Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis

Student testimonial: Joanna Simms

Mathematics & Operations Research master's student Joanna Simms tells us about her experiences studying at Aalto
Joanna Simms

Why did you choose to study at Aalto?

I chose to study at Aalto University after doing my undergraduate studies in mathematics and music as I wanted to have a more applied approach to studying mathematics. Having studied at the University of Helsinki as an exchange student, I'd heard that Aalto University was a vibrant and admired place to study. The sheer amount of cross-curricular and industry-related experiences that Aalto offers especially called to me, as these opportunities smoothly transition into the workplace.

How did you decide which programme to choose?

As my interests lie in modelling real-life situations, I view “operations research” as an easily employable version of this. Applying to Aalto University also has the advantage of being able to move between the three mathematics programs easily, depending on your interest. There are also so many minor and elective credits that it is possible to take credits in areas that can really broaden your knowledge set, and ultimately make you more employable.

Do you have a place in the campus/capital area that you really enjoy and spending time at?

The Aalto library and learning centre is a calm place to study with louder and quieter areas depending on what you need, private meeting rooms for group work, and a café. This is a trait of the Helsinki area’s libraries, which are all amazing and versatile places to study. Aalto is located by a coastal nature walk, which is beautiful to look at and watch birds from the stations in your lunch hour. Finnish cities generally are littered with small forests and nice parks. Another advantage is the ease of getting to central Helsinki via the public transport, meaning that you can enjoy the nightlife there – in my case social dancing and folk music meetups.

Could you describe your regular day as a Mathematics student

As a mathematics student, we sadly don’t get to use any of the fancy machines they have in the other departments, but we do get to code. Through our models, we do get hands-on experience at real-life projects – such as optimising energy grids, ecological decisions and even being able to choose our own datasets for our coursework. When I am not in an average of one lecture a day or eating lunch in one of the cheap student cafés, I will either spend my time in the learning centre or in the computer rooms, which are located in the mathematics building. The touch screen computer rooms which either Linux or Windows operating systems really help me in my studies with their fast running times and up to date technology and onedrive installed, meaning that I don’t have to rely on my older laptop to run my code, but also giving us a chance to work remotely with files available on a cloud.

Was it easy to settle here?

The introduction to student life at the beginning of the year was amazing – I felt very included and was given a guide group of fellow coursemates that showed us around, took us to the introductory lectures and organised socials. It was definitely a warm welcome to studying at Aalto and an important introduction for someone who had just moved country to be surrounded by friendly people and fun activities.

Aalto University / students doing teamwork / photo by Unto Rautio

Master's Programme in Mathematics and Operations Research

The unparalleled problem-solving power and predictive capability of mathematics and statistics enable profound and sustainable solutions to even the most complex problems. The Master's Programme in Mathematics and Operations Research educates top mathematical problem solvers with strong analytical skills and explicit knowledge of logical reasoning. Graduates from the programme typically land in specialist and management roles in international companies and organisations, or continue with doctoral studies at Aalto and other prominent universities.

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