Department of Mechanical Engineering

Technical training of naval officers


The training programme for naval engineers was prepared separately according to a proposal made by the commander of the Finnish Navy in the spring of 1924. The differences between requirements posed by the mechanical engineering programme and other programmes attended by technical officers were cause for some deliberation.

A committee set up by Hjelmman and Dillström noted that in training naval engineering officers, the great powers rarely made a distinction between mechanical engineering and other disciplines. However, Finland could not afford to set up a specialised institution to train naval engineering officers and as a result they were to be educated within the boundaries set by the course offering of the Helsinki University of Technology. Mechanical engineering officers were thus educated separately as part of the mechanical engineering programme. As tuition for those seconded to study was paid through a grant system, a condition was attached to the proposal requiring trained engineering officers to remain on the naval service for a period equal to one and a half times the time spent on their studies. The training of naval officers began in the autumn of 1925.

The top of the Military Academy's 1929 naval defence course was Jaakko Rahola. He completed naval engineering courses after graduating from the Mechanical Engineering Department of the Helsinki University of Technology with a degree in mechanical engineering. Initially, Rahola worked for the Navy as a shipbuilding engineer and was appointed chief of the naval headquarters' construction bureau in 1933. Rahola oversaw the creation of numerous new ship designs over 1920s and 1930s, including the Navy's cutting-edge submarines and armoured surface ships. It was during this period of work that the idea crystallised for a study into the stability of ships, which Rahola would conduct and compile as his doctoral dissertation during the grace period following his selection as professor of shipbuilding at the end of the decade. Completed in April 1939, the study would define his theory on ship stability, known and recognised internationally as the Rahola Criterion.

During the 1920s and 1930s, Rahola was responsible for designing more than a dozen new types of vessels, including the naval's state-of-the-art submarines and armored vessels. In connection with this work, the idea of ​​a study related to the issue of ship stability was completed, which Rahola could carry out at the end of the decade as a dissertation completed during the respite search for a professorship in shipbuilding.

A study completed in April 1939 defined an internationally recognised theory of severity, known as the Rahola criterion.

Jaakko Rahola served as the rector of the Helsinki University of Technology from 1956 to 1964.

Eero Rahola, the brother of Jaakko Rahola, served as an admiral of the Finnish Navy in the 1930s. When the Navy's started its modernisation programme, the design process for new ships was smoothly embedded into ship design education at the Helsinki University of Technology. As a result, the coastal defence ships Väinämöinen and Ilmarinen were partly designed by students.

History of mechanical engineering in Finland

Department of Mechanical Engineering
Department of Mechanical Engineering
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