Aalto University, where Science and Art meet Technology and Business
Aalto University, where Science and Art meet Technology and Business
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  • 승인 2011.09.28 15:38
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One way to step forward may be to seek for novel and noteworthy features of others. This can also be done when looking for an area to strengthen the character of university education. The Postech Times took its step to several Scandinavian universities, of which there was one interesting institution to share with the readers. Aalto University, where its campuses are nestled within Helsinki Metropolitan Area and Southern Finland, is the chosen destination.

▶ Established in 2010
▶ 20,000 undergraduate and doctoral students
▶ 2,300 international students from 90 nationalities
▶ 340 full-time professors
▶ Three out of seven campuses located in Helsinki Region
▶ Six Schools in total: Chemical Technology, Electrical Engineering, Engineering, Science, Economics, Art and Design

A cosmopolitan renaissance man

The name of the university comes from a famous Finnish architect Alvar Alto. His work in fine arts, design, building and area plans encompassed open-minded and creative approaches when tackling problems. The name is a tribute to the concepts and values that he put in his creations, which emphasized sustainable and humane development and interaction among different people.


▲ Main building of the School of Science and Technology in Otaniemi created by Aalto


Education based-on nationalistic strength and interest

As technological breakthroughs are limited and technical skills cannot be the sole competition, corporations have been eyeing product design. According to the Bank of Korea, the design industry creates an added value of 43.9%, which is twice the value of Korea’s major manufacturing businesses such as semi-conductor (24.9%). There is also research manifesting that more immediate satisfaction can be obtained when investing money in design than in the usual R&D sectors. Even so, the global economic shift highlights the importance of investment on artistic creativity, yet the size of design marketing in Korea is below expectation.

Finns, in contrast, have had a stronger focus on design traditionally. A glimpse of nationalistic interest in design can be seen by Helsinki’s nomination of World Design Capital 2012. In this sense, education in Aalto University, founded through a national project, is in line with the passion in innovative artwork of Finland.

Problem-based learning through teamwork

One of the aims of the university is cultivating pupils who can influence the needs of society, thus many courses are structured to solve multifaceted problems of the present day. Product Development Project (pdp) is an eight-month course for those who have a background of engineering, industrial design or marketing. A team of ten participants cooperate to tackle real problems provided by the sponsoring companies with 10,000 EUR. Through this workshop, each cross-disciplinary student team must go through phases of planning, researching, concept devising, development, manufacture, assembly and testing, whereby at the end, a fully functional prototype is created.

▲ Problem-based learning requires students to brainstorm creative ideas, design, and make functional prototype. Pictures from pdp.fi website

University in front of creative sustainability
Like any other institution with Nordic origins, this university also strives to promote sustainable development and has a vision to be a leading institution for its innovative solutions to challenges such as climate change and waste problems. One environment-attentive operation is designing an ecologically sustainable campus, which is connected to the works of Aalto, and setting up the EcoMobility initiative to search for ecological transportation within the campus and later the whole metropolitan region. Relating to the theme of sustainable development, much university research is focused on sustainable utilization of energy and natural resources and human-oriented living environments. Following this objective, one of Aalto University’s first cross-disciplinary degrees established is the Master program in Creative Sustainability, in which a motley group of art and business majors rethink our future challenges.

Kim Eun-ji (Life, ’08)