Ari Niemelä

Ari Niemelä, who was awarded the title of Alumnus of the Year by the School of Engineering in 2017, is Head of Hull Basic Design in the Meyer Turku shipyard. Niemelä has a master’s degree in naval architecture and marine engineering, and has previously worked as e.g. a classification engineer at Deltamarin, principal designer at Kvaerner Masa Yards and manager of hull basic design at STX Finland.
Ari Niemelä at the Alumnus of the Year award ceremony

Tell us a little bit about your work and your career path.

I work in the Meyer Turku shipyard as the Head of Hull Basic Design. Even as we speak, we have eight new and innovative cruise ships in our order book.

I began my career as a classification engineer and project coordinator at the engineering company Deltamarin, where I worked in various projects focusing on hull basic design. In the Turku shipyard I started out as the principal naval architect and strength analyser, after which I moved on to lead classification projects and finally to my current position.

During my time in Meyer Turku, I have taken part in various shipbuilding projects in different roles, from structural design to development projects, and all of them have offered some interesting challenges. To name a few key projects, I have been involved in the making of the cruise ships Voyager of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas, all of which were, at their time, the largest cruise ships in the world and milestones in the cruise ship industry.

How did you end up studying naval architecture?

I was good at maths and natural sciences in upper secondary school, and was also interested in technology, so applying for Helsinki University of Technology and its Department of Mechanical Engineering was a natural choice for me. I became interested in naval architecture quite early on, because ships are large and complex projects that involve a wide range of ‘state-of-the-art’ technology. My interest in ships was supported by my family’s sailing hobby that had allowed me to spend time on the sea and in the Finnish archipelago.

What is your best memory from your student years?

The most memorable experience was a trip to the ship M/S Kemira, where I conducted ice load measurements together with a measurement technician who has since become a professor. I learnt a lot on that trip, both about life and about my field of study, such as measurement techniques and data analysis.

Which skill learnt at university has been the most valuable for you in the working world?

While working on my demanding master’s thesis I learnt that reaching your goal takes persistence and systematic work. My master’s thesis, supervised by Professor Petri Varsta, was titled “Laivan ja massiivisen jäälautan epäsymmetrisen törmäyksen matemaattinen mallintaminen” (Mathematical modelling of asymmetrical collision of a ship and an ice floe).

Tell us something surprising about yourself.

I used to play in the same punk band with Maukka Perusjätkä.

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