A large number of members of the Aalto community gathered up at Mellin Hall in Otakaari 1 at the end of the RAI 2018 evaluation week to hear the first assessment given by 43 international experts about the activities of the university approaching its tenth anniversary.
The chairs of the nine panels had the same main message: Aalto University has taken a giant leap forward in less than ten years. Praise was given to, for instance, the university’s strong, internationally known brand, the tenure track system leading to further internationalisation, the hierarchy supporting a good working atmosphere, high-quality infrastructure, cooperation with companies and the student-led entrepreneurial ecosystem. “Very positive sense of desire to develop Aalto to its best potential, at all levels.” “Excellent potential for achieving broad and ambitious goals for both research excellence and societal impact”, summarized the panel chairs.
Multiple panels suggested the reinforcement of diversity and, in particular, increasing the proportion of women scientists as an important area for development. The role of platforms as accelerators of multidisciplinary research should be clarified and supported even more. The panels also encouraged Aalto to critically examine the borders between different schools and departments and to consider what kind of organisational model would best support the implementation of the university’s special mission.
President Ilkka Niemelä warmly thanks the Aalto community for preparing and actively participating in the evaluation process:
‘Through collaboration, we managed to assemble a comprehensive view of our research and artistic activities. The departments had completed a through and careful self-evaluation and produced a representative number of case studies on social impact. This material formed a good foundation for the assessment, while also creating an excellent starting point for the university's strategy work, which will start next year. It was good to see the impression Aalto community’s accomplishments made on the international experts. I would like to thank the whole Aalto community for your brilliant work!’
The accomplishments of the 26 departments were evaluated in different panels from the perspectives of the four core competence areas of Aalto: art, design and architecture; business and economics; chemical engineering and physics; engineering; and ICT and mathematics. The specialists also assessed the development made in multidisciplinary research fields aimed at solving major challenges: energy, health and welfare, and living environments. In addition, the operation of the innovation ecosystem encompassing the entire university was evaluated.
The assessment period reached from the beginning of the year 2013 to the end of 2017. As a foundation for their work, the panelists received self-evaluation reports, case studies on social impact, an international publication analysis and other background materials. In addition, the panels interviewed representatives of the departments and other evaluation units during the site visit week between 27–31 of August.
This is the first time that Aalto’s results were evaluated as one university. A similar assessment was last carried out in 2009, when Aalto was still in the founding stage.
The assessment reports will be completed during autumn 2018 and will be found at https://www.aalto.fi/research-art/research-assessments