisciplinary working environment in practice
Workload and grading
The total course workload of 160h (6 ECTS) is divided as follows:
- 25h Self-paced orientation and Laboratory Safety course
- 25h Lectures, discussions and presentation
- 40h Class preparation and reflection
- 35h Laboratory work
- 10h Excursion
- 25h Post-work assignment
The course is graded pass/fail.
The passing of the course requires active participation individually and in teamwork, and a report of the working process.
The course accepts applications from exchange students, Aalto degree students and professionals and other lifelong learners. The minimum requirement is a finished Bachelor's degree.
Prepare to attach the following to your application:
- CV or LinkedIn profile
- Motivation letter. Length 1 A4, max. 500 words.
The tuition fee for external students is 1600€ (including VAT 24%). The tuition fee is to be paid by credit card or a Finnish online bank. If the fee is not paid by the due date, the application will be considered lapsed.
No tuition fee for:
- Nominated exchange students from a partner institution of Aalto University School of Chemical Engineering
- Aalto degree students
Reduced tuition fee (-30%):
- Students from partner institutions of Aalto University. Please prepare to prove your student status with a study transcript after submitting your application and before paying the tuition fee.
The programme fee for all students except Aalto degree students is 300€ (including VAT 24%). The programme fee is to be paid by credit card or a Finnish online bank.
The programme fee includes:
- Course trips
- Professional portfolio photography of your coursework
- Summer School social programme
In the case of cancellation:
- If Aalto University cancels the course or program: 100% refund of tuition fee and programme fee
- Cancelling up to 60 days before the beginning of the course: 85% refund of tuition fee and programme fee (Aalto University will deduct 15% of each course fee as a service and bank cost fee)
- Cancelling up to 30 days before the beginning of the course: 50% refund of tuition fee and programme fee
- Cancelling less than 30 days before the beginning of the course: no refund of tuition fee or programme fee
What is CHEMARTS?
CHEMARTS is a long-term strategic collaboration between two Aalto University schools, the School of Chemical Engineering (CHEM) and the School of Arts, Design and Architecture (ARTS). The schools merged their forces with the aim to invent new ways to harness wood and cellulose. The idea is to research the performance and design of advanced cellulosic materials for innovative uses.
The main objective is to inspire students and researchers to explore biomaterials together and to create new concepts for the future use of cellulose and other biomaterials.
‘The best part of this course was we were able to get practical knowledge about biomaterial practicalities as well as exploring a sustainable mindset and learn about sustainable entrepreneurship. Moreover, we could test our ideas in the laboratory with different biomaterials and tools.
We had various guest speakers from several different industries, such as the forest industry, entrepreneurs, investors and artists. We got the opportunity to ask questions and discuss with them – some of my classmates even got to pitch their ideas.’
Mariko Yoshida, master student at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture and alumna from this summer’s Nordic Biomaterials course.
In the coming years, our material world will change dramatically. The overuse of existing raw materials cannot continue, and global consumption must decrease.
Summer School Alum Story: "Nordic Biomaterials is ideal for getting inspiration and new ideas for projects"
Nordic Biomaterials by CHEMARTS inspires students to combine design and material science for new cellulose-driven concepts and ideas.