Information Technology Program (ITP), Aalto University’s summer minor program, ran its courses and business projects in a hybrid model during the summer while taking care of everyone’s safety.
ITP 2021 was successfully completed with 17 projects and creative solutions to business challenges
Information Technology Program (ITP) is an academic summer program that brings students together from diverse backgrounds from all around the world to complete 24 ECTS for their degree. The core of the program is a three-month-long business project where students create solutions for real challenges of ITP partner companies. Students can specialise in one of three tracks, Information and Service Business (ISB), Digital and Intelligent Ecosystems (DIE) or Strategy and Experience Design (SED).
This year, ITP students came from versatile study backgrounds with a wide variety of majors and 14 nationalities. Around 70% of the students came from Aalto School of Business, but altogether five Aalto University schools (BIZ, ARTS, SCI, ELEC and ENG) were represented. Other represented universities were the University of Jyväskylä, Lappeenranta–Lahti University of Technology, Lund University, Graduate School of Management SPbU, Humboldt University of Berlin and University of Victoria. There were 60 % Master's students and 40 % Bachelor's students.
Remote, Hybrid and on campus
ITP was held entirely remote for the first two months, and the effects of the pandemic were visible throughout the summer. Our students had already been studying remotely for an entire year, which, combined with an intensive program, was inevitably reflected on student wellbeing. The ITP faculty took special care in providing the students with the best possible support and organizing get-togethers including outdoor picnics to keep spirits and motivation high. Organizing the program in these circumstances required a lot of creativity, patience and quick adaptation to sudden changes. This was paramount for not only our students, but faculty as well, who responded with flexibility to changing circumstances.
Luckily, in August as regulations were lifted, we were able to organize lectures on campus and shifted to a hybrid teaching model. Hybrid teaching meant the students were given the choice to attend lectures on campus or online. The remote implementation enabled some students to attend fully abroad from Canada, China, and Austria, as well as from other cities in Finland.
Nenad Jukic, one of our ISB professors, was invited to teach again in ITP from Loyola University in Chicago to provide students with the opportunity to attend lectures on campus. The amazing facilities and technical capabilities of the Aalto University campus enabled smooth and efficient hybrid teaching. 'It was amazing to see how well things can now be organized so not everybody needs to come physically to campus for one reason or another,' says ITP student Nea Kanerva.
Akina Ishiwatari attended the program and lectures from Victoria, Canada. 'Despite having a huge time difference of 10 hours, I absolutely enjoyed my fully remote ITP experience. The new skills set and unique perspectives I gained through this ITP are valuable,' Akina concludes.
Nea Kanerva, ITP student 2021
It was amazing to see how well things can now be organized so not everybody needs to come physically to campus for one reason or another.
17 business projects were successfully completed
Real business projects are a the core of ITP and the learning experience for the students of the challenge-based minor program. We collaborated with 15 partner organizations that offered interesting digital and design challenges for the student teams to tackle. These organizations included Silo AI, City of Porvoo, LähiTapiola, Realia Group, The National Archives of Finland, Ilmarinen, ACRE, Tulli, Kojamo, Siun Sote, PRH, and the Ministry of Education and Culture. We are grateful to all our partner organisations for this collaboration.
Altogether 17 business projects were completed during the summer. The teams explored a wide range of topics, such as competitor analysis, digital marketing strategy, data visualization, innovation of a service development framework, and research on future opportunities of modern technologies.
In our final feedback, the partners highlighted a few positive key aspects of the collaboration: the added value of the solution, fresh ideas and inspiration, and the fluency of the cooperation. Many stated that the business project solutions gave lots of valuable and actionable insights for their future development, and the close collaboration with students was appreciated and seen as effective.
The group presented a lot of fresh ideas and perspectives that we can use in our own development work.
Addition of a few new faculty members
In ITP 2021, we added a few new faculty members to our seasoned faculty group. Primarily these new members were experts in their industry and together with the academic professionals teaching in ITP created a warm and cohesive learning experience.
Flavio Budioia an experienced UX Designer who taught in our SED track commented, 'Teaching at ITP was amazing. Based on what I’ve heard from the students, a great experience for them and definitely something remarkable to me. They managed to grasp the overall idea about User Experience, it’s importance and relevance to any product, service or company. In the end, I believe that was the most important thing about it: both teacher and students learning something new and professionally growing together.'
Katharina Schilli, our new lecturer in Design Strategy and Co-Founder of Nordic Rebels and Doctoral Candidate (TSE)
I was struck by the enthusiasm of the students to take on the complex challenges of the ITP Summer Program in the true Nordic Rebels spirit.
Projects were challenging and rewarding
For many students, ITP was the first time they worked in close collaboration with a real-life business partners. Most students are assigned to a project where they had little to no previous experience, as one of the key takeaways of ITP is to equip students to embrace new challenges, get acquainted with new fields, and develop out-of-the-box solutions.
Quy Pham, a student from the ISB track, felt he learned a lot in the project work. 'It has been a steep learning curve for me personally as I have never had a chance to collaborate closely with a business partner before, let alone on a digitalisation project which is out of the scope of my knowledge. I learned a lot from project management skills, IT knowledge, conducting client interviews to delivering a proof-of-concept of an IT-enabled solution to a client.'
For Laura Feld from the SED track, her team's final project outcome exceeded her expectations. 'I think it is more than I imagined it could be in the beginning. I think we provided something very holistic and specific as a concept. Not only does it have a digital prototype to show off, but it encompasses an entire framework that the client can use as a guideline and gives concrete steps to get others to work together. I am proud of it.'
Thank you to everyone involved
Overall, we are very happy about how this ITP year has turned out in terms of our partner collaboration, student performance and maintaining the warm ITP community spirit. Despite the pandemic, the program was successfully completed with many valuable solutions for our partner organisations. We would like to thank all the business partners, ITP instructors and staff, and especially our lovely students for pulling the summer through with such an effort and amazing results. There wouldn't be ITP without you all. So, thank you!
This year has equipped us with many valuable lessons that will help us steer the program forward. It is now time for us but also for students and organisations to start looking into the future. We all hope that ITP 2022 can be organised on campus again, and we'll be able to offer more great face-to-face experiences.
One thing's for certain: ITP 2022 will again provide students with interesting studies, hands-on business projects and an amazing group of people to collaborate with. For companies and organisations, ITP will offer unique collaboration with students and creative solutions to multi-faceted digital challenges.
We're looking forward to hearing from our next year's potential students and partner organisations. Please don't hesitate to contact us and stay tuned for our updates regarding ITP 2022.
See you next year!
Visit our website to stay up to date with next year's program. We start accepting applications from January 10 2022 onwards!
Let's grow and innovate this summer!
The next student application period for ITP starts in January 2022 and ends at April 22 2022. ITP is free of charge for tuition waiver students, who are students from Aalto University, students from Finnish universities under the JOO agreement and students from Aalto University School of Business partner institutions under a current exchange agreement. Applicants must have at least 60 ECTS of the BSc degree completed when applying to the program.
This article was written in collaboration with our fantastic ITP 2021 coordinators, Erika Natunen, Verneri Suomela and Saana Rauvala.
Read here articles related to the ITP summer 2020.
For more information about the program, visit the following websites.
Aalto University Information Technology Program (ITP) is a minor program (24 ECTS) that is completed during the summer period (3 months). It brings students together from diverse backgrounds and all around the world to solve digital business problems. ITP 2022 dates are 30.5. - 2.9.2022.