President's autumn letter 2016

Dear members of the Aalto community,

The autumn term had a fantastic start as we got to rejoice as many as two Nobel Prizes awarded to scientists in our immediate circle. Bengt Holmström, a member of the Aalto University Board and Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences with Professor Oliver Hart (Harvard).

For quite some time now, Holmström has been among the best economic scientists in the world. He is also brilliant at taking part in societal discussion, and has among other things taken a stance on Finnish science and education policy. Holmström has been a member of the Aalto University Board since its establishment. It has been wonderful to construct Aalto University with him.

Michael Kosterlitz, who worked at Aalto University at the beginning of this autumn, is one of the three scientists awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. Kosterlitz, who works at Brown University, has collaborated with many Aalto University researchers and doctoral students since the 1990s.

I would like to once again extend my warmest congratulations to the new Nobel Prize winners. It is a pleasure to work in such good company!

University rankings stir interest, even when their results are not unequivocal. Nevertheless, it is a joy to note that we have improved our position in different rankings year after year. Aalto EE's executive training programme continues to climb up the Financial Times top 100 ranking, the most highly esteemed of its kind in the world. The programme aimed at experienced business management ranked 61st, improving by 15 positions from last year. 

We also placed higher in the National Taiwan University (NTU) Ranking. In the field of Engineering, Aalto University was number one in Finland and placed 112th globally. Computer Science ranked best, leaping to position 79 in the world and the best in the Nordic countries. Chemical Engineering and Electrical Engineering also ranked among the best one hundred. In the general rankings of US News, Aalto has improved its position from 375th to 286th in two years, and in Computer Science from 96th to 60th (2016).

The Bachelor's programme in Fashion of the School of Arts, Design and Architecture was ranked at a world-class position, placing third in the ranking carried out by the Business of Fashion website. The ranking involved 54 universities around the world. The Master's Programme in Fashion at Aalto University was placed 15th on the same list. The position in the ranking is based on global influence, learning experiences and the long-term assessment for education. Finnish film is also reaping success. The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki, a film directed by Aalto graduate Juho Kuosmanen, has won a number of international awards and has also been selected as Finland's official entry to the Academy Awards. The final nominations to the Academy Awards will be published in January.

Our international flagship, the Design Factory, has once again attracted new partners, as Pace University in New York, Riga Technical University in Latvia, and Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Colombia launched new Design Factories. The research and learning environment for product development, which already operates in 13 universities around the world founded by Aalto University Professor Kalevi 'Eetu' Ekman, has also received positive attention. The World Cultural Council recognised Eetu for the international and productive humanistic approach he has brought to university education (“José Vasconcelos” World Award of Education, 2016). Eetu's visionary and inspiring ideas have enabled establishing the Design Factory, a concept that joins students, researchers and companies, as an international model for multidisciplinary and challenge-based education. 

This year has been a downright super year for conferment of degrees for Aalto University. The conferees of the School of Business were celebrated in the spring; and the third joint ceremony of doctorate degrees of Aalto University’s schools of technology were conferred this autumn with a total of 439 doctorates awarded.

Further good news was that our researchers were awarded €5.7 million total in key project funding by the Academy of Finland. The funding is particularly used to support the new generation of researchers whose research projects have already been found to be of high scientific standard in a previous peer review. Aalto University's plan for balancing finances and measures for securing additional funding have started well, for which every member of the Aalto community deserves a big thank you.

The international Scientific (SAB) and Artistic (SAAB) Advisory Boards are visiting Aalto University in October and November. Based on preliminary information, the feedback provided by these experts has been highly positive. They are impressed by the high-quality work conducted at the schools as well as how well the scientific and artistic level of the schools has developed.

Our efforts to raise Aalto University to the world-class level are thus fruitful, of which I would like to express my gratitude to each and every member of the Aalto community!

I wish everyone at Aalto University an energetic and inspiring autumn!


Photo: Aalto University/Janne Lehtinen

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