Electrical Engineering relocated, got better facilities and saved millions

In the beginning of 2015, the entire Aalto community brainstormed how to come up with solutions when the Finnish government had decided to heavily cut university funding.

Together we decided to focus savings on facility costs etc. rather than on reducing the number of personnel. This excellent plan called for solid implementation.

It has been 18 months since the negotiations ended. The cuts in facilities have reached approximately 60 000 square metres, and we are nearing the planned target of 100 000 square metres. In monetary terms, this means annual savings of approximately EUR 20 million, compared to 2012. And like planned, these savings and the income from the sale and renting out of the freed facilities can be used to finance the core activities of the university. 

How did this reflect on the everyday lives of the members of the Aalto community? Planning, moving boxes, giving up personal work facilities, activity-based offices, changing ways of working and work locations, learning new and even fears.

The staff of the School of Electrical Engineering, a total of 500 people, relocated between the turn of the year and May into more compact facilities. They moved from Otakaari 5 within the same building, to a part that was built in the 2000s, and to Maarintie 8, Otakaari 3 and the Computer Science building. In the spirit of Aalto, the School of Science helped the School of Electrical Engineering; the Department of Computer Science freed some space in the Computer Science building and the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management from Maarintie 8. 

One of the buildings of Aalto ELEC is Maarintie 8. In the photo people are gathered to follow the launch of Aalto-2 satellite last April. Photo: Mikko Raskinen.

In connection with the relocations, research groups were regrouped into thematic entities. They discussed if it would be possible to work in new kind of co-operation groups and then moved from words to actions. For example the Aalto Acoustic Lab gathered the acoustic researchers from the School of Electrical Engineering and the School of Science together, and the researchers of speech relocated into the Health Technology House.

- Our relocation went very well, even if there was a little delay in the schedule. We found a core team from the different departments that outlined the facility needs and placement of personnel, and we discussed the current situation regularly at Dean's coffee. Relocating required tight cooperation between the schools, departments, research groups and Aalto CRE, but the most demanding process was the mental relocating process of the personnel that took some time, says Petri Hyvönen, Technology Manager at the School of Electrical Engineering.

- The quality of the new facilities is clearly higher than that of the old ones. Many people feared activity-based offices but, as a general rule, people are happy with the new facilities. In monetary terms, the relocation means achieving our target, i.e. annual savings of approximately EUR 2.3 million compared to 2015, says Petri.

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