A student project commissioned by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and organised by the Aalto University School of Business examined how information on the risks and safe use of chemicals reaches the end users. The cross-disciplinary project was based on the School of Business’ Customized Business Projects concept.
In terms of setting up the project team, the goal was to combine students from different schools of Aalto University. The students selected for the project were Giovanni Chaurand, student in the Master's Programme in Water and Environmental Engineering at the School of Engineering and student of accounting Lassi Kervinen from the School of Business.
The project enabled the students to put their theoretical knowledge to practice in a real-world business environment. Giovanni and Lassi carried out interviews in 17 machinery industry companies that use chemicals in their production. The information provided by the interviews was used as the basis for identifying shortcomings and problems in terms of information flow, and the project sought solutions for them.
‘The work that began with this research project will help us develop both our own and the EU Member States’ activities aimed at improving the dissemination of information,’ says Matti Vainio, Head of Unit at the European Chemicals Agency. ‘For us, working with Aalto University students was ground-breaking - an extremely good start - and there's more collaboration to come.’
Students excited about the continuation of the project
The project results were compiled into a report and they were presented to the representatives of the companies involved in a seminar held in September. The identified problems included such issues as the unclear terminology and the fact that suppliers did not automatically submit the data, but instead they had to be separately asked for it. Furthermore, the information was not always up to date.
‘The project was very useful in many ways and gave us valuable new experiences. The best proof of the success of the project is that the ECHA has decided to order a continuation for it, and is planning to hire us to implement it,’ the students explain.
Associate Professor Jaana Sorvari from Aalto University's School of Engineering acted as the leader of the project. The students also received support from, among others, Andrew Murray (ECHA), Jouni Räisänen (Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency Tukes) and Hannele Tonteri (Technology Industries of Finland).
‘This was a win-win project in every respect! The students learned new project skills, and the best part of it was that it happened through a practical real-life project. They also acquired quite profound knowledge of the world of chemicals, which will certainly benefit them in the future, as will their contacts with ECHA, the Technology Industries of Finland and the companies involved,’ explains Professor Jaana Sorvari.
Through the Customized Business Projects concept managed by the School of Business, students carry out genuine research, development and consulting projects for companies and organisations.
Tommi Vihervaara, Project Specialist
Aalto University School of Business
+358 50 3837388