Department of Mechanical Engineering

Teaching of aviation technology in Finland during the interwar years


Education in the field of aviation technology began in Helsinki in 1927 with a special course organised outside the standard curriculum, set up using funding from the Ministry of Defence. The course included lectures on aerodynamics, aerology and motor technology by Professor Tallqvist and Major Karsten in the spring, with further ones in the autumn on construction and material engineering. Ten defence personnel attended the course alongside three coastal artillery engineers and five Helsinki University of Technology students nearing the end of their studies. 

Some of the lectures were held by Professor Georg Madelung, a specialist in aviation technology from the mechanical engineering department of the Technical University of Berlin in Charlottenburg. He was known for his monoplane, all-metal aircraft designs originating from the First World War. In the 1920s, he had worked as an aviation engineer with the Junkers company in its research facilities across Germany and the United States as well as the Glenn L. Martin Company.

The first initiative to launch aviation technology education at HUT came from Rector A.L. Hjelmman in his speech inaugurating the 1934 academic. year. From the very beginning, the project was a joint venture between HUT and the state aircraft factory (Valtion lentokonetehdas). The need for education in the field was justified with the growing costs of education abroad, the need to develop indigenous designs for aircraft suited to Finland’s needs and an effort to increase the use of Finnish raw materials in the new industry. 

Formal teaching was delayed for a few years as the professor's position remained vacant due to the lack of qualified candidates. Teaching in aviation technology began as soon as Arvo Ylinen was able to complete his doctoral studies and publish his dissertation Die Knickfestigkeit eines zentrisch gedrückten geraden states im elastischen und unelastischen bereich in November 1938.

Ylinen was instructed to begin teaching the brand-new subject on 1 October 1939, but he did not have time to get started before the outbreak of the Winter War. He was then formally appointed HUT's professor of aviation technology on 1 September 1940. 

History of mechanical engineering in Finland

Department of Mechanical Engineering
Department of Mechanical Engineering
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