Sakari Hiidenheimo speeds up research on renewable fuels: "It's cool that my work has a big impact"
How did you end up studying chemical engineering?
"In high school, chemistry was always easy and comfortable for me. I liked to do various experiments and testing in the lab. What worried me beforehand was that one should be really adept at chemistry. I've always been more interested in figuring out the big picture, and I was afraid I'd have to work continuously with nanometer accuracy. Luckily there are a lot of study option which you can choose from."
How did you like your studies?
"The best thing about studying was the sense of community: we did a lot of group work and cooperation with other students. The student group provided support and security, and we often worked on individual tasks together.
In my own studies, I focused on environmental issues. I've always spent a lot of time in the wilderness and fishing, so environmental well-being is important to me. As minor subjects, I chose water and environmental engineering, and I also studied a lot about water treatment. I also complemented my studies with business courses. It was nice to be able to compile the studies with courses that really interest you."
What kind of work have you done in your career?
"I started my career at Neste, where I also did my master’s thesis. At Neste, I was interested in promoting environmental issues and a nice work community: there were many acquaintances working there. After my studies, I was still interested in water treatment, so after graduating, I continued at Neste for a couple of years in the development of the water treatment plant. Later, I also worked at Metso-Outotec in industrial water management. In practice, my work consisted of the development of water treatment equipment and processes, the technical sales of process equipment and installations, and support for implementation projects.
Now I work again at Neste, where I develop the company's business processes. For example, in the development of a new product, we have a certain process so that the products to be developed can be compared to each other and thus assess which one has the most potential. My job is to ensure that the process and its different areas work as well as possible, and that developers have the powerful tools to carry out their work. My work offers a versatile overview of Neste's research activities."
Sakari Hiidenheimo, Development Manager, Neste
In my current work, the wide scope of my studies is particularly useful, as I know something about almost everything we develop.
Why is your job important?
"Neste's research activities aim to develop environmentally friendly fuels, plastics and chemicals from renewable or recycled raw materials such as hydrogen, waste and various industrial surpluses.
In my work, I develop research activities further. It is cool that my work has impact greater than myself on the earth, and I can do things on a daily basis that affect the well-being of the environment both in the short and long term."
What kind of skills have you acquired by studying chemical engineering?
"The studies in chemical engineering provided with good preparedness for working life. They brought understanding not only of chemistry and research, but also of who to ask for advice and where to find information. In addition, I learned to critically assess the materiality and reliability of the information I encounter. In my current work, the wide scope of my studies is particularly useful, as I know something about almost everything we develop. The studies make it easier for me to assess what can and cannot be done, and to develop activities further."
What greetings would you like to send to young people thinking about study choice?
"Different study options and their practical contents concerned me in high school. Studies in chemical engineering allow you to work in wide variety of fields in different roles, just like business studies do. If you are somewhat interested in chemistry, it is a good starting point for studies in chemical engineering. You can then modify your own study path into the direction you want.
Chemical engineering is the field of the future indeed. All the major problems of our time, such as climate change and the adequacy of natural resources, are related to chemistry."
Learn more about our studies:
School of Chemical Engineering combines natural sciences and engineering to refine research results and put them into practice as sustainable innovations.