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Student Silva Robbins: A career as a doctor is not the only option for those interested in medicine

Silva studies bioinformation technology and participates actively in student life. She sees the Otaniemi campus as unique because it brings different fields and their student cultures together.
Bioinformaatioteknologian opiskelija Silva Robbins teekkarilakissa. Kuva: Markus Toivonen
Silva Robbins. Image: Markus Toivonen.

In upper secondary school Silva Robbins was interested in mathematics and physics, and she was almost certain that she would become a doctor. In her last year at school, she realised that engineers also have highly important roles in medicine and health technology. Her studies in bioinformation technology have also shown her new objects of interest, such as programming.

Why did you choose bioinformation technology?

In school I was interested in science and I thought that medical school would be the right place for me. In my last year I started to seriously think that although medicine seemed remarkably interesting, I did not feel that studies and a career in that field was really my thing. A couple of students from Aalto University came to visit our school, after which I started going through different technology options on the Aalto website.

Studying medicine and the social aspects of a doctor's life did not feel like the things that I wanted for my future profession. I finally ended up applying for major of bioinformation technology because I was more interested in practical activities. I was also pleased that my major allowed me to apply traditional engineering sciences to medical purposes.

What has been the most interesting course?

Although I ended up studying here for the medical aspects, I have also learned to like programming and data sciences. I hardly knew anything about them before, but now they have become a big target of my interest. I like them because they require logical thinking and deductive skills. In the data sciences we get to use programming and maths in practical applications, and it's cool to see how these tools can be used for optimising the smooth function of society. The courses on Machine Learning and Applied Mathematical Software were especially interesting and rewarding.

Versatility made the studies particularly interesting. Alongside traditional engineering, it has been possible to take a course on physiology, or molecular sciences involving cells, for example.

At Aalto, you can get so much more than just a degree.

Silva Robbins

What has student life been like in practice?

At Aalto, you can get so much more than just a degree. For example, there is a full range of volunteer activities available here. From my very first year I have been involved in the activities of both the Inkubio guild and the Student Union. I am currently the chair of the Aava community division of our Student Union; it has been cool to meet international students and students from the School of Arts, Design, and Architecture, and from the School of Business. The Otaniemi campus is truly unique, containing much history. It combines three independent fields of study as well as the student cultures of the different fields.

How has this prepared you for your career?

I spent a summer in a research group at the Department of Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering, and in doing so I got the topic for my Bachelor's thesis. It was great to get to see what the world of research was like in our field!

In my volunteer work I have acquired plenty of skills in leadership, group work, and project management. We have some truly big projects, especially in the Student Union, which one might not imagine that many people in their twenties would even get the chance to do. For example, the outdoor festival event Heatwave, which we organised in the summer. An estimated 500 people took part in the event. There was live music, karaoke, and an art wall.

In addition to acquainting us with future professionals, the guild holds different kinds of happenings and information events which help us learn about employment rates and opportunities in the field.

How does the future of the field look?

Bioinformation technology and health technology are growing fields, and we cannot be replaced by robots very soon. I think that it is especially important to know that it is possible to do quite meaningful work, such as developing and studying significant medical solutions. I also know that I have the capabilities to go into other fields, and not just health technology.

I would like to tell upper secondary school students that studies in medicine and a career as a doctor are not the only options for someone who wants to be involved in the development of medicine. It is worth considering what kind of a job description you want in the future and to be open to different options. I would like to encourage all of those considering our field to examine the course selection and to bravely get in touch with our guild, for example. We have very many people who are willing to help and to talk about the content of their studies. 

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Silva studies in Finnish-taught Bachelor's Programme. See our English-taught Bachelor's Programmes here. 

Aalto University / two students in the Computer Science building /photography Unto Rautio

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