Students and alumni of industrial engineering and management form a unique community

The close cooperation between students, alumni and the department of industrial engineering and management culminates in the annual Prodeko seminar. On Friday 12.5.2023, the seminar brought together close to 400 key players from industry, entrepreneurship, research and education, as well as students, to discuss leadership in the future technology environment.
Students Jenna Liinamaa, Pihla Päivänsalo and Teemu Koskiahde from the Prodeko Guild.
Prodeko guild students Jenna Liinamaa (left), Pihla Päivänsalo and Teemu Koskiahde were actively involved in organising the Prodeko Seminar 2023. Photo: Charlie Cruz Kauppila

“We organise several smaller events throughout the year where our alumni support students. At the spring seminar, we will celebrate the collaboration with a big crowd. The threshold for students to keep in touch with alumni is kept low when you see them at different events," says Jenna Liinamaa, Vice President of Prodeko, the student association of Aalto University's industrial engineering & management students. 

The close cooperation with companies is reflected in student life in many different ways. According to Ida Oittinen, Prodeko's corporate relations officer, students make around 50 excursions to companies every year. There are seminars, dinner events and the annual party, where companies have a strong presence. Many of the guild room's recreational equipment and gym are sponsored by companies. "We are currently working with about 50 companies. The most integral part of Prodeko's corporate cooperation is the Prodeko Network, a network of 11 leading Finnish companies in their fields, which has been in operation since 1994. The member companies are involved in the students' everyday life and celebrations and are present in the guild's activities in various ways," says Ida. As an example, Pihla Päivänsalo, President of the Guild, mentions the new course Becoming an IEM professional, which involves 26 alumni in coaching the students in their working life skills. 

Teemu Koskiahde was part of the team organising the seminar, which included students, alumni and faculty. Teemu's favourite part of the planning was the feeling of being able to influence, for example, the choice of speakers. "Prodeko is unique in working so closely with alumni and the department - it's been great to get to know them," says Teemu. Teemu has got a summer job at software company Visma, one of the members of the Prodeko Network. 

Relex, a company focused on supply chain design and optimisation, was the main sponsor of the seminar. The company is a member of the Prodeko Network and several of its employees are Prodeko alumni. The company has produced more than 50 Master’s theses. In a few years' time, Relex will be physically closer when it moves to its new headquarters on the Otaniemi campus. 

Audience at the Prodeko seminar 2023.
Audience at the Prodeko Seminar 2023. Photo: Tiina Duan

"The world of technology is changing so fast that people can't keep up"

Esa Saarinen's opening speech emphasised the importance of human encounter in a world of technology and high knowledge. This was complemented by WithSecure's Mikko Hyppönen's presentation on the future of Internet-based business, which painted a stark picture of the dark side of the Internet age, where criminal organisations with their own brands, HR departments and business analysts are something that companies have to take into account in their operations. Mikko Koskinen of Reaktor and Maija Hovila of Kone encouraged participants to experiment boldly with how AI and data can improve decision-making. Professors Jukka Luoma and Henri Schildt discussed how changing technology is affecting the way organisations operate and manage. Eerika Savolainen from Slush and Heidi Henttu from Telia answered questions on topics such as current trends in entrepreneurship and business opportunities opened up by technological development. 

What do the students want to highlight from the seminar? 

"I want to highlight the fact that the experts say directly that they don't know exactly what to expect in the future, for example in terms of artificial intelligence," says Ida Oittinen. Jenna Liinamaa was impressed by the fact that, although the theme was AI, the human element stood out. "The world of technology is changing so fast that humans can't keep up. You always have to be ready to learn new things. It's great, and stressful at the same time," explaines Pihla Päivänsalo. 

Eero Eloranta and Esa Saarinen holding the new history book of industrial engineering written by Eero Eloranta.
The Prodeko seminar saw the launch of Eero Eloranta's history book of industrial engineering, On the photo Eero Eloranta on the left with Esa Saarinen. Photo: Mary-Ann Alfthan

A history book of industrial engineering  

The Prodeko seminar saw the launch of Eero Eloranta's history book of industrial engineering, "Ongelmanratkaisijat ja muutoksentekijät” (in English problem solvers and change agents). The book describes the development of industrial engineering from the 19th century to the 21st century in the context of economic change and the development of universities of technology. The book is in Finnish. It can be purchased from the Prodeko Guild's treasurer. Please contact us by email at [email protected]

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