An audience of hundreds gathered at the Career Forum to hear all about degree studies and the requirements that will be demanded of students entering employment in the future. The event also gave those in attendance the opportunity to check out the poster presentations of the research groups at the school.
‘Learning through work is an essential part of our bachelor's degree programme, and it's precisely in this area that we need the help of you, the companies here today,’ Vice Dean Tapani Vuorinen stated in his opening address at the Career Forum. ‘Our courses include plenty of precisely the kind of small group work that prepares students for life in employment. Professional competencies are also concertedly developed during the summer work placements in the first and second years of study, which are planned in line with the personal learning objectives drawn up by the students themselves. In this way, students are able to prepare for summer work in advance and even get study credits during the summer time.’
Tapani Vuorinen was extremely satisfied with the high level of interest in the Career Forum event registered by companies and enterprises.
‘This is an important opportunity to forge mutually-beneficial connections for all the interested parties – the university, students, and businesses alike. Our students get relevant work experience and the companies get the kinds of employees that have the exceptional skills needed in working life.’
The Career Forum also included a panel discussion about the future needs in working life and student competencies in the various chemical technology fields. All of the corporate and interest group representatives on the panel stressed the importance of a strong foundation in science. On top of scientific knowledge and expertise, business skills, or at the very least the ability to consider matters from a financial point of view, were also deemed to be valuable. Broad-based degree studies and unique minor subject specialisms will be an asset in the labour markets of the future.
‘Working life is changing at a rapid pace and we can't yet say with a great deal of confidence what kinds of jobs today's first-year students will get when they graduate. It is precisely for this reason that a broad-based approach to degree studies is a good idea. In this way, students are prepared for many different work tasks. Taking a business course as a minor subject or completing multidisciplinary courses is a good solution. And unique combinations of courses are a real strength for students,’ says Pirre Hyötynen from Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland TEK.
Stands from 14 companies were on show: students were able to ask the company representatives about summer work and other job opportunities.
Sustainable development in focus
The culmination of the course on industrial working environments and processes was a poster presentation session that brought together students interested in hearing about the work done by one of the school's research teams. Hanna Kuha and Elisa Juvonen were pleased that they got to hear about the topic that most interested them. Both students are fans of this teaching method.
‘Professor of Bioprocess Engineering, Heikki Ojamo, talked to us about his research and we also got to check out his lab and see what research really looks like in practice. We certainly learned a lot by interviewing the professor – much more than if we'd heard about the same topic in a lecture. For example, we were able to ask for more info straight away when we didn't understand something. And the professor's passion for his field was really infectious!’
‘The structure of the course is really polished and the lectures work around a clear theme, with this year's being that of sustainable development. And the course also uses the full range of teaching methods – lectures, seminars, calculation exercises, project work, interim tests, and exams,’ explains Professor Olli Dahl, who is responsible for teaching on the course.
The following organisations were in attendance: The Chemical Industry Federation of Finland, the Finnish Union of Experts in Science LAL, The Finnish Forest Industries Federation, Paper Engineers’ Association, and Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland TEK.
The following companies were in attendance: Boliden, Borealis Polymers, Fortum, Kemira, Kotkamills, Metsä Fibre, Neste Oil, Orion, Outotec, Ruukki/SSAB, Stora Enso, Tikkurila, UPM.
Photos: Mikko Raskinen/Aalto University