Finland needs more Aalto graduates, says Provost Kristiina Mäkelä in this issue’s Openings column, where she comments on the education policy objectives of Prime Minister Antti Rinne’s programme for government. Mäkelä praises the national goal of increasing the share of university graduates in each age cohort to 50%. However, she points out that additional admissions should target fields and sectors in which labour is in the highest demand and that will support the economy’s ability to innovate for the future. Technology, business science and, to an increasing degree, the creative industries, i.e. Aalto University’s three main areas, will play a key role in this, she says.
The main article bids farewell to fossil fuels. The global energy transition has commenced and Finland is well placed to bring it to a successful conclusion, researchers say. Different sectors will rid themselves of fossils at differing paces: ‘First electricity, then heat and finally transport,’ reckons Assistant Professor Annukka Santasalo-Aarnio, who researches energy storage and the processes of converting energy from one form into another. According to the multidisciplinary Smart Energy Transition research project, 95% of Finland’s primary energy could be produced cleanly utilising existing technologies. This would require a major systemic change, says project head Armi Temmes. ‘Changes to the markets, business activity, taxation and subsidy policies as well as business models will be required.’
Many next-generation technological solutions will be based on photonics, the science of light, the opportunities of which are showcased in an extensive article. Optical data communication solutions, for example, enable data to be transferred via millions of fibre-optic networks around the world almost in real time. This, in turn, feeds artificial intelligence algorithms that will, in future, provide us with self-driving cars, intelligent cities and industry 4.0, which will be based on the Internet of Things.
In the column Who, Helsinki Design Week founder and fresh Honorary Doctor Kari Korkman recounts how he, a business graduate, wound up working in design. He modelled his self-developed job title of design producer on movie production and book publishing. ‘Where someone else would read manuscripts or listen to demo tapes, I started to study product concepts.’
The On science section introduces Academy Research Fellow Emilia Peltola, who develops tiny sensors for use in brain research. Her creations are intended for the real-time measurement of neurotransmitters, which would yield valuable information about brain functions, neurological diseases and possible treatments.
Acoustics researchers Professor Vesa Välimäki and Academy Research Fellow Koray Tahiroğlu explain how technology can make a musician out of anyone. Objects can be made to sing with the aid of computers, but what a thing sounds like depends on the sound, the space and the listener.
The new Partnership section meets with active alumnus and godfather of the Electric Workshop course Tauno Voipio. He has fond memories of his student years on the Otaniemi campus and is himself a good example of how pre-made plans may not determine the direction of your career. You need to be prepared to constantly learn and practice new things in life.
Aalto University Magazine is published in Finnish and in English. Pick up your copy on campus or access a facsimile on issuu.com. Some articles are also available on aalto.fi/magazine.