AlumniWeekend brings together old and new students in Finland's 'Silicon Valley'

On an October Saturday, the AlumniWeekend seminar brought a record number of participants to the School of Electrical Engineering.

In addition to three parallel series of lectures, the renewed event offered perspectives into the development of Aalto University and the Otaniemi area.

Keijo Nikoskinen, Dean of the School of Electrical Engineering, explained that the ongoing changes are visible in teaching, research and the organisation of the school.

The main focus areas for research are ICT technology, energy and the environment, micro- and nanotechnology, and health and wellbeing. The number of professors at the school is 50.

'Through the introduction of larger departments, we wish to enhance cooperation between professors and the various areas of research. With the reform of teaching, our students have even greater opportunities for multidisciplinary studies,' Nikoskinen stated.

Easy travel by metro and other public transport

The Otaniemi Campus will be reformed. With the renovation of the facilities in Otakaari 1, it will become the centre of bachelor-level education at Aalto University.

– The investment decision on the new campus building has been made. The Väre building, to be completed in 2017, will house the School of Arts, Design and Architecture that will also move to Otaniemi. The Otaniementie road will be partly closed from cars and replaced by a high-speed tram line,' explained Aalto University Provost Ilkka Niemelä.

Aside from the metro, significant investments will be made in the development of public transport in the area.

'We are building a campus for its future users, who are not even born yet. In the future, the fastest way to get to Otaniemi will be by public transport.'

New businesses from the high tech cluster

Otaniemi has not been dubbed the Silicon Valley of Finland for nothing: 5 000 researchers and a total of 16 000 high tech professionals from more than 110 countries work in the area.

'Several startups, many of which have been successful in the international market, too, were originally established in Otaniemi. The area has seen significant investment in entrepreneurial activities, which can be seen in events and organisations such as Startup Sauna, Design Factory and Slush, a non-profit event for startups,' explained Ari Huczkowski, CEO of Otaniemi Marketing.

According to Huczkowski, approximately 8 500 enterprises in the ICT field are located within a 15-minute drive from Otaniemi. What is still missing from Otaniemi, then?

'We need more things for people to do after 5 pm. The metro coming here will solve that to some extent, as commercial facilities will also appear in connection with the entrance points to the metro.'

The AlumniWeekend seminar was organised by Aalto University Alumni and Corporate Relations; alumni organisations for electrical and communications engineering (Sähköklubi), bioinformation technology (BioDI), automation and systems technology (Automaatio- ja systeemitekniikan alumnit); School of Electrical Engineering’s guilds for students of electrical engineering (Sähköinsinöörikilta), bioinformation technology (Inkubio) and automation and systems technology (Automaatio- ja systeemitekniikan kilta); a club for students of electrical engineering (Sähkövoimatekniikan kerho); and the Aalto University School of Electrical Engineering.

Väre won Campus 2015 architectural design competition, which was arranged by Aalto University Properties Ltd. More information.

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