My Dear University
Knowledge, skills, willpower, teamwork and passion
On May Day of 1956, mechanical engineer student Juhani Linnoinen and hundreds of other technology students dragged the foundation pillar of the new Helsinki University of Technology through the streets of the capital. This impressive stunt sped up the university’s move to Otaniemi. Linnoinen has good memories of his professors and of factory excursions in Finland and Sweden.
His career began with work on outboard motor design at Valmet’s factory in Jyskä. In 1968, he was tasked with setting up production at Saab-Valmet’s car factory in Uusikaupunki. The knowledge was brought from Sweden and the first Saab 96 produced in Uusikaupunki was ready in 1969. Many years later, Linnoinen retired as Managing Director of the factory after having held the position for 25 years.
‘The work placements I did during my studies were important for developing my expertise. In factory work, you learn to cooperate with people,’ he says. ‘Five things are needed for success: knowledge, skills, willpower, teamwork and passion. When people master all of these, things go smoothly.’ Technological know-how is needed to ensure the future success of the Finnish industry. ‘Everything starts with education,’ he says. ‘I am proud to see that great work is being done at Aalto – work that brings new insights and inventions. That’s why I donate to Aalto.’
Bricks for the student village
When Helena Kautola began her chemical engineering studies on the Otaniemi campus in 1974, she became the third generation of her family to study engineering. Kautola, her father and her grandfather all did factory work placements abroad during their studies. ‘My father carried bricks for constructing the student village from the ruins of the Soviet Embassy after it had been bombed in 1944. He also donated to the construction of Dipoli and received a numbered key in return,’ Kautola recalls.
What Kautola remembers most from her own master’s studies in engineering are the excursions to domestic and foreign companies, as the well as the enjoyable and fun laboratory work done together with other students. ‘Our course had a great team spirit and the students have continued to stay in touch throughout their careers,’ she says.
In 1990, Kautola defended her doctoral dissertation on bio-process engineering at what later became Aalto University. She also put together degree programmes at both Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences and Häme University of Applied Sciences, where she currently works as Principal Research Scientist for Biotechnology and Food Processing Technology.
Kautola is a Docent at Aalto University and has served as a mentor for many years. She points out that donations to Aalto help to keep Finnish science at a high level. ‘As the funding patterns change, universities increasingly need support from alumni,’ she says. ‘If each Aalto alumni were to make a small contribution, it would in total provide a lot of support for the university.’
Part of a distinguished network
Jukka Gustafsson considers himself to be like the Disney character Gyro Gearloose – someone with a continuous passion for new experiences and for developing new things. Studying in Otaniemi in the 1970s opened the doors to an active student life and gave Gustafsson a deep understanding of how metallic materials work. ‘In the metallic engineering guild, I was able to get to know the companies in the field,’ he says. ‘My strongest and fondest memories are the excursion to Sweden and the laboratory’s Tuesday sauna evenings after we had done the Laajalahti run together. I also got to know many foreign students and teachers.’
In Otaniemi, he felt from the beginning that he was part of a distinguished network. ‘It’s great that Aalto’s current students have even better opportunities than before, with students of business, technology and creative arts now mixing together on the same campus.’
Gustafsson’s international career has included application development for the processing industry, service construction and international business management. He is grateful for the good education he received and is currently an active mentor for students in different fields. ‘All alumni should definitely try mentoring. A mentor has a lot to offer when young people are thinking about career options and planning their future,’ he says.
Gustafsson keeps track of Aalto’s lectures and events, as he finds them to be a good opportunity to keep his knowledge up to speed and to meet old friends. ‘I donate to Aalto because the story of its development is fascinating to me,’ he says. ‘The residents of Espoo are fortunate to have Aalto University as an important force for the city’s development. Aalto and Espoo are both strong players in Finland.’
Promoting exports through a diplomatic career
Mika Koskinen fondly remembers his years of study at the School of Business, which he joined in 1986: ‘In addition to being active in student clubs, I participated in student exchanges in Strasbourg, France and in Bergen, Norway,’ he says. ‘I also have good memories of the fun KY disco evenings and the traditional autumn balls.’
Koskinen graduated in 1991 as a Master of Science in Economics and Business Administration. In his career at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, he has lived in The Hague, Paris, Dublin, Madrid, Lima and New York. In the last two cities he worked as Head of Delegation.
‘Even though my career has been outside the business world, my business studies have served me well within the operating environment of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, where export promotion is a key element,’ he says. ‘The academic and entrepreneurial way of thinking has been of help in many situations.’
In Koskinen’s opinion, the high level of teaching has always been a key asset of the School of Business. He is also very pleased that in Aalto University the students have great opportunities for multidisciplinary studies. ‘My good education opened up an interesting career for me. By donating, I would like to express my gratitude to this fine old seat of learning. It is also a pleasure to participate in Aalto’s active alumni activities,’ says Koskinen.
Text: Marjukka Puolakka