Shaking up Tech brings hundreds of female students together to explore technology

Showcasing technologies ranging from spider silk stretching to VR trips through space and talks from inspiring speakers, the event made it clear that technology is for everyone.

On Thursday 10 October, 450 female upper secondary school students attended the Shaking up Tech event in Espoo, Lappeenranta and Tampere. Linda Liukas, the multi-talented patron of Shaking up Tech opened the event with an inspirational speech.

Shaking up Tech: Linda Liukas. Kuva: Mikko Raskinen.

‘Learning starts with doing things, and that’s what you're all here for today. I hope that today you get the message that all people who create something new have to start from zero. None of them is proficient in the things that they set out to do. All of them experience moments of frustration.’

Linda believes that anyone can build the technology of the future. Every voice is needed.

‘Technology is not just someone else’s thing. It is not just something for bearded men and boys in hoodies.’

Shaking up Tech: Anne Lähteenmäki. Kuva: Mikko Raskinen.

Professor of Radio Astronomy Anne Lähteenmäki spoke about her research on black holes. She also had a clear message to the young women.

‘There are billions of galaxies in the universe, and every galaxy has billions of stars. You can aim for those stars. Whether that means a natural star in space, or something that is an important matter for you. Go boldly towards that place where no one else has gone before. Study new and strange worlds. There is room in the universe for all our goals and dreams, including yours.’

Shaking up Tech: Sabrina Maniscalco. Kuva: Mikko Raskinen.

Professor of Quantum Physics Sabrina Maniscalco encouraged young people to find that place in themselves where their passion and strengths combine, that place of natural giftedness.

‘But you shouldn’t expect, however, that life will be one long honeymoon. You must be persistent, even if that means doing things which you don’t like and feeling like giving up.’

Shaking up Tech: Marjet Mäkinen. Kuva: Mikko Raskinen.

Marjet Mäkinen, the CEO of Suomen Kovabetoni Oy described to the upper secondary school students what it is like to study in the field of technology. She began her studies in industrial engineering and management in Otaniemi in 2007.

‘Otaniemi is a great place with a strong community feel. Here you can learn everything. You don’t need to worry for a moment whether you’ll be able to manage or not.’

Shaking up Tech: Riitta Silvennoinen. Kuva: Mikko Raskinen.

Director of Future Energy Business at ST1 Riitta Silvennoinen spoke about stopping climate change, developing the circular economy and promoting renewable energy solutions.

‘I understand technology and natural sciences and am gifted in mathematics. Right now, we need people who understand the big picture and want to make the world a better place.’

From workshops to summer jobs

In the afternoon, the students were divided into smaller groups and given hands-on experience of different technological fields through a variety of workshops.

In the Astroinformatics and Magnetism workshop, one of the experiences on offer was a flight through the solar system using the Aalto Virtual Planetarium application. The workshop also gave an explanation of how the northern lights are generated. Participants were interested to learn about whether there is life on Mars, what would happen if the earth’s magnetic field disappeared, and how the magnetic field in general operates.

Shaking up Tech: Iisa Vallirinne. Kuva: Matti Ahlgren.

‘My father has a science masters degree and has taken me to different places to introduce me to the natural sciences. I am very interested in physics and other sciences, and in the future I would like to study at Aalto’, says Iisa Vallirinne.

Iisa knew how to ask researchers informed questions about the earth's magnetic field, and this didn’t go unnoticed. At the end of the workshop, one of the workshop leaders, Professor Eija Tanskanen, made preliminary arrangements with Iisa for her to take a summer job: Iisa will be going next summer, under the supervision of Eija Tanskanen, to the Sodankylä Geophysics Observatory.

‘It is absolutely clear that upper secondary school students should have a chance to visit and learn about universities and research institutes. Iisa Vallirinne was particularly enthusiastic and actively asked questions, so we’ve made some preliminary arrangements for next summer.’

From stretching spider silk to assembling satellites

Shakin up Tech, biomimeettinen silkki. Kuva: Mikko Raskinen.

In the chemistry laboratory, Maaria Tiiri, Tiia Aaltonen and Annukka Hautamäki got to have a go at stretching spider silk – once the silk protein became concentrated enough. At the workshop’s other activity stations, students also got to collect the silk and to examine it under an electron microscope.

‘I’m really happy with how much more information I got today about different technology sectors,’ says Tiia Aaltonen.

‘This workshop helped me decide my top choice in my university application for me’, adds Maaria Tiiri.

Joanna Autio and Josefiina Saukko participated in the ‘Brain and Mind’ workshop, in which they learnt how to take EEG measurements.

‘The brain is what interests me most of all. This is definitely something which I will remember’, Joanna Autio says.

‘Before, I didn’t really have an idea of what the technology sector is. Now I understand what it is, and also how diverse it is’, explains Josefiina Saukko.

Joanna Autio would like to solve the world's waste problem. She believes that new methods must be found for making use of waste in more diverse ways. If Josefiina Saukko could choose a superpower, it would be about saving the world and stopping climate change.

Shaking up Tech: avaruustekniikka tutuksi. Kuva: Mikko Raskinen.

In the space technology workshop, Anni Toijala, Janika Olshin and Ilona Hiltunen got to take apart a satellite and put it back together. The group was pleased that they got to dismantle and assemble the satellite with their own hands, and in the process to learn about all the parts of the satellite. Linda Liukas’s speech had also instilled in them courage and belief in themselves.

‘Today really strengthened my interest in astrophysics’, says Ilona Hiltunen.

Shaking up Tech: liikenteen ohjaus. Kuva: Mikko Raskinen.

Linda Tiihonen and Viivi Ihalainen modelled and programmed traffic lights in the Aalto Junior workshop. They both felt that the day made it clear that there are many different opportunities in the technology sector and many different ways to work with technology.

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