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Students raised half a million euros for a new professor of their own

The Information Networks programme at Aalto University will have a new Professor of Practice, Dr. Risto Sarvas.
Risto Sarvas, new Professor of Practice for the Information Networks programme at Aalto University.

The student guild Athene and their sponsor association Athene Angels together with Aalto University raised €500,000 in funds to establish a new professorship for the programme. The students were also involved in making the final choice of the new professor.

The new Professor of Practice will strengthen the cooperation of Aalto University’s teaching, companies and public organisations. The candidates were required to show not only acumen in teaching and research but also considerable experience outside academia in business. Previously, Risto Sarvas has worked as Head of Design at Futurice and as an Adjunct Professor at Aalto University. He has also received the Teacher of the Year Award at Aalto University School of Science in 2016.

In 1999, the Information Networks programme was launched to educate new types of professionals to bridge the gaps between business, digital technology, design, and users. The programme is led in close collaboration between Aalto University Department of Industrial Engineering and Management and the Department of Computer Science.

Sarvas’ field will comprise, both in terms of teaching and research, digital service design, digital platforms, and the use of knowledge in digital business networks.

The funds for the professorship came from the joint effort of Aalto University, the student guild Athene, and their sponsor association Athene Angels. They amassed a total of €500,000 in donations from major ICT, investment and management consulting companies who wished to invest in the education Information Networks provides. One of the donors was Futurice, the digital design and development company in which Sarvas has worked for seven years.

‘My career goal has always been to work at the interface of technology and society. I strongly feel that designers, engineers and business people should be conscious of the ethical and societal decisions they make in creating new technology and business,’ says Sarvas.

‘Information networks students clearly have a flavour of their own in building the future. They are open and outgoing, and they have a holistic perspective on business, technology, and design. I see them as society’s change agents who lead and facilitate us through complex challenges,’ he adds.

Students in the programme embrace Sarvas’ appointment. They both share the goal of strengthening the collaboration and personal networks between academia and business in using real cases and problems in joint projects.

’Risto wants our know-how and skills to have a clear brand in the eyes of employers, current students and prospective new students applying for our programme. We trust that Risto will provide the finishing touches our cross-disciplinary education needs to become an even more concise whole,’ recounts Joel Lappalainen, chair of the student guild Athene, the feedback on Sarvas’ appointment collected from students in the programme.

’Risto has the knack for educating ethically and socially conscious designers for digital services. He genuinely cares about his students and encourages us to push the envelope while constantly looking to improve his own teaching,’ students extol in their feedback.

Companies and organisations who donated for the professorship: Accenture, Accountor, CapMan, Boston Consulting Group, The City of Espoo, Futurice, Inventure, KPMG, Reaktor, Sofigate and Technology Industries of Finland Centennial Foundation.

More information:
Risto Sarvas, Professor of Practice
Aalto University
[email protected]

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