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Aaltonaut product development kicks off with AI design

The boot camp weekend of Aaltonaut, a Bachelor’s minor programme, saw the participants design an artificial intelligence application.
The students worked on their demos and bent plexiglass at Design Factory’s Puuhabunkkeri workshop.

Teamwork, communication skills and entrepreneurship are at the heart of the fourth ever Aaltonaut. Bachelor’s Degree students from all the six schools of Aalto University gathered at Otaniemi’s Design Factory for the kick-off weekend.

"Students get an opportunity to solve authentic business world problems"

“The idea behind Aaltonaut is to offer the students an opportunity to solve authentic business world problems. As the skills required in the real world change at a breakneck speed, no one can predict which skill sets will guarantee employment in a decade’s time. That’s why it’s essential for educational institutions that train future experts and companies that need this expertise to work together in close collaboration”, explains Elina Kähkönen, the teacher in charge of the programme.

Tieto was responsible for Saturday’s product development project. As part of this project, six student groups were given six hours to show off their creative skills and develop a form for Alicia T, an AI application appointed to the management team of Tieto’s unit for data-driven business. 

The student teams were assigned the task of creating a form for Alicia T, an AI application, by Jessica Diktonius and Pasi Muranen from Tieto.

“I’m expecting a day packed with creative buzz to allow us to create something concrete and unique”, says Simo Höglund, a second-year student of electrical engineering. “It’s great to have the opportunity to meet students from other fields as sometimes it gets a little dull to study the same stuff with the same bunch of people.”

In the true spirit of Aaltonaut, the students did not allow even the trickiest of tasks to bring them a standstill but sought solutions to them via avenues that were bold and often also surprising. After all, there were no right or wrong answers.

The task got the interdisciplinary teams’ creative juices flowing and ideas were soon kicked around.

Cross-pollination

This is the first time that Tieto is involved in the Aaltonaut programme. Its expectations are sky high.

“We are hoping to see real out-of-the-box thinking from the students, something totally new. The light bulb wasn’t invented by tweaking the candle. What was needed was new vision from the outside”, explains Pasi Muranen, an architect at Tieto Data Driven Business.

Tieto is fully in favour of Aaltonaut’s interdisciplinary and solution-centred approach. With new technologies, the requirements of working life are undergoing continuous changes.

“In the IT field, narrow technological expertise will not suffice. In addition to engineering skills, graduates will need to have a good understanding of business and knowledge of various sectors. Tieto actively promotes cross-pollination, exchange of ideas and innovations between various fields”, says Jessica Diktonius, Head of Media Relations and Reputation Management at Tieto.

With no right or wrong answer, even the craziest of ideas could serve as a starting point.

When facts learned at school become outdated, the desire to acquire new knowledge will be critical. In companies, as teams comprise experts from different fields, they must have the ability to take everybody’s ideas and skills into account.

“It’s not enough to know how to use a single tool. If you have a hammer, suddenly the whole world begins to look like a nail. It’s a risky strategy to put all your eggs in one basket. If organisations don’t move with the times, they will be left behind”, says Muranen.

Alicia T’s transformations

After six hours of hard graft, the teams introduced their creations with the demos they had put together. The three-minute pitches brought to life six unique versions of Alicia T. The end results included holograms, human voice, light signalling, elegant design, social media channels, the wisdom of an owl and apps.

"The students presented fresh perspectives and ideas that had never crossed our minds"

“The results exceeded all our expectations. The students presented fresh and unique perspectives and plenty of ideas that had never crossed our minds”, says Pasi Muranen from Tieto, summarising the project results.

The day culminated in the jury’s verdict on the teams’ achievements. The winning team was awarded a 100,000-euro jackpot - provided the scratchcard granted as the prize was the lucky one.

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