Student Reetta Kälvälä wants to use technology to develop better cancer treatments

Reetta studies bioinformation technology, and she thinks university seems easier than upper secondary school because she can study according to her own schedule.
Opiskelija Reetta Kälvälä, kuva: Markus Toivonen
Reetta Kälvälä thinks that student life is the best thing at Aalto University. Kuva: Markus Toivonen

The desire to help people and develop medical technology led Reetta Kälvälä to choose bioinformation technology as her major. A busy student life provides a good counterbalance to studying, and for Reetta this has meant unforgettable trips and important working life skills.

Why did you choose bioinformation technology?

I was interested in a lot of different things in upper secondary school. Medical school was near the top of my list, but I finally understood that helping people and problem-solving were more important to me than care work. I took advanced mathematics and physics in upper secondary school, and I had a general interest in natural sciences and biology. At some point, one of my teachers said I was clearly going to become a technology student.

I eventually chose bioinformation technology as my major because it is really multidisciplinary. I also like physics a lot, so I’m taking a minor in technical physics. I have been happy with my choice, and I’ve enjoyed and done well in my studies.

What is student life like in practice?

Student life has a lot of variety, and I think it’s the best part of being at Aalto. Our guild Inkubio is really active and I’ve had a lot of great experiences through it! Skiing trips to Ruka have also been very memorable. Someone might wonder why we also want to voluntarily spend our free time together, but it provides a good counterbalance to studies. I think it's really great that, no matter what you enjoy doing, you can always find a like-minded group at Aalto.

What are your studies like in practice?

Studying at university is very different from upper secondary school, because students have to take responsibility for completing their studies. This provides a lot of freedom, which suits me well because I’ve been ready to work hard throughout my studies.

I got used to studying here very quickly. The topics are more difficult now, but upper secondary school actually seemed harder because someone else was always calling the shots. At university, people work together more even when they’re not doing actual group work. There is also more structure here and the study rhythm is clearer. I have problems concentrating, so the routines at university have helped me a lot.

What has been the most interesting course?

In general, the best part of the courses is the fact that feedback is received very well. I’ve liked many courses, such as technical physics, coding and signal processing, because the teachers have clearly been interested in the topics. However, my absolute favourite has been a course in molecular biology that was very well organised. 

There’s no need to be nervous about course descriptions or coding in advance. For example, I didn't have any previous knowledge of coding and when I applied to Aalto the course content seemed a little scary – but I’ve done just fine.

How have your studies prepared you for your career?

Perhaps one of the most surprising benefits has been the communication skills that I’ve developed, for example, while working in different guild committees. My interaction skills and group work skills have also developed a great deal.

What do you expect from the future?

The Biomedical Engineering major in the Master's Programme in Life Science Technologies is the reason why I applied to Aalto, and I will be starting my master’s studies in the autumn. I'm very interested in medical technology, physics and imaging. In the future, for example, I’d like to develop cancer treatments that utilise imaging so that the treatments would have fewer side effects. Sales also interest me, so we’ll have to wait and see what kind of jobs I end up doing.

Bioinformation technology is a great field! Many companies in the sector plan to list on the stock exchange, and there’s quite a lot of money in the business. The employment prospects and pay are very good. The expertise we have is not very common, so it will be hard to replace us once we’ve accumulated enough knowledge and skills.

There will be a continuing need for medical technology development as the population grows older. The future looks really good, and more breakthrough inventions are being developed all the time. This is a great opportunity to get involved in some really amazing things and make breakthroughs!

Read more

Bioinformation technology is a Bachelor's Programme offered in Finnish and Swedish. Read more: Bioinformaatioteknologia

Aalto University / students at Aalto University / photo by Aino Huovio

Life Science Technologies - Master of Science (Technology)

The Master's Programme in Life Science Technologies educates a new generation of engineers, researchers and entrepreneurs who are committed to improving human health and wellbeing through development of innovative scientific and engineering solutions. The programme has a strong focus on the technological aspects of Life Sciences and is closely connected to the world-class research at Aalto University in the fields of biological data analysis and modelling, bioinformatics, bioelectronics and biosensing, biomedical engineering, human neuroscience and neurotechnology, biomaterials engineering and synthetic biology.

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