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'Doctoral studies are a company's investment in the future'

Murata encourages its employees to pursue doctorates while working
Kouros Latifi and Antti Ontronen
Kouros Latifi (left) and Antti Ontronen from Murata. Photo: Kalle Kataila / Aalto University

Each year, about 200 students finish their doctoral studies at Aalto, and an Increasing number of them have an international background. After his doctoral studies at Aalto, Kourosh Latifi, who moved from Iran to Finland, advanced from being a development engineer to heading a team in less than four years of working at Murata.

‘I decided to continue my career in Finland, where I had done my doctoral education at the country's best technology university. The work on my dissertation was very demanding, and I learned many skills that I can now make use of in product development at Murata's MEMS technology centre in Vantaa,’ says Latifi, whose team is working on measurement systems.

Latifi had no problems finding employment in Finland even though he has a foreign background, but things have been different for some of his friends. ‘I have several friends who moved to Finland and completed their doctoral studies here, and their only options for staying here are choosing between an academic career or a large international company similar to Murata, where there’s very intense competition for jobs. Many Finnish companies prefer to hire a Finnish applicant rather than someone with a foreign background, regardless of individual’s technical capabilities,' Latifi explains.

A scientist facing something new

Murata, which manufactures high performance sensors for the car and healthcare industries, encourages its employees to do a doctoral degree while working at the company. In the shared doctoral path, employees study for six years for a doctorate and are allowed to use one working day each week for their studies.

‘We see doctoral education as an investment in the future. It provides skills for solving demanding technological challenges and for mastering complex matters. Doctoral graduates have strong university networks that help keep us at the forefront of technological development,’ says Tuomas Nurmi, senior HR manager at Murata Finland.

Antti Ontronen is a measurement specialist who is currently one of five students on the doctoral path at Murata. Ontronen’s dissertation focuses on new control systems for sensors.

‘We’re researching an extremely sensitive and stable gyroscope sensor capable of indicating true north under the most challenging conditions. A compass based on the rotation of the earth would bring completely new dimensions to navigation and to autonomous cars, for example,’ explains Ontronen.

Ontronen says that the combination of doing scientific research for a doctoral thesis and working as a measurement expert is an ideal combination. ‘I get to develop a theory and evaluate it in the real world. It’s outrageously interesting to produce new science and test things that nobody else has assessed or witnessed before,’ Ontronen adds.

Semiconductor industry values PhDs

The semiconductor industry, which is growing quickly, will need plenty of new specialists soon. Aalto has long produced PhDs in the semiconductor and microelectronics field with skills that the industry values. 

‘Students see a doctoral degree in the field as a basic degree that leads to interesting work assignments. In industrial research and development teams, holders of doctorates get to work on solving global problems,’ says Professor Jussi Ryynänen, dean of Aalto’s School of Electrical Engineering.

Ryynänen also mentioned the strong internationalisation of the field of electrical engineering recently, which has made it easier for PhDs with foreign backgrounds to find employment in Finland. ‘Most of those who have defended their doctoral thesis under my guidance have found work in Finnish industry,’ says Ryynänen, whose professorship is in microelectronics design. 

The Aalto International Talent Programme serves as another link between international master's and doctoral students and Finnish companies. ‘Murata participates actively in the programme by mentoring students. That’s how we’ve found skilled new employees, who are an important asset for us,’ says Murata’s Nurmi.

Text: Marjukka Puolakka

For further information, please contact:

Susanna Jaarmo

Susanna Jaarmo

Corporate Relations Manager, School of Science
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