Award-winning teams work together

Aalto Pioneering Excellence Award was granted to the Finnish Centre for Artificial Intelligence (FCAI) and the leadership education team of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management. Aalto Science Institute (AScI) received an honourable mention
Kuva: Matti Ahlgren.
Photo: Matti Ahlgren.

Aalto Pioneering Excellence Awards were granted to Aalto teams that do pioneering work to develop the quality and excellence of operations. The event was opened by Elisa's CEO Veli-Matti Mattila, who leads the award committee: 

'The award-winning activities activate cross-border cooperation, develop ethically sustainable culture and creativity, and aim for long-term action.' 

Two teams were awarded the prize: the Finnish Centre for Artificial Intelligence (FCAI), which aims to develop new AI methods, and the leadership education team of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management, which advocates self-awareness, critical thinking and emotional regulation. The Aalto Science Institute (AScI) received an honorable mention. 

Samuel Kaski (left) and Pekka Manninen (right). Photo: Mary-Ann Alfthan.
Samuel Kaski (left) ja Pekka Manninen (right). Photo: Mary-Ann Alfthan.

'At the Finnish Centre for Artificial Intelligence, we share a common mission and can solve challenges that are orders of magnitude bigger, while simultaneously doing both fundamental research and applications. We also have a number of companies as partners, and several start-ups have been established based on the research, such as Spectacular AI with focus on machine vision,' says Professor Samuel Kaski, who heads the Academy of Finland Flagship. 

In addition to its founding members — Aalto University, University of Helsinki and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland — FCAI has partners across the country, including Academy Professor Guoying Zhao from the University of Oulu and programme director Pekka Manninen, who is responsible for the LUMI supercomputer at CSC. 

'Artificial intelligence is becoming really smart, which means that it can be used in multiple ways to also support decision-making,' says Manninen. 

'AI is a worldwide research topic,' adds Zhao. 'For Finland to be the leader with its distinctive research and remain attractive to international AI researchers and developers, we need to join forces.'

Peter Kenttä (left), Tuukka Kostamo (in the middle) and Jari Ylitalo (right). Photo: Mary-Ann Alfthan.
From left: Peter Kenttä, Tuukka Kostamo and Jari Ylitalo. Photo: Mary-Ann Althan.

Developing your own voice 

The leadership education team of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management has over 15 years of experience in leadership education within and beyond the university walls. 

'Leadership is about relationships between people and doing things together. Leadership is always shared. It is also largely a question of developing your own voice,' says researcher Tuukka Kostamo

The Leading as Practice course is based on the same principles it teaches. There are two or three teachers in each lecture, which also gives the opportunity to reflect on one's own teaching. 

'A leader may limit his or her own perspective to improving profits, but in reality, leadership is about taking responsibility for bigger issues. Students also perceive the course as teaching them to take responsibility for their own thinking and actions,' says Postdoctoral researcher Peter Kenttä

'For many students, the world doesn't look the same after the course. Science will also never tell you what kind of leader you should be, you have to figure out the answers yourself through personal reflection,' says University lecturer Jari Ylitalo

David Radnell. Photo: Mary-Ann Alfthan.
David Radnell. Photo: Mary-Ann Alfthan.

A top researcher needs mobility and networking 

The Aalto Science institute (AScI) was awarded an honourable mention for its activities over the past ten years. The institute supports researcher visits, scientific conferences and programmes, and coordinates the now highly popular international summer internship programme. 

"A top researcher is open, mobile and networking," says Professor Mikko Alava, who is responsible for the institute. 

Especially in a small country like Finland, collaboration with top researchers is crucial. Even internationally successful students are well aware of the summer internship programme. 

"During the Covid era, we were only able to take on a tenth of the normal number of summer interns. As soon as the situation improved, we received a record number of applications," says David Radnell, AScI Programme Coordinator.

Read more: Pioneering Excellence Award recognizes FCAI’s partnerships and collaborative achievements

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