Department of Mechanical Engineering

The first professors of the Department of Mechanical Engineering

When the Polytechnic Institute was reformed into the Technical University of Finland, its teachers were granted the title of professor. Meanwhile, new teachers were being recruited to in anticipation of growing demand for education.

Twenty professorships were open when the Technical University of Finland began operations in 1908. Six of these were in the Department of Mechanical Engineering:

  • Two professors of mechanical engineering
  • Two professors of mechanical technology
  • Two professors of electrical engineering

Engineer Karl Axel Mauritz Ahlfors was appointed to the first of the mechanical engineering professorships, focused on turbines. Gustaf Emil Saraoja was chosen for the second on a temporary basis, before Ernst Tuckermann, Dr.Eng., was invited to the position in 1911 for a five-year period. However, Tuckermann had to leave the country in 1914 due to the outbreak of World War I. Harald Kyrlund was named as his replacement.

Anton Uno Albrecht was the first professor of mechanical technology. The second was not filled until 1911 and the appointment of Axel Werner Gardberg, specialising in textile technology.

Johannes Sohlman was appointed professor of electrical engineering and given a waiver from teaching in Finnish. Aukusti Mikko Heikinheimo was charged with handling lectures in Finnish. The second professorship in electrical engineering was given to Herman Johannes Kolster.

A.W. Gardberg resigned his position in 1919 and was replaced by Emil Johannes Simola.

The importance of technological education to Finland's economy became apparent following the country's independence in 1917. New professorships were thus added on those fields of technology which were expected to have a direct impact on the development of the Finnish economy. A large part of the new positions was once again directed to the Department of Mechanical Engineering. 1921 saw the creation of professorships in paper technology, general mechanical engineering and industrial economy, marine technology, theoretical electrical engineering and radio technology and mechanical timber technology and lumber industry.

Kustaa Bernhard Wuolle was chosen for the professorship in general mechanical engineering and industrial economy in 1922. Viljo Viktor Ylöstalo was appointed to the professorship in theoretical electrical engineering and radio technology in 1924. Martti Albert Levón was appointed professor of mechanical timber technology and lumber industry in 1926.

The next new professorship would not be opened until 1938, when a professorship was created in the field of aeronautics.


Martti Liesto. Teknillinen korkeakoulu 1908–1988. Karisto Oy:n kirjapaino, Hämeenlinna 1988.

History of mechanical engineering in Finland

The German teachers in Helsinki

Part 1.8. Europe faced a consistent shortage of technology teachers throughout the 1800s. As there were not enough teachers to meet demand, teacher recruitment became a bottleneck for development, especially in places like Finland at the periphery of Europe.

Department of Mechanical Engineering
Rudolf Kolster

Profile: Rudolf Kolster

Appendix 1.1. Rudolf Kolster was a German teacher who came to Helsinki in during the 1860s and is considered the founding father of mechanical engineering in Finland.

Department of Mechanical Engineering
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