The Finnish Association of Civil Engineers RIL has chosen Professor Leena Korkiala-Tanttu from Aalto University Department of Civil Engineering. as the Construction engineer of the year 2018.
The board of RIL in its consideration describes Korkiala-Tanttu as active, a significant role model and engaged in building cooperation between the worlds of academia and industry. She has a versatile background and deep knowledge of the design and construction process in its entirety. Korkiala-Tanttu has an exceptional ability to connect high-level academic expertise with practical engineering skills. She has significant scientific merits that support the future development of the built environment.
Korkiala-Tanttu is a professor of geotechnical engineering at the Aalto University School of Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering. She has extensive experience in the field in both research and design. Korkiala-Tanttu specialises in the geotechnics of infrastructure, such as roads and railways. She is also an experienced researcher in matters related to nuclear waste disposal.
More doctoral graduates needed in the field of construction
Professor Korkiala-Tanttu has won praise for her positive and energetic attitude toward the coming generations. She has encouraged young engineers to specialise in infrastructure construction and showed an example, especially to female students in the field.
‘There is no doubt that construction is traditionally a predominately male field. The number of women in the contracting business is still much smaller than on the design side. Employment rates are excellent at the moment, however, and young women seem to have equal opportunities to advance in their careers compared with their male colleagues,’ says Korkiala-Tanttu.
The professor’s concerns are related to the low number of doctoral graduates in the field.
‘The additional value of research in the field could be seen more clearly if companies had more doctoral graduates in their ranks than they do now. The postgraduate degree holds an even greater significance in the international context. Things will likely go that way in Finland as well, as the industry is gaining a deeper appreciation of the impact doctoral graduates can have in developing companies and the field as a whole in a continuously changing operating environment.’
The construction industry is in a state of constant change as new technologies break through to the field.
‘Previously unheard-of positions are now emerging, especially around information modelling. In Great Britain, for example, the most sought-after positions in construction did not exist at all at the turn of the millennium. This phenomenon emphasises the need for life-long learning and the broad-minded perspective that doctoral education stands for,’ Korkiala-Tanttu notes.
The award was presented at RIL’s spring meeting, held in Tampere on Friday 27 April 2018.
See more information about the award (in Finnish)