Maria Kosonen chose to study Water and Environmental Engineering as she was interested in environmental issues

During her studies Maria Kosonen has got international experiences from Australia and Kenya, and soon also from Spain.
Maria Kosonen

I wanted to study at Aalto University, because it is a highly ranked university that is well-known for being innovative. Aalto also provides a chance to take courses between different disciplines, which means that you can tailor the right degree structure for yourself.       

In high school I was interested in nearly everything, which made it difficult for me to choose only one bachelor’s programme. I had a growing interest in environmental issues and I thought that these would only become more relevant in the future, so I decided to choose the Energy and Environmental Engineering programme. After my Bachelor’s degree I was a bit confused if this was still what I wanted to do so I took a few years off. During this time, I realized that these themes were still important to me, so I decided to continue to the Master’s programme in Water and Environmental Engineering and I couldn’t be happier with that decision.

I love how much freedom we have in our programme to create our own study path and expertise based on our interests. The teachers are very knowledgeable and supportive. We also have personal mentoring to support our academic and professional growth. What I found also interesting is that we don’t have exams. Instead, the programme is very reflective and supports each individual’s professional growth with mentor meetings and regular feedback. Compared to other courses, there is also a lot of interaction with peers, which has enabled us to develop our team working skills and to build friendships.

The most interesting course has been the Sustainable Global Technologies Studio course. As part of the course, we travelled to Kenya to help the rural water utilities with their financial sustainability. We drove around the beautiful countryside of Kenya and facilitated workshops for the local water utilities. This was my first time traveling to Africa and it was a huge learning experience both culturally and professionally.

During my Bachelor’s degree I was in exchange in Melbourne, Australia. I wanted to go to this location to study in another innovation university RMIT and to be able to practice my beloved sport, roller derby. It was an incredible experience during which I got to go outside of my comfort zone. I improved my language skills, met with amazing people and learned about a foreign culture. I actually fell in love with Australia so much that I ended up moving there for a few years after my exchange. I’m now about to do another exchange in Barcelona, Spain. I feel extremely lucky to be able to have this many international opportunities through my studies!

In Australia, the courses usually had one large essay or presentation and then the final exams. In comparison the study load here in Aalto is more evenly spread out into multiple smaller assignments, so that the workload during the course is quite balanced. There is no panic when reading on the last night before the exam, instead it’s a continuous learning curve. The student culture here is also very lively!

During my Bachelor’s degree, I participated actively in the student life by arranging cultural activities and events. There is a very lively student culture in Otaniemi that is unlike anything that I have ever seen before. I have organized many events such as playful Olympics and a wine & cheese night. There are also many associations, where you can find like-minded students for other past time activities. I have for example joined the skiing and adventure clubs as well as the pole dancing association.

On my usual days, I wake up in the morning and make my way to the university by 9 am where I will meet with my classmates. We have an interactive lecture or workshop usually hosted by the course staff and an interesting guest lecturer from the ministry or a relevant company. We have regular coffee/stretching breaks and we make fresh brews with the coffee machine in the classroom. There is an hour lunch break during which we eat in one of the student cafeterias. Usually we either have another class in the afternoon or independent studying, and I always aim to leave the university latest by 4pm. Usually, it is not necessary to study in the evenings or during the weekends if you plan your days well.

My interests vary from working with the global water problems to using data analysis and digital solutions in water and environmental engineering. I am passionate about providing equitable access to safe drinking water to everyone, because I believe water provides the base for life and many of the global problems related to climate change and human rights can be solved through good water governance. These are the kind of themes, that I would love to be working with in the future.

My advice to future students is to be curious and open-minded, so you might find surprising new areas of interest. Be prepared to work hard especially in the beginning, but also remember to be kind to yourself. It’s okay not to know everything and ask for help, we are all here to learn! Get to know your classmates and remember to have fun and enjoy the course.

Read more about the programme

Students and teaching staff at the Aalto University Environmental Hydraulics Lab

Master's Programme in Water and Environmental Engineering

Want to ensure a sustainable and functioning society? Then the Master's Programme in Water & Environmental Engineering would be perfect for you!
Water and environmental engineering is essentially about making the world work. With limited natural resources and an increasing demand for water, food and energy, we look at practical ways to develop our society in a sustainable manner.

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