Aaron H. Rios Villanueva is a student in Smart Systems Integrated Solutions (SSIs) programme, which is a two-year joint master programme, with full student mobility between Aalto University, University of South-Eastern Norway (USN) and Budapest University of Technology and Economics (BME) with leading expertise in the academic fields of Smart Systems and Microsystems Technology.
Why did you choose the Master's Programme in Smart Systems Integrated Solutions?
I was drawn to this Erasmus Mundus programme from the beginning. The possibility of studying in three
different countries and universities is something very few programmes can offer. I knew that being
able to experience three different academic systems and work cultures would enrichen my knowledge and
open the doors to endless possibilities.
Besides the impressive academic curriculum, this programme also focuses on other transversal skills that are equally important. The heavy focus on local culture and language classes, entrepreneurship, and joint events, like the summer and winter schools, makes this programme stand out from other alternatives. Furthermore, this programme is backed by renowned associated partners from the industry that further contribute with lectures, projects, and internships. Last but not least, the experience of becoming a member of a family of students from all the corners of the world for two years has allowed me to understand the advantages of other ways of seeing the world.
What benefits do you feel you will get when you study for your degree at three different universities?
Experiencing different teaching methods at each university allows you to understand and adapt to the
work culture of each country. This permits you to ease your way into the daily life of not just one
country, but three or more! You will benefit from the expertise and facilities of each university, taking the
best each has to offer. After finishing this programme, graduates will be fully prepared to continue
their studies or enter the job market of multiple countries having significant advantages over others.
It also goes without saying that the unique outlook of the SSIs programme will allow you to get better
acquainted with multiple cultures and learn three different languages.
What did you like about studying at Aalto University? What was the best part of your studies?
The quality of the infrastructure and laboratories at Aalto University are extraordinary. The
relationship between industry and research within Aalto is of vital importance. As an SSIs student, I
had the opportunity to visit the high-tech laboratories in Micronova jointly managed by Aalto
University and VTT. There is also a strong focus on entrepreneurship culture as shown by the
numerous start-up incubators at Aalto university. Speaking about student life, Aalto has one of the
liveliest and most active student associations I have ever seen. The best part of my studies was
belonging to the Electrical Engineering guild (Sähköinsinöörikilta in Finnish) and attending to the multiple events they organised.
It was through these associations that I got to experience true Finnish student teekkari culture like
saunas, sitsits, and ice hockey matches. Such an experience allowed me to blend into Finnish society.
What was your favourite course at Aalto University?
It definitely was Translational Engineering Forum (TEF). This subject might as well have been called
entrepreneurship 101. In addition to developing a project idea and eventually designing and building
a working prototype of our product, we also focused on building a business plan and how to attract
potential investors for our startup. We had dedicated technical and entrepreneurship lectures with
professors that have experience in creating start-up companies. For this subject, I spent a lot of time
working at the electronics workshop doing practical work which is something I thoroughly enjoy and
appraise. This subject culminated in a dragon’s den presentation where we had to pitch our idea for
funding to potential investors.
What do you expect from the future? What does the future of the field look like?
Smart systems are quickly becoming omnipresent in all Engineering fields and their importance will
only continue to grow in the next decades. This also means that in the next years more and more
companies will require graduates that are experts in Smart systems.
One of the best things about Smart Systems is the broadness of the field. SSIs graduates will be
prepared to work in many different scientific and academic fields ranging from the biomedical industry
to space electronics. SSIs graduates can choose from a vast range of opportunities from academia and
industry. Not even the sky is the limit!
What would you want to say to international students that consider coming to Finland to study?
You will experience an educational system and work culture that is one of the best in the world. Finnish
society is distinguished by concepts like trust, equality, and flatness of hierarchy. It is not uncommon
to approach teachers in an informal but respectful way leading to more meaningful and enriching
relationships with them.
Finland is a very international and multicultural country. The local community welcomes foreign
students with open arms. As such, many career opportunities are open for international students and
graduates in English, though starting to learn some Finnish is of course always recommended.
The cities are vibrant and full of life. From the moment you get off the plane, you will notice how
Finnish cities are a unique blend between urban architecture and nature. You will get to experience
the beautiful passage of the seasons, from the sunny summers to the white snowy winters. If you are
lucky, you may get to see one of nature’s most beautiful spectacles: the northern lights. It is no wonder
that Finland ranks high in the happiness index each year.
So, what are you waiting for? Do not think it twice. Studying in Finland will be one of the best decisions
you will make in your life.