What is it like to study at Collaborative and Industrial Design?

International tutors in CoID

Hello, my name is Senciria Chou, and I am a second-year master student in Collaborative and Industrial Design. I would like to introduce my study experience as an international student at Aalto University. Especially the CoID program.

There is a lot of different profession program under ARTS school, like fashion, contemporary, film and photography, also architecture and interior design. You can find more information on the Aalto website to find out more detailed descriptions.


Unlike many master studies in other countries, the study structure in Aalto is very open. It allows students to choose courses they would like to take from other programs. The school also encourages us to have multipipeline collaboration, so there are also quite many courses cooperated with cross-department. Students have various chances to team up with others from different departments, like engineering and business school, …etc.

As a student in Aalto, we are also encouraged to take a minor from another program, have exchange opportunities to other countries, and have an excursion to do research in different cities or regions.

CoID is one of the most significant study programs in Arts School, and it is very international. More than half of the students are from all over the world. You will have the chance to meet quite many different cultures. The study vibe is vivacious and vigorous. The students are not only active in studying, but also in many other events. Therefore, it also has one of the most robust student communities.

It is quite an unique and enjoyable experience that became one of the members of this big family. You would always easily find help among your peers and have the chance to know much information and tried out opportunities happening inside or outside the school.

Students and teachers have no hierarchy in CoID. We have many casual feedback discussion sessions within the courses for helping enhance the program to fit the students best. The students can freely talk about what bothers them and what they think about what changes would be better.


Student’s discussion of modifying CoID curriculum – make courses more accessible for students.

During my studies, the program is emphasizing on cultivating the student to developing the skills to do design research, the mindset of user-centered design, co-design, design innovation and strategies, also design for services.

We have 60 ETCs of major compulsory studies which including your thesis project. In the first year, most students would be busy taking compulsory courses and some elective studies. Then in the second year, you can take time to have a minor or take courses from other programs.

Besides the compulsory courses, there is three mainstream as elective studies for the students to choose to study:

  1. Advanced Industrial Design
  2. Collaborative Design
  3. Design Strategy and Leadership

See more information and detail description from the below link:


The courses are different in each stream. Overall, it covers a wide range of issues on a different level, from practice design to better individual living broaden to improving social issues. Conducting design research in public sectors. Learning business mindset and doing design from an entrepreneurship point of view.

I will gradually introduce all the courses that I have taken in these two years in other blogposts, stay tuned 🙂

In Collaborative and Industrial Design, most of the courses required group works. It was quite different from my experienced; in my previous study and work, I usually worked alone. I was not really getting used to it at the beginning. On the one hand, since in the group work, you would need to consider more factors, and sometimes you will need to compromise with each other to find the midpoint to reach a consensus to proceed with the progress. If it would be in big group collaboration, sometimes even find group working time is a difficult task. Everyone has a different schedule; a suitable timetable for everyone to work together might be very little.

On the other hand, working as a group also is an excellent opportunity to know your peers. You will spend a massive amount of time work with them, and it will be a great chance to make friends and know different working cultures. It helps me to become a team player.

I have learned the most from my peers, like how they think differently while we deal with the same tasks. Some peers have tremendous leading experiences to push forward the projects; some are excellent in execute. Through all of these practices, I gained a lot of precious experience.

Moreover, the teachers in CoID are very supportive. They respect all the students thinking and ideas. I didn’t feel comfortable asking questions and presenting my thought at the beginning because I was afraid that my questions or ideas might sound stupid and basic. The cause of reasons could be my shyness personality or cultural background that I come from. In the courses that I have taken in CoID, almost all of the teachers have found these cultural differences. They have tried to push us and asking everyone what’s in their mind. They worked hard to show they don’t bite while we hesitate to step further. My adorable teammates also play a part in did the best to help me overcome my shyness to speak in front of audiences. Learning efficient ways to present your thought is one of the essential skills that you can learn from group work. And it feels terrific that as a group, you would have someone to rely on, and knowing that they also counted on you.

Workshop preparation

The benefits of working as a group help a lot while you were conducting an interview or holding a workshop. As a CoID student, it is important for us to empathize with the users and figure out the context of complicated stories. By doing so, we would need to collect the necessary information to proceed with the design and justify our solution. We have a lot of chances to practice interviews and held workshops to understand the issues. Figure out the real pain points and needs. These are valuable skills that I have learned from all of the courses in CoID.

All in all, it’s my personal experience as a student in CoID. I really enjoy my studies at Aalto University. Please forgive me if I have been talking too much about group work experiences in the latter part. Since the quarantine began, I haven’t meet any of my friends for a month. Plus, I am currently working on my thesis, and it is quite a lonely and lengthy process. Therefore, I have been missed all my classmates and groups working so much lately. Hopefully, I will also write about my thesis work in later blogposts as well! 🙂

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding studying in CoID. aaltosquad(at)aalto.fi.

More about Collaborative and Industrial Design program:


Senciria Chou
Master’s Program in Collaborative and Industrial Design

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