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Kiia Einola thinks that buildings should support the well-being of us all

Kiia Einola's study journey at Aalto University extends from bachelor's studies all the way to doctoral research. Summer job during her master's studies sparked Kiia's interest in smart building research. She is currently working on her doctoral dissertation in smart building services engineering by collaborating with Helvar, a company specializing in electrical engineering.
Kiia Einola hymyilee kameralle. Otaniemen amfiteatteri taustalla.
Photo: Meeri Saltevo

Kiia Einola's path towards doctoral research on more energy-efficient lighting solutions was built as part of Helvar's active collaboration with Aalto University School of Electrical Engineering. During her studies, Helvar had become familiar to Kiia already. During her school courses, concrete challenges faced by the building services engineering industry were solved in cooperation between the School and Helvar.

The discussions with Helvar gave Kiia the opportunity to consider which research topics she would be interested in, but at the same time, the collaboration with Helvar also showed the practical challenges that the building services industry faces in real life.

'During my studies, I discussed various potential challenges with Helvar representatives, which would require further research in the building services engineering field.'

She describes her doctoral dissertation collaboration with Helvar as an enriching experience.

"In my opinion, the cooperation with Helvar has been an opportunity to bring research closer to the practical problems faced by the real world, and at the same time it gives me valuable work experience."

During her master's studies, Einola got summer jobs in the field of building services, which had a significant impact on why she ended up working on her doctoral dissertation in the field of building services.

'Becoming a doctoral researcher in smart building services engineering is first of all a sum of coincidences, but I have also always relied heavily on my inner intuition.'

People spend a huge part of their lives in different buildings. Buildings should be designed first and foremost for us humans, which is why they should support well-being and be accessible to everyone.

Kiia Einola, Doctoral student in smart buildings engineering

Technical building systems should be utilized more 

Although energy efficiency is a recurring theme in building construction, buildings and technical building systems are still utilized quite inefficiently. For example, in many older public buildings, lighting is still controlled by switches or timers.

'I study how technical lighting systems would be more energy-efficient and how utilization rate data from lighting systems, for example, could be utilised in other applications as well.'

Buildings increasingly have a huge variety of systems that collect user data. In addition to lighting control, this data can be utilized, for example, for air conditioning control or dimensioning of office spaces. In this sense, lighting control systems are an interesting area of research, as they often already have a dense network of motion sensors. The dense sensor network enables a more accurate picture of the building's occupancy rate, even if the exact number of people is not known.

'Since we spend most of our time indoors, the topic of my doctoral dissertation touches us all. When I found the topic of my dissertation, I immediately knew that the topic was too relevant not to be studied.'

Einola is currently halfway through her doctoral studies, but what happens after graduation?

'I would like to work in the building services industry. I am not closing the door to a career path in academia, but at the moment I feel at the end of a long study path that I would be interested in the opportunities offered by the industrial world.'

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