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Secondary school girls celebrate Women’s Day by exploring the world of technology

The Women's Day celebrations continued at the schools of technology on Monday 9 March, when Aalto University received a group of eighth and ninth grade girls who are all enthusiastic about science and technology. The programme prepared for them lasted all day and included inspiring speeches and engaging workshops.
Kasi- ja ysiluokkalaiset tytöt tutustuivat teknologian maailmaan Aalto-yliopistossa. Kuva: Matti Ahlgren/Aalto-yliopisto
Designing a dental implant in the virtual reality. Image: Matti Ahlgren, Aalto University

Piia Simpanen, Head of Growth Programmes at Technology Industries of Finland and former alumni of the Helsinki University of Technology, kicked things off by explaining why it is worth studying technology. In her speech, she emphasised how technology can change the world and how a wide range of opportunities are opened up by studying technology. She encouraged the girls to be bold when thinking about their own study and career paths, and urged them to think about what they are good at, what they love and how they could earn their living in the future.  

After this, Planmeca’s Product Manager Saila Parmes presented the business perspective and the innovations of electrical engineering. Her enthusiasm for science was sparked in a physics lesson when the teacher explained how ships stay afloat. She studied electrical engineering and by chance ended up having a career on medical technology.  

As a concrete example, she presented the virtual patient, a 3D model that can help dentists design and give better treatment to patients. The virtual patient was also utilised in the first face transplant performed in the Nordic countries, which was carried out in Finland in 2016. The audience was very interested in the virtual patient and in bioinformation technology and was keen to ask questions. 

The third speaker up was Pauliina Ilmonen, Assistant Professor at the Aalto University Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis. Ilmonen, who has her dream job, talked of how she is now able to do the things she loves: to study mathematical phenomena and to do good, for example by assisting cancer researchers. Ilmonen explained how mathematics can be utilised in different fields in such exciting ways. This diversity can be seen, Ilmonen added, in the variety of positions now held by the alumni who have graduated from her department: they can be found in fields such as transport planning, advertising, flight planning, elevator technology, economic research, and research of the black market for the tax office.  

Aalto University/Piia Simpanen/Teknologiateollisuus/Tyttöjen päivä/Matti Ahlgren
Piia Simpanen from Technology Industries of Finland encouraged girls to the world of technology. Image: Matti Ahlgren, Aalto University

‘Masters of Science in technology can do anything’

In addition to those giving presentations, the current students of technology also got a turn to speak. Laura Kokko (ENG), Linda Hemmann (SCI), Erlea Melgosa (CHEM), Emilia El Hattab (BIZ) and Ella Eilola (ELEC) all spoke about their own background and their studies at Aalto. They emphasised how technology studies open up so many different doors, and that for Masters of Science in technology there are many different career paths that can be chosen. They also said that by studying technology, you can have a concrete impact on environmental protection and combating climate change. The students also shared their thoughts about student life and exchange studies, as well as about the new friends that one is sure to find at university.  

In the afternoon, the focus was on workshops where the girls got to carry out different technology-related tasks. They were divided into groups that each focused on a particular task, such as the design of dental implants using virtual reality, the planning of traffic lights at intersections, a virtual journey into space, the construction of a spaghetti bridge, and the modelling of the adenovirus, and at the same time they learnt about themes of sustainable development and the economy. The concrete challenges and fun examples worked really well, and each workshop was full of focused and enthusiastic girls. 

Tyttöjen päivä / workshop / Aalto University / Matti Ahlgren
Modelling the adenovirus. Image: Matti Ahlgren, Aalto University
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