First running in 2012, the Aalto Science Institute (AScI) internship programme offers undergraduate and master's students employment opportunities to participate first-hand in topical research. The internship places are open to students from all countries. For the most recent application round– which closed on 31 January– 1,096 students from 71 countries applied for 47 available projects.
‘In the first year of the AScI internship programme in 2012, we received 25 applications to some half dozen research groups within the School of Science. So it is really exciting that the programme is now receiving 1000+ applications to tens of projects across all four Aalto Schools of Technology.” says Professor Pekka Orponen from the Department of Computer Science. ‘Such great interest, both from the applicant and the recruiter side, bears witness to the inherent value of the three dimensions of the AScI initiative: quality, internationalisation, and collaboration.’
‘As the AScI director I am quite pleased to see the growth of the program.’ said professor Mikko Alava, ‘I think this reflects the growing recognition of the opportunities given to both visiting students and to the faculty here at Aalto. I am looking forward to the future of the scheme in the post-pandemic times.
The most popular choices, in terms of numbers of applicants, were spread across the Technology schools. The most applied for the project “Investigation of Li-ion batteries' electron degradation processes” was from the School of Chemistry, and received over 90 applications. Other popular choices included “Neuroimaging with naturalistic stimuli” and “Deep learning methods for extreme scale classification” from the School of Science, and “Organic materials and devices” from the School of Electrical Engineering.
“The number of applications has been going up every year I have been involved. I’m elated that we attract students who are top of their class in top universities. Many are academically talented and pursue PhD studies later on, so I’m happy that I have been able to offer them this opportunity to learn with us.” says professor Antti Oulasvirta from the School of Electrical Engineering. “The internship program has become a stable part of our hiring cycle. Every year, I ask PhD students and postdocs in my group to post project topics to the call. I reserve a good chunk of our funding for this, and hire around 8 to 12 interns. The program benefits the broader community here at Aalto: Our own students get to see global top peers, which help them calibrate.”David Radnell, the program coordinator, says, ‘The AScI internship program is well known among students and professors at many top universities, and I receive numerous enquiries before the call is even announced. Given how few funded opportunities there are for students to participate in research internationally, this is a significant opportunity to attract top international talent to our Aalto campus.’
Last summer, Maryam Esmaeilzadeh, an Iranian masters student from Sapienza University of Rome did her placement in the School of Chemistry in the group of Jaana Vapaavuori. As a result of the collaborating and networking Esmeailzadeh was able to do during her internship, she has now started PhD studies at the University of Turku. You can read more about her story here.
The AScI program managed to continue during the restrictions from the coronavirus pandemic, and will be looking to continue into its tenth year and beyond. If you are interested in taking part you can contact the programme coordinator David Radnell, visit the AScI website, and watch for the host call which is emailed to all professors in October.